Alvarez Family Returns to Boriken

The Alvarez family returns to Boriken to reconnect with their roots.
Ponce, Boriken/Puerto Rico (UCTP Taino News) - The Alvarez Family returned to their old stomping grounds in Utuado, Boriken after half a century away. During their recent family reunion trip, they visited indigenous ceremonial sites on the island to further connect to, and reaffirm their roots. The trip was organized by Susan Alvarez, who contacted the United Confederation of Taino People for assistance. Alvarez is enrolled with the Confederation.

The family delegation included Susan Alvarez, along with her two children, Kathleen and Charles, and her sisters Judith and Carmen Pagano, and Carmen’s two daughters Hyacinth and Heather. They started their journey on a Friday morning, visiting ceremonial centers between Ponce and Utuado crossing thru “Las Indierras” and the Cordillera Central mountain range.  “The mountains always call me, I never felt more at home as when I was passing our beautiful, majestic mountains” said Carmen (Mita), the family matriarch.

With trip itinerary prepared by “Mountain Tours”, proprietor Roger Guayakan Hernandez was the official guide for the family. Hernandez is also a Liaison Officer for the United Confederation of Taíno People on the island. Their first stop was to Ponce's Tibes Ceremonial Center.  At the Center’s museum, the many artifacts and informative dioramas complimented the orientation presented by Taíno community member Luis Santiago of Wakia Arawaka.  This Center features a film explaining what researcher call the Igneri (Saladoid) culture to the so-called Pre-Taino who settled the site along the “Valley of Tibes” from around 300AD to 1000. The grounds feature seven "batei” and two large ceremonial "plazas".

Kathleen, Susan, and Charles Alvarez at Caguana
“This educational tour was so interesting and it explained a great deal” stated Judith.

After a tasty roast “pernil”, pollo and “costillas “luncheon at Adjuntas family restaurant - "El Boriqua", the tour proceeded to Utuado's Caguana Indigenous Ceremonial Center thru the winding mountain road along the Adjuntas/Dos Bocas River Valley.  The Caguana Ceremonial Center features 22 large stone petroglyphs lining the numerous, and large “batu (ballgame)” courts along the Tanama Valley hillside facing the spectacular “Semi” mountain peak.  This Taino site has been occupied since 900AD indicative thru “Ostiones” artifacts found along with Capa style highly decorated ceramics (1280AD- 1500AD).

The renowned petroglyph known as "mujer de Caguana" shows her elaborate “crown” with large ear rings representing an advanced age woman of a respected social position. Her eyes are closed and her bony thorax with her lower extremities similar to a frog's legs are said to denote vitality. The circular figure on her abdomen with a dot in the middle represents her navel and her evident reproductive organ implies her as a fertility figure giving birth to many children.  Her squatting position is a sign of power and commands respect.

Commenting on the petroglyph Carmen stated “How wonderful we as women were treated with the highest of respect and honor. My grandparents were so loving and respectful to each other so we as Taino-Boricua women had a great base as how we should be treated.”

After passing thru the half century improvements (since the family’s time in the Diaspora) made to the Utuado area, the tour returned thru the old Camino Reale (King's Road Route 123), which is awaiting the last stage of the $20 million dollar connection between Adjuntas and Utuado to complete a new expressway Route 10 between Ponce and Arecibo.  The 3,000 ft elevated rural central mountain range has kept this region relatively isolated. This continues as it has for the past 500 years holding the ancestral secrets of the many villagers who have settled along the many rivers and tributaries for the past few thousand years.

“WOW!” exclaimed Carmen. “The trip thru the mountains was hair-raising in many ways, from the winding roads to the majestic views. We all knew we were home”. She continued stating “It feels so good to be home.  We will be back.  We will continue to study and learn about our people’s ways.  We will teach our children.  I was so happy my daughters, sisters, nephew and niece were here to experience this wonderful beautiful experience.”

With great pride she added “We came home to the land of enchantment, we Taino came home to the beauty of Boriken.”

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