|Patillas, Puerto Rico|
|Lake Carite, Patillas, Puerto Rico|
|Church in the Plaza of Patillas, Puerto Rico|
Most people who visit Puerto Rico, don't explore beyond the San Juan area, but there is plenty to see.
Recently, a friend invited me to visit the town of Patillas, also known as "The Emerald of the South". I wanted to get out to the countryside, so I accepted.
We traveled from San Juan to San Lorenzo, where we took the mountain road to Patillas. The road was barely two lanes with many, many curves, so it was an exciting drive. We passed lush verdant green mountains and a beautiful lake. We found a good spot in the shade and stopped to have a bit of food and enjoy the view, before we continued on to the town.
"The Emerald of the South", Patillas, Puerto Rico is located on the southeastern coast of the island and stretches north to the southernmost tip of the Carite Forest. The Carite Forest has many hiking trails, and one such trail, located in Patillas, leads directly to Charco Azul (Blue Pool). The pool is fed by a small creek that runs from high in the mountains of the "Cordillera Central". The pool gets its name of "Charco Azul" from the bluish tint of the water, but maybe is just the reflection of the blue sky. Patillas, Puerto Rico has lakes, rivers, and sandy beaches, in addition to lovely green mountains. It takes only a short drive to go from the mountains to the ocean and back again.
The town of Patillas was founded in 1811. Patillas is the indigenous name of a native type of watermelon which grew abundantly in the area. In 1821 a royal decree allowed the development of a port to stimulate trade. The Immaculate Heart of Mary Church was built in 1845. It was rebuilt in 1930, after Hurricane San Felipe in 1928, completely destroyed it. This beautiful church faces the the lovely town plaza which has a water fountain and shade trees.
Patillas, Puerto Rico celebrates two festivals, the Patron Saint festival, held in March and the Emerald of the South Carnival, held in May. Both are popular with the residents, there are many food stands, lots of music and everyone enjoys the festivities. Next time you are in the island of Puerto Rico, don't forget to put the town of Patillas on the places to visit.