San Lorenzo | Waterfalls, Mountains, and Adventure (2023)

Our Lady of Mercy Parrish (click on the picture to view a larger version)

That's May 1, 2023. Forecasters are predicting dry conditions with temperatures as high as 109° F. In this case, many head to the beach. But experience tells me it's the formula for a bad sunburn. You feel worse after that. So my wife and I headed to the mountains instead. To the mountains of San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico!

San Lorenzo is a beautiful town about 24 miles south of San Juan. Sure, it's close to 28 miles of driving range and about an hour in traffic. Zory and I decided to spend three years visiting every city in Puerto Rico and posting our findings on the Puerto Rico Urban GPS blog and our YouTube channel.

First, we started writing to each mayor's office, asking city officials to point us in the right direction. After a while, we found out that most city officials didn't care, so we decided to do what real tourists would do: "go visit for yourself and give our honest opinion". Not that we wouldn't give our honest opinions anyway, but at least people in each city had a chance to influence our thinking. That's a lot more than they managed to do when angry guests attacked them on YELP!

In the end, it's a more authentic experience for our readers and viewers, who certainly don't have the opportunity to contact any city officials.

We arrived in San Lorenzo at 8:53am. how could I know? Because that's the time I captured in the first photo I took with my iPhone.

Policarpio Santana Public Square (click image to enlarge)

Puerto Rico is home to a large number of old churches - mostly Catholic - and they all seem to have something in common. They open in the morning and close around 10:00am. That means if you want to see the inside, you have to get there early. So we parked in front of the public square in Policapio Santana and headed across the square to Parroquia Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes.

To our surprise it was closed! We went to the door, just to make sure, it was indeed closed. We also learned that sometimes the temples just look "closed" and when you walk up to the gate you find that the padlock is actually open.

It's a shame to find the church closed as it looks very nice from the outside. So we can only imagine that the inside is not bad either. Also, the original monastery was built in 1737, so we're talking a very old temple, and the architecture must be interesting.

We walked around the temple and found the administrative offices at the back. We put on our friendliest faces and politely asked the lady when the temple opened. Her first reaction was "the temple is closed" as we already know. Her tone was stern and commanding. We asked again what time it was open and Se replied that it was only open in the early morning. Basically she gave us "the snub".

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In my accompanying video, I ask a very basic question: "Shouldn't the church welcome"? I mean, this isn't the Middle Ages, where you have to obey the church's every wish or you'll burn in hell! ! ! It's 2023 and most churches are losing members!

(Video) San Lorenzo Canyon Adventure!

Of course, we were not there in a religious capacity. Our interests are more of a cultural or touristic nature. But no matter the situation, her job was to let us in the door, not turn us away.

Priscilla Flores Theater (click image to enlarge)

We thanked the woman for "all her help" and moved on. Our next stop was the Priscilla Flores Theater, located a few steps north of the Parish. Considered one of the best ever Puerto Rican folk singers, Priscila Flores is clearly a native of San Lorenzo. But luckily the theater is also closed.

I have to admit, I'm not surprised by the theater thing. After all, how many theaters do you know that open their doors at nine in the morning?

We did poorly. Average, so I said to my wife, "Let's take a turn around town (just to see what we see) and we'll get 'out of the Dodge'.

City Hall (click on the picture to enlarge)

We started walking south on Muñoz Rivera street as it looked like one of the main arteries of the city. A few blocks later, we found City Hall. It's a beautiful building, painted bright red (more on that later), that was rebuilt in 1938. The original building must have been constructed sometime after 1811, when San Lorenzo became a municipality when it was separated from the neighboring town of Caguas.

I say "must have been built" because I tried to find the exact date online and couldn't. What about bright red? Well, Puerto Rican politics are so frenetic and paranoid that when one of the two main parties wins an election, they start painting everything blue or red. Blue stands for the Pro-National Party (PNP) and red stands for the People's Democratic Party (PPD).

To me, this is pure stupidity and just results in a waste of time and money. God knows the latter is never enough.

Plaza Mayor (click the image to enlarge)

Just behind the San Lorenzo City Hall is another square called "La Plaza de los Alcaldes", which, as the name suggests, commemorates the 34 mayors in the history of San Lorenzo. As we walked around the square, a few things caught my attention. First of all, it's clean and has a great view. Second, the fountains do work, and I can't speak for that of the Policarpio Santana public square or the fountains of Our Lady of Mercy Parrish. They're either defective or just turned off. Finally, every mayor is male. No female mayor in sight.

(Video) Cerro San Lorenzo, Patagonia

I later confirmed this online. In its 212-year history, San Lorenzo has had 34 mayors, none of whom were women! just say '...

After leaving "Plaza de los Alcaldes", we return to Muñoz Rivera Street and continue south. We wanted to go to the "virtual library" we'd heard about at City Hall. I also publish a weekly newsletter called "talk about technology’ This is episode 404, so any “virtual” or “technical” will satisfy my intellectual appetite.

We finally made it a few blocks to the south. It's a bright yellow building named after Dr. Rafael Marcano Blanco. The temperatures in the streets are at their peak and we're craving "air conditioning". We had no idea this place would be "cool" in more than one way.

(Click on the picture to enlarge it)
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As we entered the building we were met by two wonderful ladies who spent over an hour answering our questions and pointing us in the right direction.

I won't mention their names because they didn't give us permission to do so, but they know who they are and we will be forever grateful.

As for the library itself, it has everything you would expect in a study facility, from computers and audiovisual equipment to specialist rooms and bespoke exhibits. One area in particular caught my eye, dedicated to José Luis Gonzalez, author of El País de 4 Pisos (The Land of the Four Floors). I read his book in college and it opened my eyes.

A lady at the library pointed us to other places to visit in San Lorenzo. I've actually heard of two of them, but when we got to the library we were so disappointed that we were ready to give up. Well, she piqued our interest again and we left the library for "Los 7 Chorros".

Los 7 Chorros (click image to enlarge)

Los 7 chorros is a beautiful waterfall on the outskirts of San Lorenzo that is every landscape photographer's dream. You have 7 waterfalls (hence the 7 "chorros") which converge into a beautiful pond. The falls are located high on the hills of the Emajagua River, a tributary of the Río Grande De Loíza.

When I say suburban, I mean the 12-13 miles of curvy Puerto Rican country roads. So if you choose to visit "Los 7 Chorros", expect the drive to be around 30 to 40 minutes.

When you get there, you'll find a small restaurant up front, owned by "don Chu", the same name as "Los 7 Chorros". The falls are private property, but the owners are kind enough to allow everyone in. Just find Nancy, she is Tang Chu's daughter.

There's a concrete staircase leading to a waterfall and a puppy named "Bruno" who doesn't seem friendly at first. Don't worry though, he always bites before 8:00am, so you'll be fine if you're late.

There is a sign at the entrance with 5 simple rules that shouldn't even be there, but "hey" some people need to remember. Of course not you!

Anyway, here they are:

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  1. free parking
  2. there is free admission
  3. Enter at your own risk (including dealing with Bruno, just for fun)
  4. The owner has no liability to you or your car.
  5. If you bring children, they are also your responsibility.

Oh, and one last thing, the gates are only open Wed-Sun. Closed on Monday and Tuesday.

simple right?

I wasn't here for the swim, so I shot video and more photos for my landscape collection, ready to hit the road soon.

When I was about to leave, I met Tang Chu's other daughter Lucy. She asked if we were visiting Montaña Santa ("Holy Mountain" in Queen's English). At 3,500 feet above sea level, it drops about 10 or 15 degrees here.

At first we gave up on going up the mountain because we weren't sure how to get there, but Lucy said she would get there anyway and offered to show us the way.

View from the Holy Mountain (click image to enlarge)

The views of Montaña Santa are worth the drive, but be aware that the road is a white knuckle ridge, if any. In fact, there is a sector with a slope close to 45°. So make sure your vehicle is ready. If it has an automatic transmission like my pathfinder, please don't try it on the way back or you'll burn your brakes for sure.

Instead, take the flatter option that Lucy showed us, taking the old "Panoramic Route" (Route 7740) connecting Route 181 due north, then Route 183, and finally Route 203, and finally you'll be back in Route 30. From there return to Turnpike 52 north, then Route 18, then back to the San Juan Metroplex.

San Lorenzo is one of those small towns in Puerto Rico that are cozy but do little to attract tourists from outside. Sadly, local tourists don't contribute a dime to the economy of the entire island. God knows we need those dollars. Instead, they only attract local tourists who are just passing money around.

I don't know if it's a reluctance to say "el difícil" (Puerto Ricans joke that English is "difficult") or a lack of imagination, but the truth is that the small towns on the island do. There's very little that attracts tourists from the mainland.

Well guess what? Everything has customers. Someone travels the world and visits old churches. Others visit museums, waterfalls, or stunning vistas. Guess what? Puerto Rico has a lot! ! ! Why do people flock to St. Augustine, Florida when we can't remember that Puerto Rico was founded 44 years ago?

There is value in getting older, but our small town doesn't understand it. The mayors of these cities have micro gold mines in their hands and they do nothing. Maybe I shouldn't generalize because some of them do. But most people don't. When you find these isolated efforts, there is usually an inspired entrepreneur behind them. As an enlightened friend of mine said repeatedly: "Government is spending".

So why didn't I mention those entrepreneurs? Well, sometimes I do. But Puerto Rico City GPS is a business unto itself, and it is fair for us to charge for coverage on private projects. Sure, some people will think it's "payola" or "pay-to-play," but according to the FTC, as long as you disclose it, it's business.

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But the sad truth is that most people today want everything for free. Maybe it's an "internet" thing. Anyway, that's why we rarely mention personal matters.

(Video) Amazing 54 MW San Lorenzo Wind Farm | Guimaras Island | Cinematic

Finally, I have a mainland friend whom I met many years ago. When we met, I picked him up from where he lived and showed him around Puerto Rico for free. He visited Puerto Rico several times after that, and again I took the time to show him around.

One year he asked me "why would I do this"? I wasn't sure what he was asking, so he clarified, "Why do you take me around again and again, you never ask me for a dime"?

My answer may surprise him. I said, "I'll take you to Puerto Rico because that's my home. Guess what? I'll probably never go to your state. But someday you'll have the chance to do for someone else what I did for you .The only thing I ask is that you do the same. Show him/her your home.

Well guess what? A few years later, given the opportunity to visit his state, we went twice. He offered us his home and showed us many places. I saw a lot of places in his state that the locals didn't.

So at the end of the day, that's why I do what I do: "Because Puerto Rico is my home" and I love showing it! ! ! If I come across as a critic at times, it's because I want it to improve.

I hope you enjoyed our trip. See you next time!

© 2023, Orlando Megar, MA

Bilingual content creator, blogger, podcaster,
Writer, Photographer and New Media Specialist
Phone 787-750-0000, Cell 787-306-1590

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Learn more about Puerto Rico

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Disclosure of material connection: Some links in this post are "affiliate links". This means that if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services that I personally use and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with Federal Trade Commission regulations16 CFR,255: "Guidelines Regarding the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising".


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