Bayside, New York
December 11, 2001
Call the Conservation Trust at 787-722-5882 to get info on tours.
School groups are the most frequent visitors here; in fact when we arrived, there were 2 tour buses parked, presumably for the school children that were inside learning about this plantation.
In 1984, the Conservation Trust of Puerto Rico purchased the Hacienda with an eye toward the restoration of its buildings and equipment. Termites had a field day here during the time the hacienda was abandoned by the de Vives family. The machinery was badly rusted. With the help of family records which were extensive, the Trust was able to restore and rebuild Buena Vista to its quasi original state so as to give visitors a look at life here during the 19th century.
We have a private guide as we are the only English speaking people there waiting for a tour. He's very formal and apologizes profusely for his poor English, which is not poor at all. When he stumbles on some words, I encourage him to tell me in Spanish so I can teach him the correct English counterpart. He takes us through what used to be the house, we see the history of the Vives family who start here in 1833 and leave the place in disarray. See the trail that shows the intricate water tunnels and aqueducts which are at the heart of this operation. The forest here is very rich in plant life. Not too many animals except for small snakes, and birds. Amphibians hang out near the Canas river and falls. The tour is very extensive: we continue on to see the machinery involved in grinding corn into flour; turbine (which is imported from upstate New York- boy what a small world!)hydraulics, etc..We go down a treacherously slippery hill in order to see the original entrance to the hacienda where the family had a Victorian Bath built to impress the visitors who came here. If you don't know what a Victoria Bath is, if you remove the water from it, it is a sloped, wide trough which has parallel lines of nodes sticking up from the smooth construction at its floor so when the water is coming through, the nodes will create a cascading effect downward.
At bath's side, we examine a cocoa tree which has not borne fruit as yet. There are very specific times for reaping coffee beans and cocoa beans. Interesting for the children will be 2 trees in the forest which are in the shape of a rabbit and an elephant respectively. The resident ducks and teals wade and preen by the water; the most vociferous are the roosters who feel a need to trumpet their existence every few minutes. At tour's end, we witness 3 of them getting into a row and creating flying feathers.
The waiting area has some interesting books on conservation and ecology, plant life, postcards, and sweets like coconut bars in varying degrees of sugariness.
From journal Ponce - La Perla del Sur