National Geographic : 2001 Oct
There's a mythical air to Adjuntas, a coffee town in the Valley of the Sleeping Giant high in the mountains of Puerto Rico. Still, it was a surprise when Yubert Rodriguez, a fifth-generation Adjun tefio, pointed to a nearby mountain and said, "My land is at the top of Olympus. Want to see where the gods live?" The 50-year-old schoolteacher drove up a steep road into the tropical forest, then hiked past gigantic ferns and philodendrons to a small grotto full of orchids and bromeliads where a spring burbled beneath smooth flat stones. He bought the land as a young man to preserve it, and without felling a single tree he has created a garden that would make Eden blush. "The Indians called spots like this yuquiyu, a place where you feel the presence of God," he said. "These mountains are full of them. To protect and nurture one is a sacred joy." Love of the land and its customs runs deep in Adjuntas, where folks say their families have lived "since forever" and formal good manners rule daily life. You smell it in the surrounding barrios, where whole pigs are spit-roasted at roadside stands, and taste it where visitors are offered shots of pitorro,an illegal moonshine made from sugarcane and buried in the earth for a year. You see it in the elegant Paso Fino horses paraded through town on holidays, and you feel it sitting in the large, gracefully landscaped plaza, with its amphitheater, fountains, courtyards, and stone benches. TOTAL POPULATION OF ZIP CODE: 19,140 POPULATION OF TOWN: 4,980 NUMBER OF MOVIE THEATERS: None NUMBER OF STONE BENCHES IN THE MAIN PLAZA: 65 RANK AMONG PUERTO RICO'S 20 COFFEE PRODUCING MUNICIPALITIES: 2nd CLAIM TO POSTAL FAME: 00601 is the lowest zip-code number permanently assigned to any geographic region in the United States. By day Adjuntas's modest downtown is aflutter with business, including the sale of parakeets. By night, for fun, young Adjunteios drive a new road-across the moun tains (above) to Ponce, a coastal city.