National Geographic : 1962 Dec
Puerto Rico may soon become the world's largest tuna-canning center. West of Ponce, we embarked at the little resort port of Parguera-where mangroves thrive beside dry, bald hills-on an evening tour of Phosphorescent Bay. You can agitate the black water and see micro-organisms work their luminous magic. The tour boat's propeller churns a chilly bonfire in your wake; darting fish resemble tracer bullets. I)ip your hand into a bucket of the glinting water and you wear a glowing glove.* By daylight we drove to Mayagiiez, a sun ny, flowering west coast port and the com monwealth's third largest city. Then we cir cled inland to old San Germin, a hilly little antique that swarms with students from the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico, a privately endowed liberal arts school. Here, in 1606, missionaries built the church of Porta Coeli, "gate of heaven." It stands clean and proud over a little plaza. The San German area has bustle as well as 786 charm. One reason is water, as proved by Ernesto Torres, a friendly round-faced farmer (page 784). Though his 30 acres lie only about 90 miles southwest of the dripping rain forest of El Yunque, his land was parching dry un til four years ago. Ernesto could barely scratch a $4,000 yearly gross from his dusty soil. This year's total: about $56,000. The difference came with the Lajas Valley public irrigation project. The local director, A. Gonzalez Chapel, explained: "We don't ex propriate land. We bring water to private farms. And we bring much more than water." They do indeed. Lajas experts bring long range planning to agriculture and help devel op scientific farming. Multiply the Ernesto Torres story hun dreds of times, and you see the future of southwestern Puerto Rico, where another 25,000 thirsty acres await water and skills. A mile or so from San German, the villag *See "Puerto Rico's Bay of Fire," by Paul A. Zahl, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, July, 1960.