Cara Del Indio In Isabela, Puerto Rico (2023) – All You Need To Know

La Cara del Indio is a giant sculpture of a Taino Chief carved in stone and embedded into a mountain.

Chief Mabodamaca welcomes visitors to Isabela in the western region of Puerto Rico. 

I am a history enthusiast, and I know the story and legend of Cacique Mabodamaca. 

In this article, I will cover everything that you need to know about Cara Del Indio In Isabela, Puerto Rico:

What is Cara Del Indio?
What does “Cara Del Indio” mean in English?
Who carved La Cara Del Indio?
Where is it located?
Is it worth visiting?
Is there an entrance fee?
Frequently Asked Questions

 

What is Cara Del Indio?

You must know some Puerto Rican historical facts to understand and appreciate La Cara del Indio sculpture.

image of Indian Face sculpture
The Indian Face sculpture from above. On the right, you can see a cave.

In 1493 Spaniards arrived in Boriken (They named the Island San Juan and later changed the name to Puerto Rico) and claimed the island for The Spanish Crown.

The Taino who inhabited the island feared the Spaniards and thought they were immortal gods.

The Spaniards enslaved The Taino and forced them to work searching for gold.

In 1511 Taino Indians from the town of Añasco, led by Chief Urayoan, set out to prove if the Spaniards were immortal.

The Taino drowned a Spanish Conquistador named Diego Salcedo in the Añasco River and waited several days to see if he would return to life.

image of Estatua de Diego Salcedo
Sculpture of Taino Indians drowning Diego Salcedo. This sculpture is in Añasco’s Town Square.

The Taino learned that The Spaniards were mortal and planned a revolt.

Mabodamaca was the Cacique (Chief) of Guajataca, a region that is now the towns of Isabela and Quebradillas. He assembled 600 of his warriors and prepared to attack The Spaniards.

The Governor of Puerto Rico sent Captain Diego Guilarte De Salazar to attack Mabodamaca and his men in what is known as The Battle of Guajataca of 1511. The Spaniards arrived at Guajataca and attacked Mabodamaca’s campsite after midnight.

Even though they had fewer men, the Spanish had better weapons and defeated the Taino.

At this point, history becomes legend, and legend becomes myth. Some say Mabodamaca died in combat; others say he escaped. 

Legend says that refusing to be enslaved again, Mabodamaca ended his life on his terms.

image of El Pastillo Beach
This rock formation at El Pastillo Beach in Isabela resembles the face of Chief Mabodamaca.

The Chief jumped off a cliff.

According to the myth, Yokahu, The Great Spirit, honored Mabodamaca’s bravery by carving his face on a cliff in El Pastillo Beach. From there, he now protects the people of Guajataca.

Inspired by this legend, the city officials of Isabela decided to make a sculpture of Mabodamaca’s face in a more visible place.

 

What does “Cara Del Indio” mean in English?

image of Taino Chief
Artist representation of a Taino Chief.

Cara del Indio means “Indian’s Face”. 

The sculpture’s official name is Cacique (Chief) Mabodamaca.

People started referring to the carving as la Cara del Indio, and the name stayed. 

 

Who carved La Cara Del Indio?

In 2000, Charlie Delgado Altieri, mayor of Isabela, commissioned Artisan Isaac Laboy to make a sculpture honoring Chief Mabodamaca.

image of Mr. Isaac Laboy
Mr. Isaac Laboy, the local artisan who carved La Cara del Indio.

The artisan carved La Cara del Indio in his shop, and then they transported it and embedded it into the mountain. 

Mr. Laboy said in an interview that his goal was to make a sculpture that looked like a Taino carved into the limestone mountain.

The artisan also mentioned that he used a young man from Isabela named Bernard, who is of Taino descent, as a model for the sculpture.

 

Where is it located?

You will find La Cara del Indio at the Intersection of Road Number Two with Road 113 Noel Estrada Avenue, Isabela, Puerto Rico.

Locals referred to the place as La Cuesta del Caño or Creek’s Hill.

image of Cacique Mabodamaca
Cacique Mabodamaca historic plaque.

La Cara del Indio is 73 miles from San Juan.

You can be there in about an hour and a half.

Below is a Google Map location of La Cara del Indio:

 

Is it worth visiting?

La Cara del Indio is worth visiting.

You can take pictures and find artisans selling crafts on weekends.

image of an aerial view of beach in Isabela
Isabela has beautiful beaches and a lot to explore.

There is a snack shop that is inside a cave near the sculpture. La Cara del Indio is a quick stop.

If traveling from San Juan to see The Indian’s Face, we suggest that you plan to visit other places in town.

Check out our article about the Best Things To Do In Isabela.

 

Is there an entrance fee?

You don’t have to pay to see La Cara del Indio.

The City of Isabela owns the sculpture; it is a public space.

image of La Cara del Indio carved face
La Cara del Indio is a quick stop in Isabela.

There is no parking space near La Cara del Indio. You have to park close to the road.

The sculpture is at the intersection of two busy roads, be careful with traffic while walking to and from the attraction. 

 

 

FAQ section

Is Cara Del Indio a fun activity for families with young kids?

La Cara del Indio is a fun and informative activity for families with children. And now that you know the legend of Mabodamaca, you can impress your kids or your significant other by telling them.

When is the best time to visit?

The best time to visit La Cara del Indio is in the morning; Mr. Laboy designed the sculpture looking at the sunrise. In the morning, the sun bathes the face of Mabodamaca, and the natural light is great for pictures.

 

Final thoughts

La Cara del Indio is more than a carving in a mountain.

The sculpture is a tribute to a Chief that fought for his people and a reminder of Isabela‘s rich history.

If you plan to visit Isabela to see La Cara del Indio, pack a swimsuit and check out our article about Isabela’s Best Beaches.

You may also enjoy our article 18 Best Things To Do In Isabela

Article by

Carlos Cubero

Writer at PuertoRico.com. I was born in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. I’m passionate about Puerto Rican history and culture. I live on the west coast of Puerto Rico, and host an Airbnb for tourists. I also coordinate tours and concierge services for tourists. I authored “Eat Like A Local, Puerto Rico”, and have contributed to blogs and magazines with articles about discovering and enjoying what Puerto Rico has to offer.

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