La Cara del Indio – Isabela, Puerto Rico - Atlas Obscura

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La Cara del Indio

La Cara del Indio honors the Taíno chief who fought bravely against the Spanish invasion of Puerto Rico. 

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La Cara del Indio is a roadside sculpture that welcomes visitors to the city of Isabela and the Portal del Sol in the west region. Known as the “Indian’s face” in Spanish, the sculpture is a monument dedicated to Cacique Mabodamaca, a Taíno chief that fought against the Spaniards in 1511 and died during the battle.

Cacique Mabodamaca was the chief of Guajataca, a large area that covers the (now) cities of Isabela and Quebradillas. He participated in the second Taíno rebellion against the Spaniard’s invasion in 1511, referred to today as the Guajataca Battle. It’s believed a Spanish general, Don Diego de Salazar, made a surprise attack against Mobadaca and the 600 Taínos gathered to fight and assassinated Mabodamaca during the battle.

Mabodamaca was so significant, that many believe he actually escaped and preferred leaping from the cliffs of Isabela than surrendering to the Spaniards, and as a result, his profile was carved by nature on one of the cliffs of El Pastillo Beach, so he continues to watch over his land.

Artist Isaac Laboy Moctezuma carved out La Cara del Indio on the main Rt 2 in 2000, taking inspiration from the legend, and with special instructions to make the sculpture look as if it was carved by the Taíno themselves. La Cara del Indio exists in the memory of Mabodamaca’s bravery. The sculpture holds a strong gaze and powerful expression as if the chief is protecting his people.

Know Before You Go

La Cara del Indio is located at the intersection of Rt 2 with 113. Although it’s visible from the car, it’s easy to miss. Visitors can park on the side road to take a picture and enjoy a local treat at the food kiosk next to the sculpture.

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April 9, 2022

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