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Places of interest

Jose Marti's House or "El Abra" Farm "Punta del Este" Caves
"Largo del Sur" Cay "El Indio" Cave
American Cementery "Carapachibey" Ligh-house
Internacional Diving Centers "Nuestra Sra de los Dolores" Church
"Del Lanier" Swamp "Jones'" Jungle
Crocodile breeding Local Museum
Turtle Breeding "Bibijagua" beach
"Finlay's" Cave Model prision


Just 17 km. from Nueva Gerona and located at kilometer 2.5 of “El enlace” road, just before Santa Fe, this grove of over 15 ha. is located, crossed by the stream “Los almacigos”. There is evidence that this area was the first “Pinero” settlement, in the late eighteenth century, where the first church in the Isle of Pines was built. From there, people departed and founded the town of Santa Fe, in 1809.

Its most attractive aspect is the wide variety of plants located in so little space and above all, its exotic and extraordinary beauty, source of entertainment for people of all ages.

Its origin goes back to 1902, when a couple of Americans settled in the area, with the aim to introduce and study exotic trees brought from all over the world, creating one of the most extraordinary places on the island, which houses almost twenty kids of birds, such as the thrush, the parrot and hummingbird.

They began growing plants of different species, many of them brought to the territory by sea and air. She, Helen Rodman was a naturalist and he, Harry Sanford Jones, biologist, both from Chicago, Illinois.

The Jones worked together to turn this site into a beautiful botanical garden, they received assistance from the Department of Agriculture of the U.S. through Dr. David Fairchild who provided a large variety of seeds in order to study the adaptability of these species to the tropical climate.

The results were astounding. In a few years it became the second botanical garden in the country, with the one of Cienfuegos. In 1947, Núñez Jiménez named it the "Pinero paradise".

The tranquility of the place, together with its charm, made it a place for rest often used by those who came to receive the benefits of the springs of medicinal mineral waters that flowed into the nearby town of Santa Fe. It became a destination for health tourism that enjoyed relaxing under the Yamagua, cocoa or ocuje tree. It is believed that in 1946 was the most visited place on the island.

The Jungle came to have a wide variety of plants. Among the most outstanding were: 20 varieties of mangoes, 10 cane, mangosteen, coconut trees, several varieties of ocujes and avocados, guavas, star apple, medlar, rose apple, pear "Maraca" or "Tropical", cashew, jagüey, yagruma , tea from China, coffee from Brazil, India cocoa, mate de Los Andes, carob and other.

However, the most remarkable of all it was a yagruma, which bore two trunks in a knot in a heart shape. Named “the tree of love”, became one of its most attractive specimens.

Among the wide variety of stately trees, is found the beautiful and refreshing “Bamboo Cathedral".

Helen became a widow in 1938 and played by mysticism had the unconditional company since that time of a snake of Santamaría, which added fame to the place. In 1960, the old woman was killed violently and the forest began a deteriorating stage, which lasted 38 years. On the very day of her death, the forest began to die.

Many pineros believed they had seen her, dressed in white with a huge snake coiled around his neck in the ruins of his old bungalow board walls and thatched roof or in the corners and shadows of that forest.

Legend of many pineros tell that the soul of the angry old woman was wandering the forest among the neglected weeds shadowy solitude, trying to scare off predators coming to the site to remove the layer that made a paradise. It is said that Helen was defending, what she loved and cared for with her husband. The grass grew and also the legend.

From May 1998, a gradual process of rescue and recovery of the Jungle began, for social and educational purposes. Leading the new rehabilitation project was the graduated in Physics, Tomás Betancourt Lopez.

His appointment was good, a physics professor turned into a forest worker. The classroom was transformed into a field; and the pen was exchanged for the machete.

He received a small budget to clean and replant the forest. Thomas and his wife cleaned, plowed and planted. Learned to milk cows and shepherd the sheep.

They built a home and the forest started to get rid of superstitions as the forest recovered its beauty. I'd call it now, The Jungle Jones-Betancourt. Merit to whom deserves it.

Today, many of the tree species that have not been classified. Especially in these oddities lies the uniqueness of the place, declared part of the National Network of Botanical Gardens.

The current forest estate is trying to restore and immortalize the legends of the old “tree of love”, which perpetuates the passion of Helen and Hary. The increase in timber and fruit trees has been remarkable, recovering many of its plants.

Visit this paradise, it will be an unforgettable experience, not only because the direct contact with nature, it is the ideal place to spend a relaxing day exploring this magnificent tropical botanical garden.


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