When you’re driving on Rt. 997 between Esperanza and Isabel II keep an eye out for a pink house that has become an unexpected Vieques icon. Known locally as The Cow House, or Las Vaquitas in Spanish, the home gets its name from the two cow-shaped lawn ornaments that decorate the front yard.
On an island with unnamed streets and no traffic lights Las Vaquitas is an important landmark. You’ll often hear locals say, “Turn at the Cow House,” or, “Go past Las Vaquitas,” when giving driving directions. The cows are even identified (as cows) on the Vieques Island Map, but where did these storied cows come from?
Owner Lucy Asencio Diaz bought her first cow from a woman in Monte Santo four years ago. The cement sculpture was so heavy that it took four men to help her get it into and out of the car! Lucy found the second cow a few years later when she was traveling in Las Piedras on the main island of Puerto Rico. She stumbled across a cow that matched hers perfectly, and when she told the seller her story, he sold it to her on the spot.
Each cow is roughly two feet tall, and Lucy keeps them looking sharp by bleaching and scrubbing them every once in a while; then she recreates them with oil paints. She even puts water out or tethers the statues with a rope. Why? Because it makes her laugh and she gets a kick out of it! And, how else to give visitors proper directions? She loves that her vacas have made it onto the official map, and she hopes to add a bull and some calves to the mix soon.
Want to see Las Vaquitas for yourself? The house is about halfway between the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge and Isabel II. When you see two cow statues in the yard, you’ll know you’re in the right place.