Sunday, July 22, 2007

Cave Exploration in Belize

On Wednesday morning my friend Mario Perez and I started on our Cave exploring adventure. Mario is a cave and jungle guide in Belize. Mario had told me the day before that he had just found a cave about two miles from my house. Throughout this part of Belize there are numerous lime stone bluffs that contain caves. New caves are being found all the time. It seems the Mayans have been in most of them. From Five Blues Lake road, we only had to cross a wide but shallow creek and walk about half a mile to the entrance of the cave at the bottom of the bluff. We could see by the sand at the entrance that when the creek rose, water would enter the cave. Mario had helmets with lights on them that we each put on prior to entering the Cave. The opening was rather large as we only had to stoop a little to walk in. Once through the opening we switched on our lights as the cave was dark. We also could walk upright as the ceiling in this part of the cave was about six or seven feet. We did notice debris on the ceiling indicating that this part of the cave would fill completely when the creek flooded! We walked for about 30 yards and had to crawl through a small orifice between two large rocks to get to the next chamber of the cave. I felt a little apprehensive crawling through this orifice as I had no idea what was on the other side as it was very dark. Once inside, we found the cave to be magnificent! All kinds of stalactites (from the top) and stalagmites (from the ground) glistened with crystals of calcium salts. We had to climb large rocks, with stalagmites jutting upwards from them. It was a very strenuous activity as sometimes we had to pull our selves up to a secure position with just one hand and poor footing. We stopped quite a bit to catch our breath and also to just look in awe at the interior of the cave. I usually took pictures at these stops. (I have a link to pictures I took on the web.) When we were about 45 minutes into the cave, we stopped for a break. We turned our lights off and the cave was totally dark. It was good to just sit in the silence in the dark. The only thing we could hear was the drips of water coming from the stalactites. While exploring, I had to repel down over some large rocks. Mario, setup the rope and fed the rope so that I could lower myself over the face of the large rock down to the floor of the cave. We saw pools of water in the cave that we didn’t think came from the creek. We also found some cracked Mayan pottery. We were in the cave almost three hours and we only saw a small portion of this cave. I learned from this experience that a person with mountain climbing skills would do well in a cave and may thoroughly enjoy the experience. I have a better understanding now why the Mayans could have liked the caves. It is the spiritual or magical environment created by the reflection of light, the shadows, the shapes and almost cathedral like quality of the cave. Taking pictures in a cave with no light requires great skill. I have trouble with taking pictures in daylight so pardon the picture quality. The pictures really say it all. Click on the following link to view pictures.

Link to pictures

John Madeira

Belize, Central America

Monday, July 9, 2007

Belize Letter 11

We went to Hamanasi Resort on the Caribbean for a swim and lunch. After lunch we did some more swimming and sun bathing. They have a very nice pool that overlooks the beach. The weather was perfect! The sun was shining and there was a very nice breeze. Lunch at Hamanasi is always a treat. The food is always good. Diane and I had Belizean Bouillabaisse. This consisted of big chunks of red fish fillet and shrimp in a spicy tomato broth. Shrimp are farm raised in Belize. They are always fresh and never frozen. This is an excellent way to spend a day.

I made a post on July 1 about Five Blues Lake. This is a lake that is 4 miles from our property. Last year at this time, the lake made headlines by losing all its water. I have some links in that post to a few pictures.

We had cleaned 4 guava trees on our property. Two weeks ago they started to bear fruit. Ripe guava’s are yellow in color somewhat pear shaped. Inside they have pinkish red flesh that contains very small hard seeds. The fruit tastes similar to a strawberry. The fruit is also very fragrant. Due to the seeds, it is not too good for eating as is. However, when the hired cutters were working in that area, they sampled quite a bit of fruit. If the fruit could be processed through a Foley food mill or similar device, it would make an excellent sauce. I tried guava ice cream and it tastes very much like strawberry.

The other week I had to take my truck for routine service work. The auto dealer where we purchased the truck is about five or so miles outside of Belize. It usually is about a 3 or 4 hour wait no matter what you have done. The dealer offers rides to Belize city for the people having their cars serviced. I decided to take the trip into Belize. The way it works is that you tell the driver where you want to go and he will drop you off and give you a time he will pick you up. One couple was dropped of at a supermarket and he said he would pick them up in an hour and a half. I told him I was just along for the ride but I did need to go to a pharmacy store. Well he too had lots of errands including bank, post office, etc. I got to ride all over Belize City. What a tour! One thing nice about the service is that when your car is returned it is exceptionally clean because it has been hand washed.

The rains have returned! Rain in Central America can be very hard at times. I never saw so much water coming down! During these hard rains, the satellite Internet either slows to a crawl or stops completely. Everything is growing rapidly and changing to a very lush, dark green. My grass cutting is a never ending almost daily task. Mid to late June our pump returned to action. I believe it may have been a clog as when it began working, quite a bit of mud and grit was caught in the filter.

I have some pictures uploaded for public view at the following link:

I will be changing a few things soon. Most importantly, I will be adding a lot of short single subject topics instead of the multi-topic letter form I have been using. I will keep you updated.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Five Blues Lake

Yesterday, my friend Mario, a jungle guide who lives near me in St. Margaret’s Village, informed me that the lake had returned to its previous state. I could not believe it. Today, during a rain storm, I made the trip to the lake. Since the lake is only 4 miles from my house, it was an easy trip. I was able to get the truck to the Five Blues Lake pavilion and then walk the ½ mile to the shore of the lake. As I turned the corner and had a view of the lake, I could not believe my eyes! Five Blues Lake was back to normal! Just a month ago I had seen it as a mud puddle. In case you are wondering, On July 6, 2006, Five Blues Lake was reported to be empty due to a collapse of the Lake floor. See The news of the disappearing lake drew quite a few visitors. Will the news of the reappearing lake draw an equal number of visitors?

I will be putting a few pictures on Picasa very soon for public view.