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

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