Published: May 20th 2008May 11th 2008
We endure more sweaty bus rides and miles of loose rocks called "roads" until we arrive in the far flung communities of Lanquin and Semuc Champey. Dave and I broke off from the ladies for this adventure (they went to a big Guatamalen market to shop). The big attraction here are the caves. We arrive late in the afternoon and head directly for the cavernous Lanquin Caves. We are told that many thousands of bats blast from the entrance of this cave everynight at around 6:30pm. That gave us 2 hours to explore. We don our headlamps and begin the adventure. It turns out that the front section of the cave has some electrical lighting. At first this is actually kind of disappointing, but it turns out that these lights help us appreciate these spectacular huge chambers. Large stalagtites/mites form into beautiful columns and intimadating spikes. We venture deeper and deeper until the lights go away. This require some messy awkward navigation. Don't fall into the endless dark abyss to your left and right! The sound has also nearly disappeared. Nothing but the occasional wet plop and a few bat cackles. I hope the audio recordings are good!
We had to monitor our time carefully or we might get caught inside the cave during the nightly bat rush. Maybe we should let this happen on purpose! We return to the cave entrance just as the sun is setting. We are the last ones out and they promptly shut off the electrical lighting. This cloak of darkness was what the bats were waiting for. We find ourselves a comfy seat slightly inside the cave and wait for the dark horde of death to engulf our view. We are told to keep our flashlights off for the rest of the night. We obey for a good 20 minutes and wonder when the bats are going to begin. We begin to suspect something when the flappy whoosh past our ears increases into a more constant rustle. We guess that maybe 5 or 10 are passing us at a time. When we sneak a few flash photos, it is revealed that 100's are passing us every second! Kazam! This was a most excellent way to start our time here.
We wake up the next morning with the vague notion of seeking out more caves. We walk only a few steps
from our jungley lodge and bump into a previouisly unmentioned set of caves called the St. Marias. Should we spend 50 Quetzals (7 dollars) or try something else? We go for it. They hand us some candles and tell us to not bring anything else. Flashlights and cameras will be ruined (unless they are waterproof). We are led into a dark smallish cave in the side of a mountain. What makes this cave special is that it is half underwater! The guide lights our candles and we coyly glide into the chilly cave water at the entrance. First the water is to our knees...then our waist...then our chest....neck....now we are swimming through a cave bobbing our heads (and candles) above the water. Now this is adventure! The experience is hightened by the dramatic candle lights flickering spooky shadows in all directions. We climb a few rickety wet ladders to ascend up and down otherwise impassable areas. At one point, our guide climbs up one particularly precarious place and jumps into a dark abyss of water. BOOOOOOOMMMMMM! A giant wet bass explosion echoes through the cave. Drat! the Zoom recorder is not water proof. So of course dave and I follow.
I carefully angle my body on the ridge as our zenly silent guide crouches just next to me. I point to my head and point to the large rocky overhang dangling in my future trajectory. He smiles and says "Cuidado". (be careful). Breath....whoooooshhhh.....Success! Quite a rush. A friendly German fellow caught some pictures of this that he will hopefully send us soon.
We exit the caves and they take us to some ultra massive swings over the river. They must swing a good 20 or 30 ft over the river and drop you another 20 ft into the water. The guides even do us the favor of using a special whip launch technique to get us more distance. RUSH! As if we hadn't got our monies worth yet, they chuck us some intertubes and we lazily bask our way down the river. We noticed a bridge along the way that a bunch of kids were jumping off of. Hmmmmmm. Nah...not now. Our last stop in cave land to us to the much applauded Semuc Champey Pools. These are a series of relaxing pools connected to each other by tiny tiny waterfalls. We gurgle around in these for awhile. We
even took a bonus adventure to the bottom, much larger waterfall. What a day!
We wake up at the crack of dawn to begin a long voyage to......CANCUN! but first Dave must ammend an oversight. We drearily amble down to the river bridge at 6AM. I set up all the Tri-fecta of recording devices to capture daves graceful plunge. Glorious.
More updates coming soon!
There are more photos below