Sunday, February 7, 2016

2-6-2016 Crystal Cave Adventure

Our friends, Will and Leslie, arranged a trip to Crystal Cave, and we're always up for adventure, so on a cool Saturday
morning we headed to Blue Hole National Park for what we knew would be a pretty rugged cave tour.  This is our whole group
including us, Terry, Will and Leslie, Gerry (sp?) and Diana (from Germany), plus our guides Pedro and Walter.

Starting the one hour hike through the jungle, at about 9 am.

The first half of the trail was pretty flat, but the second half had some ups and downs, and very muddy, slick places.

At the entrance to Crystal Cave

You must have a guide to enter Crystal Cave, and there was even a guy from the Belize Audobon Society, Jeremy, who came
to make sure nobody did anything stupid to the cave formations or the artifacts in the cave.

You start into the cave by lowering yourself down while holding onto a rope.  Pedro went first to help the rest of us.

Pedro told us where to put our feet on each step going down.

Terry going in

Diana and Leslie waiting for everyone to else to do the rappel

Eric coming down

From here you walk in.

It was pretty muddy and slick inside, so you definitely had to watch your footing.

Down we go further holding onto another rope...

Will and Diana at the bottom waiting for everyone to come down the second rope.

Looking up at the hole we just came through

There were broken bits of ancient Mayan pottery throughout the cave.  Often pottery was found
under certain cave formations to catch the "pure holy water" that dripped off of them.

There were some tight spaces to crawl through.

But, crawling through that tight space that led you to this amazing skull (that was once intact until someone dropped their
camera on it several years ago).

Funny Gerry (sp? - it's short for Gernot)

Soda straws - a very delicate cave formation, hollow in the center like a straw.

Crystal Cave is gorgeous, but it is definitely strenuous.  You will use every muscle in your body on this tour.

More amazing pottery...

Obsidian blades for ceremonial bloodletting, a tooth, a shell, and more...

One pot was still fully intact.

It might have been at this point that our guides asked how we felt, and if we wanted to continue
on to a place in the cave that they call "Wonderland".  Thankfully, there wasn't a question in
anybody's mind - of course we wanted to go to Wonderland!!!

So, on we went...

Wonderland is a large room filled with many incredible formations.


Wonderland is where our guides prepared lunch for us - make your own burritos with homemade tortillas!

So this was our incredible view as we ate lunch!  Then our guides asked if we wanted to see
another special area, though we would have to remove our shoes to go there.  All but Eric went
on this adventure.  He stayed back and took what must have been an awesome nap - in total
darkness and silence!

Up we all socks or bare feet.


Cara with Jeremy (from the Audobon Society) in the background.

Will and Leslie





In this spot we all sat down and turned off our flashlights.  We sat there for several minutes, and the utter darkness was very
peaceful for us.  We didn't much want to turn our headlamps back on.  (Eric had not said he was staying back to take a nap,
but at that point Cara knew that's what he was doing.)

Heading back...

Terry's favorite cave formation

The white spot in the middle kind of looks like the outline of a woman.

See the leg bone in this picture?

A good picture of Jeremy, from the Belize Audobon Society

A good view of one of the tight spaces to maneuver in Crystal Cave.

It was raining when we got out of the cave, and it rained the whole hike back.  We didn't care, though, since we were all drenched with sweat anyway.  We got back to the parking lot at closing time for the park (4:30 pm), so it was a very full day!

On the way home we decided to stop at Over the Top Cool Spot (a bar on a hilltop) for a drink.

At the bar we lucked into a party for a local guy who had just graduated from University and got a job teaching in the village
where he grew up.  Everybody was super nice, welcoming us into their celebration and even giving us some of the delicious
food they had cooked!

The view from Over the Top Cool Spot

We were all thoroughly worn out, sweaty and muddy by the end of the day, but we all had a fantastic time.  We went home, rinsed our muddy clothes and shoes outside, then threw them in the wash, went to bed, and slept almost twelve hours!

P.S. Thanks to Terry for letting us use some of his photos.

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