Monday, February 22, 2010

Cueva Sorbetos - Que Linda!

On Sunday Jeff and I drove up to Arecibo to meet with Bro (the organizer), Jose F., Espera, Iraida, and Ivan for another journey underground. This time the trip was to Cueva Sorbetos (straws) near the Tanama River. I decided to risk taking the better camera (non waterproof one) since this cave is primarily dry except for the swim across the river to get to it! I am very pleased I did this since the cave was really decorated with very detailed and subtle designs the small sensor on the other camera wouldn't pick up. The cave entrance had been cemented up a long time ago when the formations were in danger of being taken or damaged. Something (hurricane?) or someone however made a small opening and it is that opening that we entered. The cave was very large and open and muddy. Immediately there were straws covering the ceiling.
The straws were 1 - 4 feet long and very dense. A single touch could send them breaking off. We helped each other watch for head clearance while going through the lower areas. Many of the formations were "anti-gravity" looking - parts headed off into all directions.

There were a lot of columns and calcite pedestals. At one point there was a huge wall of formations I call "nature's HDTV" that we sat in front of and had lunch "watching."

There were also a lot of bushy bushes of formations that had the anti-gravity parts poking out in all directions. The entire cave looked like it was full of chandeliers. These straws are still forming and have drips of water and minerals coming out from them.

Looking up into the ceiling there were formations I think are called drapery formations. They were mixed in with the anti-gravity-bush ball things.

These formations are sooooo delicate. In my mind I imagined a mini cirque-de-solei going on with butterflies or nymphs sliding up and down the straws. Humans can't think up this stuff - nature is just beautiful and perplexing and delightful to observe.

Here's some more of the drapery stuff (I really need to learn the names of formations - all the books here for stuff like this are in Spanish). On Ivan's Facebook page he called the dark formation bacon drapery - It kind of does look like bacon (yum).

One thing that is hard to show in photos is the scale of things. The ceiling in this cave was over 50 feet in many parts and just covered with these straws. You really feel dwarfed when you see the structure of the place.

Butterflies and lightning bolts...

Jeff is dwarfed by a huge column. I can't get Jeff to stop watching the TV!

There were also flowstone formations and some straws were muddy. I have a photo that shows a mud line - won't post it here - that is interesting because it shows that the water rises a few feet at least. Since the formations aren't broken off though it must be a slow rise of still water.

Bro and I saw a pool of water in a lower area and we climbed in to explore. The water was perfectly clear and we really didn't want to disturb it, but this spot wasn't on the map. I went through a little triangle space and could see down but needed probably 10 feet of rope (which we didn't have) to explore. Bro couldn't get in since it was smaller than his shoulders. Could it lead somewhere? Definitely.

Some more flowstone or "ice cream sundae formations" as I call them.

The highlight of course was all the straws - photos and words cannot describe the magical qualities of this cave! We exited after several hours inside, swam a rope across the river and followed it across. A short hike later we were at the cars and headed home. We left at 7am and got home around 6:30 - an early day for us. We look forward to the next adventure but the dry season is coming to an end so caving will probably be less frequent. Whenever we have a chance to go though we are there!


Rosa said...

I can only say Wow, spectacular pictures. I love them.
Thanks for sharing your great adventures.

Ivan said...

Amazing pictures! The formations defying gravity are called helictites. They draperies are called calcite veils. When the veils are long growing along the wall and have white and brown stripes, is when the are called bacon due to it's huge resemblance.

Anonymous said...

Dear Jeff and Katrina,

Awesome pictures! Have you ever considered documenting your cave adventures and pictures in a book? I grew up in PR and never knew that the cave/cavern systems in the island were so intricate. Thank you for making your pictures and comments available for the whole world to see and enjoy!

Best always,

H Jr.

Jeff and Katrina Kruse said...

Hi Jr, We are making a book for ourselves/friends but caving is very secretive. Locations of caves, maps, descriptions, and even some pictures are kept from the general public for fear of someone damaging the cave. If you put the location of a cave and show a picture of a really special formation someone might go take it. It’s unfortunate. Sometimes we have been asked to not to write about a specific or not well known cave. It takes some getting used to because we like to share.