Sunday, April 3, 2011

This is Why We are Here...Caving in Utuado

Jeff is in New Mexico for work and is eating at wonderful restaurants that have good service and good food...he is driving 5 minutes to work with courteous going to stores that have things in them...but he missed an excellent jungle/cave trip. Don't worry honey, we will do this one again because you need to see it! It started in the typical way...someone doesn't show up on time (or at all in this case)...someone doesn't have lunch etc etc. Despite all that, those of us that appeared left for the cave in a reasonable amount of time. Tom suggested I leave my car. I figured something was up so I did. We drove around and around between magotes ( these "hills") and finally came to the place. I never know how he knows these places even though he shows us topo maps etc. We drive up to a house that is in the middle of all this (no other houses around). It is of course disgusting with garbage all over, too many dogs, animals in cages etc. I never understand this because the road to their house has obviously been planted with wonderful flowers and shrubs for quite a ways. Well, let's skip my anger about that.

The people, who despite their self-made living conditions, are very nice and point us to a trail that this time really is a trail. It goes for 30 or 40 minutes down the steep hillside. We get to an entrance that doesn't give a clue about what is inside. We scramble in and immediately I can see how immense this cave is - it is wide, tall, and has formations that are absolutely huge. This first one is just inside the entrance. This column at some point fell over and another column formed on top of it. It is HUGE!

Diana is looking up at it. Everything is fused together into one structure but you can see time flash before your eyes as you look closer. Tens of thousands of years.The cave is free of garbage and spray painting which is unusual for a walk-in cave. There is a lot of damage to formations where careless cavers or other visitors have put muddy hands on growing stalagmites or have broken off formations by leaning on them, grabbing them and who knows what else. There is also a lot of natural damage where things have collapsed or fallen. Diana is looking at a broken formation here.

Photos don't give you a clue about the scale of things here. Crappy cameras aren't wide enough and you can't light a completely dark expanse like this. Here Juan is entering a room. There are helictites, curtains, bacon, flow stone, dams, sorbetos, columns etc on a huge scale here.

The cave is extremely muddy - cakey muddy - but amidst the mud are actively growing formations. How beautiful is this?

Helictites are the circ-de-sole of the underworld - anti gravity formations that curl off in multiple directions. There are many helictite chandeliers that are just too high up to photograph.I don't care how many times I see things, I am still astounded at the magic of it all. What if we could live long enough to see these formations 100 years from now...1000 years from now?

We always see maria tree seeds inside caves that have bats but these sprouted quite tall given that they are deep where there is no light. Must have been a large seed with a lot of energy stored. The leaves were perfectly albino. Just look at this...

and this. Tom is having a look around. Diana is posing near another column. It was really hard to try to get the whole thing in the photo.

Here is one of the many beautiful, white, newly forming (time is relative here) formations in danger of being wrecked by backpacks, muddy gloves and careless people. There are many white formations in this cave. This cave is spectacular because of the size of the formations. It is just amazing!So when it was all over we washed off, hopped in the car (and then out of it multiple times) and went down a "road" Tom knew about. He told the other non-4-wheel drive SUV not to try it. We drove over trees, limestone chunks, around steep drop-offs, through muddy puddles etc etc. What an adventure! It was a long 5 miles of extreme fun! It was something I would never ever do and the car didn't bottom out until the very last part! When Diana forwards photos of that part of the adventure I'll post a couple! Wow is all I can say. (and of course "what's next"?)


Anonymous said...

great go and move to New Mexico

Anonymous said...

stop reading

Jeff and Katrina Kruse said...

Anonymous, why are you upset that we point out some of the problems with living in PR? We live here and want it to be better. Are you happy with your dead dogs and garbage? Do you like to run red lights? You probably don’t wash your hands after using the restroom either because if you did you would know how irritating it is not to have paper towel or soap.

If the New Mexican caves were closer to ABQ and it was a little warmer in the winter and if there were places to kayak maybe we would. In 20 miles of hiking I only saw one lunch plastic baggy and a business card. Both of which I picked up. If I tried to pick up the garbage I see on the trails of PR I would never get to leave the parking area. I also haven’t seen a dead dog or even a stray dog since I have been here.


Anonymous said...

I think most of us, including natives like me, complain about the trash and the way most things are cared for here. It breaks my heart everytime I see the road in Mayaguez covered in so much trash. Having visited other contries, such as the US, I see that it is possible to make society learn to do better. But well, that depends on the individual.

Great blog and post, happy to see your adventures :)

Anonymous said...

I think it comes down to a basic lack of respect for each other, the environment, and for what you have. Very disappointing. Puerto Rico has the highest home ownership of the states territories/commonwealths and people don't seem to value their homes. This is not a money issue - brooms are cheap and garbage is free. That is why it is hard to understand. Nothing will change until people say something about it. If you tolerate it it teaches everyone else that the problem will be ignored. We see police "cheating" on the highway, throwing out plastic water bottles etc etc. Young kids in front of schools throw trash on the ground and no one says a thing. No corrective behavior. In California a bottle bill did wonders, that and public humiliation. We need some of that here. katrina

Anonymous said...

Well, personaly I can't say I tolerate it(when I was a kid I threw some trash en la autopista, and my mother stopped the car just to scold me, and that was the first and last time I dared do something like that)
, but theres not much one can do. Taking care of homes and such depends on the owners...sometimes economic/time management problems stand in the way. It's an excuse and it's sad but theres not much to do, unless you've got the time and money and the effort. For the trash it would be good to get the comunity involved in activities and such. Not sure about new laws(I'm not entirely convinced they would be enforced correctly) but some sort of economic "gift" for keeping spaces clean would do wonders...a little help in la planilla maybe :P If we get people to see their efforts rewarded..or see the positive effects..maybe they'll get rid of the bad habits.

Anonymous said...

and you're right, brooms are cheap but like I said, it depends on the individual. You can't force people to do something they don't want to have to convince them it's for the greater good:P

Anonymous said...

Jeff for the past 3 days i have been reading your blog and let me tell you that you and KAtrina have been complaining about everything regarding about living in Pr.DO yourself a favorgo and read Geoff and Michell blog and learn from them.Things didnt work foe them in PR and they move on without complainig and quiet .You make the choice of moving to PR so stop been a hipocrite of where,you live and move on if that what you need to do in other to find happiness.Luis

Anonymous said...

luis - With all the posts about the beauty of the cave systems, the wonders of of the jungle and the great fruits and vegetables that can be grown...our wonderful cats and experiences with friends -all you see are the complaints about garbage and driving. Seems like these things must bother you too. Maybe you can start your own blog about throwing garbage, being rude to people and hating Americans (of which you ARE one like it or not). Maybe you can write about how wonderful Puerto Rico will be when it is independent and like Haiti. Thanks for your "insight." katrina

Jeff and Katrina Kruse said...

Luis, what’s wrong with complaining?

I say the same things in "real" life also. Sure, some people don't want to hear it. But maybe, just maybe someone will think about getting their dog fixed or not throwing garbage on the ground. Maybe I can shame them from blocking an intersection.

I live in PR so I complain about PR. Do you want me only to complain about the US? Ok, how about the last president and how he destroyed our country. How about the banks. How about corruption and crime?

There are problems everywhere, where can I move so I won’t complain? Or maybe I should just complain about my sore back and foot or my throat hurts because the air is so dry in ABQ.

Instead I’ll pick on PR because it’s so in your face AND the problems are EASY to fix. Spay and neuter your animals they are not wild, pick up your garbage, drive in a civil manner. “Culture” is no excuse for bad behavior.

Fran and Steve said...

For heaven's sake, please stop trying to reason with hater REINALDO LUGO (who now posts anonymously). He is part of the problem. Although there are Puerto Ricans who participate in the bad behavior we all criticize (littering, mistreatment of animals, etc.), they really are in the minority. The problems are caused by those certain individuals (who call bad behavior a PR cultural element) and ignored by law enforcement. Can't you just delete his comments? They are distracting from this fabulous blog that focuses on all the wonders of Puerto Rico. We civilized Puerto Ricans who want Puerto Rico to be a law-abiding, animal-protecting, clean island are pleased when those issues are published and disseminated. Public awareness and sense of shame can go a long way toward making Puerto Rico a more civilized society. If REINALDO LUGO doesn't like American freedoms such as free speech (which does not include HATE SPEECH), he can go live in China or someplace in the middle east. -- Fran

Rosa said...

Katrina - most gorgeous pictures! Love the details!