Friday, July 1, 2011

More Mona- the Not-Caves Part

Like I said before Mona is a buggy, harsh, not-pleasant place full of poisonous plants and not much else. When I was buying water containers I saw some $2 bug nets for your head that I picked up almost as a joke - little did I know that we would use them EVERY DAY! Here is Jeff on one of the trails to one of the caves with his little bug net on. We do a lot of caving and haven't had any exhaustion problems but this island is hot hot hot and there is no shade and the water is what you bring and it is exhausting doing anything. We ended up at this sign while looking for a cave we never found. We did find a couple others but it seemed like a never ending walk.
This mean-spirited iguana depiction is really accurate. This is one of the food boxes. We had one of these laying on its side where we stuffed our stuff. At night we heard stuff moving around and mostly it was hermit crabs, but sometimes the iguanas would walk around camp. Mainly our "food" storage hut sheltered ants. We had two invasions and had to pull everything out. After it rained a couple of the nights we had ants. Not pleasant. Why here's one of the monster iguanas now...
I did find a rock that looked like a turtle. It was outside one of the caves. Water was dripping onto it and it looked like a purposeful thing.
One thing that made the trip was the beach! I have to say I expected the typical Puerto Rican beach - beautiful but with garbage. This beach was stunningly beautiful and since no one can go there was free of garbage! It also was the lee side of the island so I am sure the other side was packed with crap but we didn't see it here! Just crystal clear water, 86 degrees or more and fairly calm. Snow white sand with pink flecks and spotty reefs.

The park rangers were really nice and let us charge camera batteries. They loaned us a vehicle so we could travel to the other part of the island and were pleasant to talk to! They thought it was funny though when I laid on the ground to photograph these palms...I was happy with the photo and didn't get clobbered while under them!
The dock had  this really big boulder near it. One of the days we snorkeled all the way down to one of the points which was  long way away. The water was nice and clear and we saw stingrays and all the usual players.
Camp was on a nice beach (except for the ant infestations). It rained a couple nights but that cooled it off and we had pulled in our "drying" towels and stuff already.
Here is our home for the week. What saved me was the air mattress - besides the mosquito head thing it was another wise thing to bring. The tarp was also smart for when it rained and it did rain pretty hard a couple nights.
You can't have a cave story without a lost soul! Deep inside every cave you will always find lost souls. For that reason cavers always bring along duc tape or gorilla tape. Nothing is worst than trying to go across sharp rock...trying to climb waterfalls or breakdown without a shoe. We had one guy lose both souls and he had to crawl out and it was awful hiking back to the car. That was part of the hog hell trip. This was Frank's moment to shine but luckily there was gorilla tape in Jeff's pack.
Caving is hard on the shoes. Tom seems to have worn out one left and one right and repackaged the remainders into a new pair! Don't throw out the good one...
There were signs here just as if it were a real park that the public has access to. Unfortunately it is extremely difficult to get permits to come here. People can come for the day in their own boats, but it better be a large boat and you better know what you are doing...Mona Passage is pretty rough. Maybe the sign is for all the activities the Dominicans can do when their little boats arrive and they claim wet foot dry foot. This gives you a good idea of what the island is like. The dark band just under the surface is a series of cave openings. Pretty darn neat!
Finally we have the Visitor's Center - a beautiful facility with future researcher labs and equipment. It isn't open yet, but here it is. Unfortunately all the solar panels that power it are facing the wrong direction and the windows don't look toward the ocean. Kind of a missed opportunity to capture breezes and views. Anyway, the Dominican's will probably get to see more of it than Puerto Rican's. Hope they enjoy it!

No comments: