Monday, June 17, 2013

Cueva Larga Again

On Saturday we took a California caver (Ryan Baker) and his daughter to Cueva Larga. Julie and Richard also joined us for this trip. It started with a meet-up at Panaderia Lourdes at 9am and proceeded on the twisty roads to the parking place which was well marked by bags of garbage. You just can't escape it. The walk through the jungle was about a mile and 1/4 and the heat and humidity made it seem much longer for everyone. Once we arrived, the mouth of the cave was cooler and we sat and had a snack and water before heading into the cave. This cave is very very muddy and is pretty much a straight shot that is flat without many side shoots. There is a little bit of climbing to get into the cave and there are a few places to crawl if you want or climb if you want but really it is flat and muddy with a lot of nice formations. This first photo shows some odd dimpling in the rock I thought was interesting. Jeff is standing near some mushroom-top formations (my made-up name) and unfortunately it is really impossible to show the scale of anything in this cave! These columns, the flow stone and draperies are absolutely humongous!

There are a good number of really nice, clean flow stone areas and lots of glittery areas. This cave is a bit of a walk so not many cavers have had a chance to do much damage. Jeff and I have only caved in Puerto Rico, and I am sure need some additional training before we enter caves anywhere else - we try to be careful and try hard not to walk or touch clean, still-growing formations but I am sure cavers from other areas are much more careful than we are (do you have any advice for us Ryan?? We welcome it). I always enjoy the clean, white flow stone that to me looks like a river.
There is an entire floor of this "popcorn" looking formation and we unfortunately had to walk on this area to continue. We tried to stay to the side. Up close you can see they are still growing drip by drip. There are a lot of very large column pieces that are on the ground that I think look like missiles.

You continue across this popcorn area and down the long muddy tunnel amazed at all the very large formations covering the walls and ceiling. There are a couple collapse areas and one in particular has an amazing room that is unexpectedly jammed with helictite chandeliers, white draperies and an amazing, 5 plus foot perfectly white stalagmite growing in an area surrounded by clean, mostly undamaged flow stone.

There are a couple spots in this area that look like they could continue but we don't want to damage the area trying to find that out. It is much more important to stay OUT of some areas. It is so easy to be overzealous and want to bulldoze into new territory!
I think this collapse area is the definite "highlight" of this cave or at least a nice "end." It is interesting how muddy it is and yet how many really pristine formations are in this cave. This is my third time in this cave and I still see new things! I think everyone had a good time...and then My Friend Taco as the grand finale! (that's a joke)  Another great day in a cave! Thanks to every one who came!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


I have always enjoyed plants and gardening in Puerto Rico has been very very fun indeed! When we walk through the jungle to go to caves we see things that are houseplants in the US, and any little snippet of anything I take from along the road or in the jungle usually grows into something wonderful. Fast! These heliconias were near an abandoned house on our road. When the flowers appeared shortly after we moved here, I went and dug up a few rhizomes for the yard. Even though it has only been a they are, loads of flowers just hanging and inviting humming birds for lunch.

The Angel's Trumpet I found on the side of the road as well. The arm-length blooms smell heavenly and the flowers start out yellow and turn orange as they age. It is just a stick plant (not yet a tree) but still has had 8 or 10 flowers already! I haven't gotten any parch (passion fruit) which surprises me, but at least I am getting some flowers (below).

Everything seems to be blooming or fruiting right now - the lettuce has bolted but I have replanted and have many flowers and lot of fruit to harvest while I wait for it to grow.

A Meteorite hibiscus.
Ylang-ylang is the coolest looking, best smelling flower EVER! How can you beat the leg-long heliconias though - fake colors and flowers that last for several months! Gardening in PR...a good thing.