Friday, October 19, 2012

Cats In Containers (and playthings)

It's kitty time! Like when isn't it kitty time? Our little furry buddies have gotten accustomed to the house and have new routines. I like them to sleep inside (so I know where they are) but don't appreciate the 5 am "I want to go out" call so we have have made a "magic window." We made a new screen that we cut a flap out of so the cats can come and go without waking us up. During the day they have a normal cat door but at night the window. Everyone but Blanco travels in and out, and Blanco prefers to sleep in this bowl outside the front door. Every morning I would go out and my pineapple top and dirt would be all around. Then, one evening I peeked out the window and caught him curled up on the pineapple! I put a towel in it for him but he removed it. Then he moved on to the cat pot I have started catnip in. The cat nip has only 2 leaves and Blanco I guess wants it! Tuca like this telescoping leopard print nest. Sometimes, even when it is hot she buries herself head first in it. Everyone loves the cat cubes but Jackie has the most style.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Cueva Larga Jeff Style (no dancing)

Here are some of the pictures I took in Cueva Larga Sunday.  It's a big cave and a kilometer long.  I was impressed.  As in Katrina's post though I am haunted by the starving kittens and animals.  You have to be heartless to live here.  I will come back to this spot again though.  There are just to many caves in the area. What Katrina failed to mention was that we found another cave just off of the trail to Larga.  It's much much smaller but still a nice find.  It's been visited before but not a bunch.  It needs to be mapped. It was hot and humid both inside and outside of the cave.  Just the mile walk to the cave is exhausting.  Winter is coming so things may get drier.  
Just about the only way I can take pictures is to "paint" with my flashlight.  I open the shutter for about 4 seconds.  My camera has moisture in it so it doesnt work so well.  Also, as all cameras with a built in flash, the flash makes the moisture reflect and you have all these spots in the photo.  Not so with painting.  But with painting the pictures can be blurry and they take time to set up.

 This is a Palm tree leaf!  Many of us ran into it.  The tree was laying across the trail and it looked like a regular palm tree.  The trunk of the tree also had these spines and that is what got us.  I still have some in my leg.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Cueva Larga is, Well, Large

This was my second time and Jeff's first to Cueva Larga in the Camuy area. I swore I would never go back to this area (depressing) but here I am, again. Here I am swearing this is the last time (until the next time). This time though I need to be done with it for many reasons. The main ones are the same ones I have about Puerto Rico in general but to the extreme degree - starving animals (3 kittens that ran up to us, a starving horse, dogs, birds of all kinds), garbage (heaps on heaps on heaps) and general filth at the house we pass by and all along the roadside which is basically what defines Puerto Rico. Why mention it? It really really disturbs me and if I ever get to the point where it doesn't I might as well be dead. So I came here again despite the disturbing nature of things because Jeff needed to see this amazing, huge cave. I wanted to take him into the secret white room he would likely pass by if I didn't go. Here is Tom at part of the large entrance. You get to it by hiking about 40 - 50 minutes from the car/garbage area. The hike is slightly down, follows the contour of the slope and then there it is! It was very slippery. It is hard to show the true scale of things because our cameras and lights just can't take it all in! The floor of the cave was cake mud and Diana commented that she was 2 inches talked after walking around for an hour. It did feel like we were wearing platform shoes. Jeff is gazing at one of the many formations. The floor was all mud with some occasional stalagmites but the ceiling and sides were layers and layers of formations. Most of the cave was really kind of dark and mud colored which makes showing detail near impossible. The cave heads pretty straight and then veers off and ends. We explored pretty much the whole thing in 4 1/2 hours or so.
An unusual formation we don't see much is prolific here - I call it the popcorn formation because I have no idea how they were formed or what their real name is. These stalactites and the floor were covered in this brown popcorn like stuff. We have seen similar stuff in Cueva Sorbetos. There was a lot of flowstone and I think Tom said this cave was a former route of the Tanama River. A lot of water had to have gone through here. Here's Diana trudging through the mud.
Up at the top of the collapse area there is an entrance to a pretty large room that is easy to bypass. Jeff headed past it and I went into the entry hole and remembered immediately where I was once I got in! This room is odd because it is really a bunch of collapse but at the top there are beautiful white, clean, undisturbed formations including a thin stalagmite 6 or more feet tall. Everything was drippy looking - like candle wax. There were large white areas.

My favorite part is the chandelier chamber, an area full of helictites. In my mind I see acrobats and perching birds and insects in these formations. In the middle of the mud passage I caught a glimpse of this creepy stalagmite. I think it looks like a skeletonized woman. Do you? Kind of creepy. When my light flashed over it it was freaky! Diana was nice enough to take our photo on the way out. The area is just beautiful (except for the garbage). When we are in the jungle or in the caves or underwater Puerto Rico is magic for us. When we are on the road or near people...not so much. So now Jeff has seen Cueva Larga and I am sure he is glad he has. For me I will not be returning to this particular area. We have investigated many caves from this same parking area and I just can't stomach it any more.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Cueva Cofresi

It is great to be caving again! Sometimes Puerto Rico just drags you down. Spotty services (power, water, internet), lack of services, crappy roads, bad behavior etc etc. It is easy to wonder "why are we here?" ...and then we go caving. Yesterday was a search for the illusive "treasure chest" called Cueva Cofresi. Another caving pal of ours from San German posted a video of it and we decided to give it a try. We called Tom and Diana and found out that Tom had tried to locate the cave multiple times without success but he was willing to give it another try. We were armed with actual GPS coordinates but even then there was no guarantee that we would find it. You still have to find a place to park, find a way to enter the general area of the location of the cave and then wander around without a trail to try to find it. We entered near Playa Buye and entered the mangroves walking in ankle-high stinky mud and water. None of us likes to get our feet wet at the beginning or at all if we think the cave is a dry one. After trudging across the muddy mangrove/bog area we looked for trails but didn't find any large "real" ones, just a horse trail. When we got close to the coordinate area we were near a lot of jagged rocky outcroppings and had to search all of them for what was a small opening. I found a hole we could rappel into just as Jeff found a hole we might be able to drop into and shortly afterwards Tom found a walk in entrance. Since 3 of us were at my drop in hole we rigged it and dropped in. It had a small tunnel to the right (I followed it a short ways before it ended) and a larger one to the left. We went left. Here Diana is navigating a descent from an upper tunnel. It always looks easy in the photos, but these "little" drops are taller than we are, slippery, and we are doing it with only the light from our helmets. There were a lot of upper passages, little tunnels going in all directions and in loops. It was nice and interesting for a smaller cave. We explored just about every opening we could get in to. There were a couple walk in entrances and a couple you could rappel into. It was a light and bright kind of cave with light colored rock.

This was the little tunnel to the right. A lot of air was coming through it from little slits that must have gone to the surface. There was some climbing in it but nothing extensive. The upper area is one we couldn't get to. We were close to the surface though so it couldn't go far and was probably just a small room.

Jeff is in a nice big room that is close to a walk-in entrance. The formations here were interesting. We always enjoy the tarzan vines coming through the rock from the surface. You can see the entrance to the left.

There was graffiti which is common here. Not much trash. Nothing in the cave was obviously broken (but there weren't any real nice formations that could be broken). We took a different route out in an attempt to avoid the stinky bog. We headed onto some kind of reserve/preserve and found these remnants of a building. Possibly they were from an old Sugar Mill (that's what I think). It is always interesting to see walls in fields with plants growing over them. We walked a mile or slightly less to the road and then headed to Buye for a quick swim to get the mud off and cool down. We had a very nice day. Then we went to Pica Pica Mexican restaurant that had normal service and marginal, bland food. Anything tastes good though after you have been walking and climbing and crawling. The margarita was the best. Then it was off to Tom and Diana's to pick up our car and head home after a nice, warm cup of coffee! We already have plans for next weekend to search for another cave nearby. Hopefully we will find it!