Sunday, April 8, 2012

A Day Underground

Today was spent out caving with Dan, Estefa, Ariel, and my parents.  In the early morning, Dan, Estefa and Ari came over to our hostel with a plan.  Earlier, we had tried to set up an organized caving trip with Jaime, but we never heard back from him.  So, Dan was nice enough to take us to some caving place that he knew.  We caught a taxi and started the long journey to the caves. 

The drive began on the paved highway leading out of Tena.  About fifteen minutes after we left Tena, we came the town of Archidona.  This, too, we passed and soon we turned onto a long dirt road.  After stopping at many families’ houses for directions, we finally came to a small wooden home.  The people inside were the owners of a nearby cave.  Sadly, they said that the cave had not been used for awhile and getting to it was currently not possible.  Despite the disappointment, our fearless leader, Dan, had a plan B.  After another fifteen minutes of driving, we finally came to another caving place.  We jumped out of the taxi at another small wooden house.   A medium sized man walked out of the wooden doorway with flashlights and boots.  We were going caving! 

Asking for Directions

After every one had a light, and Mom had a pair of boots (the rest of us had proper shoes), Dan, Ariel, Estefa, Mom, Dad, the guide, and I left down a narrow trail.  After trudging through thick mud and squeezing through a short narrow cavern, we came to the entrance of the cave.

Around us was a small clearing.  According to our guide, we had entered a very holy and sacred place.  Before we entered the main cavern, we looked at a more shallow cave that was, perhaps, more sacred.  This cave was about fifteen feet deep and thirty feet wide.  A gentle stream ran above the chamber creating a small trickling waterfall blocking the door way to the grotto.  Peace was in the humid and wet air.  Our guide said that here was a temple of prayer and healing, used in the days of indigenous religion and shamanism.   He said that his grandfather was the last shaman. 

We walked down a ways and came to a hole in the ground.  Rocks made the entrance tricky and hard to pass through.  We climbed down and came to a wide chamber under the ground.  Our guide told us that this was where shamans healed people and helped them with pains and sicknesses.  The shaman would leave patients down in the holy cave for one night of healing rest.  But lo!  Inside the cave was a Christian shrine!   Our cicerone told us that one of the patients staying a night in the cave dreamt about the Virgin Mary and so they converted the cave to Christianity.  I do not dislike the Christian religion, but people should stick with what they believe and follow the religion that their heart tells them.  A beautiful native religion was shattered, and why?  Because someone convinced the locals that they dreamt about Mary.  But hey, that’s just me.

The Deep, Dark Hole Leading to the Cave

From the chamber, we crawled through small tunnels and climbed up mineral rocks.  I loved the experience and was sad to see the sun again and leave the cave.  The rest of the night, the three of us ate dinner with Dan’s family and then went out for ice cream.

Today was so cool!  I loved caving but was disappointed that I could not see more evidence of the indigenous religion.  Tomorrow I go boating again!  I cannot wait!

Thank you for reading Rohan Geographic!    

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