Wednesday, April 05, 2006


We had an amazing day yesterday. We went caving in Actun Tunichil Muknal (Cave of the Crystal Sepulcure in Maya) a really famous cave in the jungle. There are very few tours there and soon it may be shut down due to the archaeological importance of the site. It has sacrificial skeletons laying right where they were killed and found, hundreds of mayan pots offering food to the gods and incredible limestone formations. The cave was undisturbed for thousands of years and everything is as it was left by those Mayan people all that time ago. It was like being in a magical kingdom surrounded by sparkling stalactites hanging from all ceilings.

We had to get up early and then trecked through the jungle for 45 minutes across a river and to the cave entrance. We ate our lunch outside and swam in the incredibly clear water. Going in was hard work and difficult to adjust to the darkness. We had to swim the first 10 metres then climb over a rock fall. To enter the main cave we have to slip through a smaller hole - I was scared of that but it was fine - as below you caould see the huge cave opening up. We walked and climbed almost a kilometre inside the cave. We visited the burial chambers and looked at the undisturbed archaeoligical finds. It was amazing to imagine the people who came all this way carrying their offerings and sacrificial victims. I thought it would be spooky but when we had a minutes silence switching off all the lights it was strangly peaceful, listening to the river below.

An amazing experience but completely shattering. You are wet for about 3 hours deep inside a cave. To go back you have to brace the cold water again. I was glad to see the sunlight. On the way back I tried eating termites from a tree - tasted like carrot. We also heard howler monkey and toucans, fed a friendly coatimundi (like a raccoon) and saw jaguar claw marks on a tree.

When we returned we just about managed to have dinner in town then crashed out. I have not slept so deeply in a long time.

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