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Rio Camuy Caves

I'm not generally a fan of the dark. In fact, don't tell anyone, but growing up I would often sleep with my head inside a box because obviously the creatures of the night couldn't find me this way. The dark brought on all sorts of anxieties from monsters, aliens, and ghosts, but mainly aliens. I was deathly afraid of aliens. It's actually all my dads fault because when I was really little he made me watch a documentary on UFOs and creatures from outer space. From then on, he was obliged to sit beside my bed until I fell asleep. He laughs about it now, but it was quite traumatizing. Now I'm not so much afraid of the dark, or at least I thought I wasn't.


The Rio Camuy Caves in Puerto Rico reminded me that my fear of the dark still haunts me now and again. It wasn't aliens I was afraid of this time (Common - you thought I still slept with my head inside a box didn't you?!), but rather the multitude of bats and spiders were quite frightening. Or maybe it was the large boulders we conveniently skirted around as our guide explained that they had fallen from the ceiling above us, but not to worry, we had hard hats. Right. Once I got over my fear of a bat flying up my shorts or a two ton boulder falling from above, I ended up quite enjoying the place.


To get to the entrance of the caves we boarded a trolley which took us down a spiraling road to a sinkhole 200 feet below. As we descended the temperature cooled and the tree coverage darkened the sky above. Once at the entrance we donned our hard hats and headed in.


There are sixteen entrances to the caves and only seven miles of the passages have been explored so far. We were led into the 170 foot high Cueva Clara, a spectacular cavern complete with hundreds of stalagmites and stalactites (don't ask which is which, I always mix them up).


We learned as much as we could, considering our tour was in Spanish. By the end the guide had figured out that 75 percent of the people on her tour couldn't understand a word she was saying, so then she easily switched to fluent English. Go figure.

The tour was actually quite brief, as rains and flooding had closed off areas of the cave. We learned that the caves often close without warning in case there is any threat of a rock slide or caving in of the caverns. Lucky for us, we made it out alive.


Now that the caves had been crossed off our list, we made a brief visit to the Arecibo Observatory, the world's largest radio telescope. On the map, the observatory looked mere minutes away. In reality, like all things in Puerto Rico, it took forever to get there. The road was a roller coaster drive into the middle of nowhere, through towns where horses led passengers down the dusty roads and cattle wandered through green pastures. I thought for sure we had taken a wrong turn, for truly this had to be Texas. Eventually we made it and after parking we climbed a grueling steep slope to the entrance of the observatory. Tickets in hand we were led to a brief museum and video presentation, but we skipped over all that and went straight for the real deal. It was... a giant saucer in the ground. Not really much to look at, but quirky nonetheless. What is this giant radio telescope for you ask? Well, it was featured in the James Bond GoldenEye film, so obviously it serves as a giant movie prop. Truthfully, as one who is slightly rusty at astronomy, I'll let Wikipedia tell you all about it. But, my seven year old self will tell you they are definitely spying on aliens, that's what. Time to dust off my box.


Posted by Jennylynn 18:23 Archived in Puerto Rico Tagged tourist_sites

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The cave adventures looked amazing! I love things like that. Just going outside the box (at least in my world) and really exploring a country, inside and out.
I have been reading your blog the last 2 days and so glad that I found you. I LOVE yoru philosophy on finding travel opportunities anywhere you live. I live in Toronto (well, in a suburb of Toronto) and the travel options are out of this world. I highly recommend you make a trip down here.
I have to say that since reading your blog, I threw out Puerto Rico to a friend of mine. We are trying to plan a trip for 2011 and I think this destination would be great.
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by CanaGerm

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