Saturday, July 7, 2012

Puerto Rico 2012 {part III}...Caves & National Rainforest

One of the excursions we for sure wanted to go on while we were in Puerto Rico was to Las Cavernas del Rio Camuy {Camuy River Caves}, an enormous cave system home to the third largest subterranean river in the world.

So bright and early one day we headed to the caves. We got there early, but I guess not early enough, and had to wait until the group ahead of us finished their tour. This little guy was getting a bit bored... the little pumpkin decided she would entertain us and all of the other visitors with her own interpretation of a Hawaiian luau.  he he he
After watching a movie about the caves, we boarded the tram headed for our underground adventure...
{some of us were more excited than others to have our picture taken, and some of us were NOT happy that we were too little go get our own headphones and radio}
After going dOWN and dOWN and dOWN for what seemed like forever, we finally reached the opening of Cueva Clara {Clara Cave}. You can literally feel the temperature drop as you're riding the tram. The view was amazing. Cueva Clara is just a single chamber of this cave system which was developed for the public with partially iluminated walkways in 1986.
The littles were beyond excited to go on this adventure...
Can you spot the tree in the picture?  I know it's not the best picture - I was trying to keep the littles from falling into a sinkhole!! Anyhow, this tree actually grows upside down!!
Checking out the stream...the water was so clear!
This pic was taken once we reached Sumidero Tres Pueblos {Tri-Towns Sinkhole}, a giant sinkhole measuring 650 ft wide. Breathtaking! As you can see, we had to be quick on our toes with our little explorers who decided this was a perfect spot for a little hopscotch...
I don't have too many pictures after this point because safety became paramount. The downward sloping walkways were super slippery and dark and became narrower and narrower.  With two curious little monkeys in tow, Lance and I had to be extra careful to be holding their hands at all times.
I do have to say as we were approaching this area, you could definitely sMeLL the bats if you know what I mean!  We didn't see any since they're nocturnal, but boy, could we smell them!  The temperature also became hotter, another tell-tale sign, according to our guide.
We learned a lot of things...this cave system has 17 entrances, over 220 caves, and 10 miles have been mapped with more unexplored.  It is home to over 13 species of bats and many more insects and creepy crawlies. 

But one tidbit that stuck with me was this:  if you're ever lost in a cave, listen for crickets.  Crickets stay close to the openings so you'll want to follow them out!  Ha!  Can you tell I was thinking "survival mode"??!

On another of our adventures we visited El Yunque, the only tropical rainforest in the United States National Forest System.  I won't even tell you what all this humidity did to my hair!!  HA!
The waterfalls were amazing!
And I can't believe people were climbing the rocks and diving right in!! Call me a poor sport, but right or wrong, all I could think of was Naegleria fowleri...let's just chalk it up to all those years of Biology for my undergrad!
We didn't get many pictures here because we were caught in a rainstorm that came fast and furious out of nowhere!  But as soon as we made it back to our hotel in San Juan, this is what the littles wanted to do:
Yes, they have fallen head over heels in love with the beach...and that is just fine with me! :)