In a Pumpkin Patch, A Cave Entrance is Found

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Arsenio Hau’s uncle was picking pumpkins when they found a big hole in the field, covered by vines. He fell part of the way in, and he got trapped. When he was rescued with ropes and they shined flashlights down the hole, they discovered the Caverna Nueva Vida, or New Life cave.

About 84 km from the bustling Cancun hotel zone, we were introduced to a family of Mayans who now lead tourists on excursions to exotic places like this big cave.

We rapelled about 30 feet down into the mouth of this cave wearing miner’s lights and gloves, and then hiked about 100 feet among eerie stalagmites and stalagtites, jagging down from the ceiling. Stooping to avoid hitting our hardhats on the ceiling, we clambored through the moist chambers. A bat clung to one, and flew off when we inspected him closely.
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At one point we sat in a circle and turned off our lights. The silence was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. It was like being blind, absolutely devoid of any light, and no one shuffled or coughed. We sat there for what felt like a very long time, alone yet together in the consuming silence and inky blackness. It was strangely comforting, yet I began to have a twinge of claustrophobia and wanted to go back up. That involved hooking up to the ropes and waiting as we were inched back up into the light.

Then we joined our guide with his relatives in their tidy cement home. Out back they had a pen with deer they were raising and a pen full of turkeys and a few geese. The ground was hard to walk on, so littered with rocks large and small. Our guide told us that farming here is damn hard, just trying to get something to grow among these prolific rocks and the sand in between.

They had cooked us a chicken underground, using hot stones and wrapping the bird, onions and squash in banana leaves. Their little girl giggled as she put on some earrings she was given, and held tight to Cindy’s hand, enjoying the attention from her new-found tia.