From Piñones in Puerto Rico
La primera vez que vi su pálida belleza, tenía la edad de mi hija, doce. Fue en las navidades de 1989 en Boston, y, al igual que en ésta ocasión, visitaba familiares. La noche que nos dió la bienvenida a Connecticut, no era tan fría como aquella de veinticuatro años atrás. En ese recuerdo, su helado toque sobre la piel desnuda de mis juveniles manos cortaba como filo de navaja, y fue entonces, que el desagrado por el frío nació en mí.
Era un tiempo diferente, una ciudad diferente, al igual que esos que me acompañaban. Cuando la noche me tocó con su frialdad al salir del aeropuerto de Connecticut estas pasadas navidades, estaba preparada, pero no era mi estado el que me preocupaba sino el de mis hijos, que sonrieron exaltados y llenos de curiosidad, deleitados de ver rastros de lo que días atrás fue una blanca nieve. Yo, respiré profundamente, el aire frío llenó mis pulmones y el desagrado desvaneció. Con él marqué el principio de nuevas transformaciones en mi vida. Solo quedaba disfrutar de la primera experiencia invernal de mi descendencia y empaparme de recuerdos para una eternidad.
We made it to a known town of my youth, Arecibo. It’s pavement road roaring by the touch of the fast pace car’s wheels. It has always roared. The undulated green silhouette of the mountain range, defined the horizon under a sky of pale blue and fluffy grayish cumulus. It might rain. Chimneys tall and thin remain of a past not forgotten of sugar canes.
Untamed grass lands thrive alongside the road that leads straight to the mountains. As we ascend we are greeted by droplets of rain that rapidly disappear from the windshield. In the back seat my daughter stares through the window, while my son asks “Have we made it to the mountain?” I smile, he still thinks we are going to “una montaña rusa” confused by the term “montaña”, hopefully he won’t be disappointed. “Almost there,” I answer.
To our surprise the place is packed of people wishing to have the same adventure. We’re not alone. A Texaco station surrounded by dozens of cars and motorcycles serves as a stop for the adventures. There a wooden lounge stands near the entrance marked by a brown sign with caption white letters, which reads Cueva Ventana. A round of Medallas (Puerto Rican beer) calms the thirst of my companions and then, we are off.
Our steps followed the ones left behind and now invisible on the smooth pale rocky path that stretched alongside bushes, tall grasses and a canopy of trees that shades us from the sun. We walked exchanging jokes of how exhausted we might get or if we would need assistance after the hike, because of our lack of exercise in our lives. But, to say the truth the road was not difficult, instead it was pleasant, especially with company and the felt embrace of nature all around us.
The first cave was at our left marked by a sign, “Ruta”. We were tempted to go in, but looked steep and with a five year old, who was wishing to go in, that could be more than an adventure. So, on we went up the hill to find production workers from the movie “Runner, Runner” changing with their equipment the natural surroundings that we should have encountered and were dying to experience. Instead of bird chirping and the sounds of bats and the breeze and the conversations of excitement of multitude of visitors, the strong noise of an electric plant powering the lights placed on the interior of the cave was deafening.
The waiting took a couple of minutes to start descending the man made steps, just a few the caves greets you with her own rocky ones. Thankfully for us parents, ropes meant for the cast of the movie were placed near the steps and were a big help as we entered hand in hand with our children the mouth of “Cueva Ventana”.
Inside, there was no need of flashlights for the artificial lights placed lighted the way, on a normal day you would and in some parts, me and my daughter explored, were needed. The winding and short entrance path takes you to the first chamber. A dome like with dozen of holes serving as niches for the bats that slept close together, probably desiring to be left alone. A narrow corridor lighted at its end by natural light takes you straight to the chamber of the window that gives the cave’s name. You don’t see anything else, not even the people standing in awe in front of it, but the grand opening that gives you a gorgeous glimpse of the panoramic view of the land at its feet stretching as far as the eye can see. A wonder of Puerto Rico!
I look at my daughter as she was admiring with amazement, “Mom, this is awesome!” I smile, “It is,” and hold her hand tight as we walk closer, with care, towards the window. There were others braver than me, for I’m scare of highs, going down to get near the opening. I snap pictures on my camera and my phone, when I notice the picture taken of those in front, all taking pictures at the same time on their phones.
A stone face, if you use your imagination, stares at the horizons from the right corner of the window opening of the cave as a silent guardian. Soft rain starts to fall outside making the view even more beautiful. A calm river runs through the grassy green land below, serving as a mirror for the mountain. It is a scenery regal and grand deserving of a fantastical tale.
We part to take on the other cave that’s beside “Cueva Ventana”, which you must go down and out of it by way of rope, so my husband and son stay behind to meet us at the other side of the cave. The floor was more slippery than the other and in complete darkness. A tree root stretch its way down the cave’s floor as stating his domain. The second cave was just a huge chamber that we explore for a few minutes and came out of it climbing the rocks and holding the hands of our companions that helped us up.
The road waited for us as traffic of visitors made their way up the hill. Back at the gas station, we said our goodbyes to our companions and headed to Tonny’s Pizza World in town, which serves an amazing pizza, to finish our day and browse the pictures we took- and, of course, upload some to our social networks- but most importantly, to talk with our children of their experience. Their smiles are our rewards and my son was not dissapointed.
- Limestone: Caves and Caverns (creationscience4kids.com)
- 20 Spellbinding Pictures Of Caves From Around The World (oddstuffmagazine.com)