Amber Epp goes spelunking

For as long as I can remember, my family always looked for the strangest, most unusual activities to do on family vacation. Our trip to Belize a few years ago was no exception. Belize has some huge caves which have undergone much archeological work, so we just had to go on a tour.

We drove our rental vehicle up from Belize City to a mountain where we met up with our tour guides. We had to leave the keys with our vehicles with the staff, just in case there was a flash flood (!). We weren’t too happy about that, but the lure of the cave was enough to make us concede.

First we had to cross a river that was low enough to walk through. Then we hiked a couple miles to the entrance of the cave. Since the river also ran through the cave, we had to don life jackets and swim through many sections of the cave (and also be careful not to hit our feet on the jagged cave floor).

After much zigging and zagging, we reached a wall that we had to climb (in our wet clothes, life jackets, and slippery shoes). It was slow going, as we were with a large group, but eventually we all made it to the top.

 

At the top, we were shown what archeologists had discovered in last 20 or so years – pieces of jars and cooking utensils, and at the very end of the cave, a skeleton of a Mayan princess that had been preserved for centuries because of its location in the cave.

The skeleton was definitely worth the venture into the cave, but now the group headed out of the cave, and we noticed that the guides had started yelling to each other, and rushing the groups out of the cave. When we left the mouth of the cave, we noticed that it was raining pretty hard. We rushed back along the river to our crossing point, only to discover that the rain had caused a flash flood, making it impossible to walk across the river.

One of the guides swam across with a rope, which was then anchored on both sides of the river. Then one by one, each person crossed with the rope (kids crossed with a guide). Meanwhile, the rest of us were waiting in the cold rain, feeling rather hungry, and wondering why we didn’t see our vehicles on the other side of the river. As it turned out, because we had crossed several rivers with our vehicles on the way to the cave (which were now flooded as well), the staff drove the vehicles to a safer location (just 5 miles away!). So once the entire troupe had crossed the river by rope, we all walked to our vehicles, where we were met with sympathetic faces and baloney sandwiches (I’m telling you, anything looks appetizing after an experience like that!).

So while I highly recommend spelunking in Belize, you better check the weather first!

Amber Epp thanks her parents for taking her on so many great adventures. To hear music from the tropics, check out the music page.

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