Awesome Time lapse video of Kiev
That city by the bay.
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The iconic Golden Gate Bridge
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We take risks not to escape Life… but to prevent Life from escaping us.
I came upon the Aventurassite while looking up what I was going to do in Puerto Rico. I dismissed at first, deeming the caving adventure too expensive, even though it was rated by National Geographic as one of its 500 of the World’s Greatest Trips. However, after mulling it over for a few days and the encouragement of my roommate I changed my mind and booked their Caving adventure (they also do a Canyoning adventure).
The 5:45am pickup time is kick-you-in-your-groin jarring, it is brutal for being on holiday. The only ordinary part of the day you will encounter is the check-in with the guides for the day. Then before you know it a red carpet is rolled out, the Indiana Jones theme music blares, a faux megaphone beckons you to board the bus and we are off on this adventure. I don’t know what the guides put in their coffee but they are inconceivably bubbly at this god-forsaken hour. Our guides at the pick-up were Rossano Boscarino (Lead Guide) and Anibal Reyes(Chauffer, Guide and Comedian). Both Rossano and Anibal make the drive to the caves unforgettable, Anibal provides an amazing array of noise-effects that compliment Rossano’s jokes. The constant Indiana Jones references almost convinces you that you are embarking to the Temple Of Doom.
A local bakery, serves as the halfway point pit stop before we hit the entrance of the cave. Here we pick-up the sandwiches Rossano ordered for us from the bus and any additional water/drinks.
A discrete pathway off a rural road is the starting point of our adventure. Aventuras has a station setup, where you can leave your belongings, take showers and change. I was first off the bus and made my way to the backpack lockers, I almost laughed at what welcomed me at the locker - a snake. I thought it was one of the many gags that the guides had been playing on us since the bus. After seeking confirmation from Johnny (another guide who had joined), it indeed was real and fortunately non-poisonous. Suffice to say I made sure all the pockets in my back pack were zipped-up!
From here we were off to the get our training in repelling/zip-lining and climbing the via ferrata (Italian for “iron road”) at the staging area that Aventuras has setup. The initial decent to the staging area also serves as a gauge for the physical abilities of each individual.
After we were equipped with the appropriate apparatus for zip-lining and repelling we were off (yours truly volunteering to go first). The thrill of zip-lining across a jungle sinkhole is like no other. The smells emanating from the jungle flora, the dew filled air being disturbed by your being and your iris’ adjusting to decipher each of the many hues of green coming from the jungle floor and the canopy above is a sensory overload. There are four zip-lines on your way to the entrance of the caves. Each being as spectacular as the last. Next up was a repel down the cliff over-hang of the caves entrance, at this point you begin to soak up the humidity in the air around you.
Once at the entrance of the cave, the humidity is so abundant it makes photography almost impossible.
After the entire group had gathered we were off into the belly of the cave. Not even five minutes into the we were faced with our first jump - a relatively small ten foot drop into the river makes sure you are drenched for here onwards.
As we meandered through the caves, the occasional fruit bat would fly-by or the helmet flashlight would spot a scorpion, or the alien-like spiders. The roaches were the most wildly abundant, and I would not suggest this to the roach phobic! But, the beauty of the calcite deposits are all-around and could be easily missed in the damp, dark environment. The calcite deposits that form the stalagmite formation on the floor of the cave are so course, at one point we were able to scale a wall of calcite without using any ropes. At the decent of this same wall was the ‘Lake of Nutella’, as Rosanno described. At one point, the cave was flooded by a huge tropical downpour and once the water seeped through the porous rock it left behind the type of mud that has an appetite for all kinds of shoes. To overcome losing our shoes, we were instructed to run, run like hell. The scene that followed went something like this: imagine beams of light bouncing off walls, mud being kicked up in all directions- sometimes settling precariously closed to an open mouth that is sucking in every bit of the dense, heavy air. The inevitable happened, someone lost a shoe, albeit momentarily - he was one of the lucky ones - usually the shoes are never to be found.
After conquering the Lake of Nutella, everyone paused for a moment to catch their breath. Next up was the blind 20’ jump, everyone shuts off their helmet lights and gets to experience this exhilarating jump. Next up was the sump that we were warned of earlier- indeed the sump was the reason why we set out on our caving adventure so early in the morning. Before we move on, a Sump is the passage in a cave that is submerged under water. This particular sump was navigable without oxygen tanks during the morning, prior to the downpours of the afternoon. Fortunately, we got there with about a foot of air between the roof of the sump and the water level.
After navigating these obstacles we stopped for lunch (sandwiches we had bought earlier at the bakery). The Aventuras team does a great job in setting this up- the location for lunch is in a huge opening in the cave, the acoustics are incredible and they are at the ready with some soothing music and lanterns that light-up the huge concert hall-like cavern. Padding is provided for both comfort and to keep us away from any Guano that may be present on the cave floor. After lunch, we were back were headed back stopping to marvel at some huge calcite formations and then there was the Lake of Nutella to be tackled. This time no shoes were lost.
We floated out of the cave the same way we entered and then it was onto conquer two more zip lines and the via ferrata. on the way back to Aventuras outpost to clean-up after the muddy and drenching excursion.
It is definitely one of my top ten moments of all my travels. It is exhilarating and the camaraderie that is fostered during a relatively short period of time is a testament to the effort the guides put into ensuring this.
Back in the outpost were replenished with some snacks and shared battle stories. And then, before we knew it, it was time to head back to San Juan.
Everyone was still in a buzz, adrenaline still running high. Eventually though, most people gave into the tiredness, the lack of sleep including myself and the bus quietened down. Some fell asleep, some listening to music in retrospect of what was achieved that day in the Puerto Rican jungle.
For anyone going to Puerto Rico, I highly advise doing this! It is truly a rewarding and unlike any other way to spend your vacation.
Contact AventurasPR at:
firstname.lastname@example.org or their website at http://www.aventuraspr.com/
Besides Rossano and Anibal the Aventuras team consists of:
Huge Thanks to the entire team in making the Caving experience so unforgettable!
“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” Lao Tzu #travel #travelquotes #traveler