Posted by: adegraffenreid31708 | 7th Dec, 2010

Caverns of Jumandy

Day 1:

Made a fantastic journey – first, to the little town of Antidona (which I didn{t see much of), andthen to the magnificent caverns of Jumandy.

First – the bus ride. I ment a charming old man (it seems just about everyone I meet is a charming old man…but they{re so nice, seem to be just tickled pink that I speak Spanish, and have lots of useful information.) So, after chatting a while, he kindly directed me to where the next bus left that would take me to the caverns.

Now, entering the cavern complex, it looks just like any over-touristed pool complex, with pools and waterslides all powered by the cavern water. But hidden away, there are 12,000 year old petroglyphs. And, a little farther than that, the caves. So, I went to the cave enterance, and there was sitting there this kindly indigeonous guide who was absolutely proud to talk about the “caves of his ancestors”, and perfectly willing to take me in – for five bucks (totally, absolutely, and COMPLETELY worth it, btw).

Now, he warned me that I would get COMPLETELY wet. I was like, fine – clothes dry. He did take pitty on me and allow me to borrow a pair of boots. Now, I heard  completely wet…the meaning of which didn{t really sink in…

The enterance of the caverns – awesome. Unlike caves I{ve been to in the states, this was real freaking caving. Not the wimpy kind with indoor lights and passages. No, we{re talking boots, and mud, and water, and head lamps. Even with the head lamps, you couldn{t really see that far in front of you – maybe two feet. Anyway, the enterance was not at all man-altered. It was jungle, then cave. Inside the cave, there was water and the river running everywhere – even at the beginning. So, you could be in three inches of water, then a foot. Super. Freaking. Cool.

The real surprise came about five minutes inside the cave. Why? My guide (who was absolutely patient and fabulous, btw – really pleased that I spoke Spanish, since he only spoke Spanish and Kichwa) looked at me and said, “give my your purse, so it doesn{t get wet in the Lagoon.” I was like “huh???”. Then, he lifted our bags over his head, grabbed a rope, and DOVE INTO THE LAGOON. Now, I hadn{t actually seen the lagoon because it was so dark before he did this. This lagoon was massive – half a swimming pool long. At the other end, this really awesome waterfall you had to climb up. So, seeing not other way, I dove in after him – fully clothed. It. Was. Great. Terrifying, but great. I mean this cave, it{s the largest cave system in the area, if not in Ecuador. It{s just FULL of bats, and really awesome-looking cave spiders, and stalagtites, and stuff.

So, after the cave, we kept on walking. He was kind enough to take pictures of me that I{ll put up when I have time and am back in Quito. We climbed up, out of the water, to a section of cave leading to an indigenous temple. During the conquest, the natives lived in the temple for 50 years, barricading themselves behind traps. Some, of which, still exist, and can be seen in the cave.

The temple itself was a long passage filled with floor-to-ceiling stalagtites/stalagmites which had joined in the middle. It was absolutely magestic. Then, we continued on to see more waterfalls and lagoons.

Then, sadly, but amazingly – the end. The end of the cave system was a steep climb up wet rocks which slowly led to the light, right up into the jungle. I had to just stop and STARE at it. It was absolutely beautiful to see the fauna slowly drift into the caves. Coming out of the caves, was just walking out into the light. It. Was. Stunning. Then it was a short walk through the selva back to the enterance. I am so glad that I did it, even if I{m now absolutely soaked and caked in mud from head to toe. Hey, beind dirty is a sign of a good day, a good job, or a good story.

Next, I am off to a wildlife sanctuary called, no joke, The Island. Jokes now, please.

So yeah, I am coming back completely broke, but happy.

I{ll update with pictures later.

Oh, yesterday, I forgot to talk about the waterfalls. OMG, you have never seen so many waterfalls in one place. there was a sign on the bus ride from quito calling the province “the route of the water”. They weren{t joking. I counted a good 50 waterfalls on the route to Tena. Big ones, small ones, trickles, magestic streams, right next to the road, barely visible in the mountains. It was incredible. I love being in a country with such abundant beauty. Not that the states doesn{t have some of the most magestic views I{ve ever seen…you just generally have to work a lot harder to see them. 😉

So, yeah, moved hotels. This one, the door locks and the light turns on. Massive improvement.

Now, off to try and air dry.

Responses

You’re visiting all the good places before I get there….what will be left to do with me?

Your mom and I once went thru a cave in WV (Sinks of Gandy) that involved following a river through the cave, swimming at one point.

oh, so much more than we could possibly do in a week 🙂

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