Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Day 8 - Mayan cave: Actun Tunichil Muknai

After a drive up a river vakkey, apst tree plantations, corn and many Mayan mounds, we started our hike to Actun Tunichil Muknai, or the ‘cave of the stone sepulchre’. After three river crossings, our feet were thoroughly soaked but this mattered nought, as we were about to get as soaked as I’ve ever been. The entrance to the cave is a tall triangle withg a turquoise pool of deep water that fades into the darkness. We swam into the cave, and boy it was cold, then clambered up the rocks on the other side of the pool inside the cave, where a huge spider sat on the rock, as of guarding its entrance. We then plunged waist deep back into the water and for the next hour clung to the sides, waded, squeezed through cracks, avoided sharp rocks, climbed, clambered and slid over up and down rocks. The cave was only discovered in 1986 and deep inside after a climb you enter the final cathedral size chamber that contains, not only stunning formations but dozens of deliberately, broken pots, skulls and skeletons. The final site, after squeezing up a further crevice and ladder, is the skeleton of young women, who may have been slain/sacrificed here, as a stone weapon lies nearby. It’s an eerie sight as she lies lit by our head torches. It was wondrous just to enter this place and wonderful to have been allowed into such a fascinating site that is more than archaeological – it was a pilgrimage into the beliefs of an ancient culture.


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