We woke up around 6:40 in the morning and while Esme made breakfast for us, I gathered the stuff we wanted to take with us, and put it in my backpack. Just after eight o'clock we heard a car honk outside. Rocio had arrived. Since there was only place for Esme and Alice in the cabin next to Rocio, I had to travel in the loading area of the Volkswagen Pointer pickup, which is not an uncommon thing in Mexico.
After a short trip - with a stop in Las Trancas to buy some bottles of water and a few grain bars - we arrived at the exit to Pinoltepec. After some driving Rocio asked if we were still on the road to Pinoltepec. I consulted my Google Earth print out, and told her that I guessed we were almost there. So we drove on and I greatly enjoyed the views from the loading area of the pick up.
Shortly after we did arrive in Pinoltepec. Rocio drove into the town, and started to ask directions. My print out had four photo markers and one of the photos I had seen via Google Earth (Panoramio) suggested the entrance of a cave. However, it was a good thing that Rocio and Esme asked for directions - resulting on the third occassion in a local man guiding us - otherwise we would have never found the cave. Or at least not the cave I had seen in the photo.
After a short walk on a sand road I noticed the canyon to our left. We admired the great view. I said to Esme: "One day we come back to explore the canyon." We continued our walk with our guide, and after some time he lead us through an opening in a fence, and we went down a slope into the canyon. Soon we walked between flowering coffee plants which gave a pleasant smell, a smell Esme later compared to that of Jasmin. To our left and our right we could also see large mango trees with fruit, providing some shadow.
When we arrived at another fence our guide left us. He had told us that we just should continue to follow the track and we would arrive at the cave. He also had told us that the cave had another exit, something I already had guessed based on two other photos I had seen via Google Earth (Panoramio), each showing light entering the cave. The growth to the left and the right of the track got more and more dense, and now and then we had struggle a little with branches.
The vegetation got more dense, and more green, the lower we got. After some time we were walking between green trees, green shrubs, and green plants. The stones I saw on the forest floor were moss covered, and the surroundings reminded me a lot of the canyon near Chavarillo, which was not a big surprise because the distance between Chavarillo and Pinoltepec is less than 5 km as the birth flies.
We kept following the track, and then we saw it, the cave entrance. It was much higher than we all had expected. I got my flashlight out - an Energizer with one bright white LED and 4 triple-A batteries with little power left - and my home made portable UV light source. We walked a little in the cave, and noticed two birds flying around hunting for insects, probably a couple of swifts. There was some water in the cave, and it dripped down into a small pool which was a few meters below the cave mouth. I said that there most likely lived bats in the cave, and that we had to be careful not to get bitten; no panic when one lands in your hair. I made several photos inside the cave, and we did indeed hear the sounds of bats.
We walked carefully deeper and deeper into the cave. It was clear that the flashlight I had taken with me was not really sufficient. And when the ceiling got lower and lower, and it looked to me that we had to crawl to go further, we decided not to go further, but come back one day. And ask if it really is possible to walk all the way to another exit.
On the way back I used the UV light to look for scorpions. Some species do live in caves, and one never knows. I also checked under some small stones. I climbed upon a ledge, and when I wanted to look under a few small stones I heard bats very nearby. So I took out my camera, and made a few photos, guessing where the bats where. Now and then I could hear them fly away after I had taken a photo.
After a few photos - a few in order not to disturb the bats too much - I continued to walk towards the entrance. The girls were already standing in the cave's mouth. I looked a bit more under a few stones, and between stones with the UV LEDs but couldn't find a single scorpion. But I was sure that one day we would return, and if possible, would explore much deeper into the cave.
I joined the girls, and we took a few photos of the cave, and talked about what we had seen and mostly heard. I showed the photos of the bats I had made. We looked at the pool below us, and I said that I wanted to follow the riverbed for a while, looking for scorpions, and other animals. But first we decided to have a break. Esme had cut some mango and melon in little pieces before we left, and now we ate the refreshing fruit. Suddenly we spotted a blue morpho, a very large and beautiful butterfly that is, in my experience very hard to take a photo of. And shortly after we saw another, and another.
After a while I decided to look how we could get down to the little pool and start following the riverbed. The girls continued their break, while I explored the ground near the little pool. I looked under a few stones, but found nothing of interest. Esme called, and she pointed at another blue morpho. Until recently, during our hike near Rafael Delgado, we hadn't seen so often a blue morpho on a single day. But the day would even get better, and then some more.
I started to explore the riverbed and sometime later the girls joined me.
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