Exploring Bat Caves in Puerto Rico
When Bob showed me a picture of a hole in a mountain and people looking out- I was intrigued. How did they get there? Did they climb in, find a hole in the ground, where they stuck in there?
Only slightly kidding about that last part, the hikers did actually find a hole in the ground, climbed through a bat cave and were given this view as their reward.
Bob was sold on the hole bat cave idea pretty quickly. “Haven’t you ever wanted to go exploring in a cave?” He said with big eyes, like we were Ponce de Leon and this was 400 years ago and we were the first people to have ever seen something called ‘a cave’.
Fast forward and thanks to the internet, the cave isn’t completely unknown and in fact, there is a small $5 dollar fee just to hike up the side of this mountain. (This fee can easily be waved, as our driver talked to the locals who had set up a picnic table as the entrance gate and we walked in for free.)
There are a couple of things you have to know- I LOVE exploring new places. I love finding little gems. I love hiking and climbing and being outdoors. I do not love bugs. Which, as you can imagine, is a huge problem with being outside. Armed with my bug spray and sunscreen, Bob and I set out to find this magical hole in the ground.
We had jointed down a few directions to Cueva Ventana that we found off Puerto Rico Day Trips site. “Follow the road until it forks, stay right and then split off to your left.” This is the thing about directions and unpaved, hiking directions in particular, many paths could look like forks in the road. We passed the main fork like three times because it didn’t actually look like a fork. This mistake only cost us five minutes, so wasn’t too big of a deal.
Then you see it. A huge hole in the ground that looks like something out of LOST or Swiss Family Robinson. The adventurer in me was hoping for a fun, light hearted Swiss Family Robinson cave, but as we were climbing into the muddy cave, it seems more like a scene with The Others on LOST.
After a few steps into the cave it was completely dark… and quiet. Luckily we did bring flashlights (and wore the right closed toed shoes) to help safely guide us through.
That’s when we heard them. Bob shined his flashlight up and that’s when we saw them. Hundreds of bats. Most were just hanging out- literally- and a few dozen or so flying around at the top. They were making little noises back and forth.
Here’s a little short video to show you how freaking dark it really was (8 seconds):
The cave was muggy, dark and quiet. Besides the bats and us, there wasn’t any one else around. We guided the flashlights around the cave and together closely walked through the middle of the cave. While it seems like we were in there forever, it was maybe- maybe- a total of ten minutes. Felt like eternity!
But on the other side, that is when you see it- the reason you drove an hour away from San Juan, the reason you hiked through mud, and the reason you might have bat poop on you- the view. And, then you realize that this is why you travel. Moments like this- moments where you do feel like Ponce de Leon, you feel like the first explorer, and you feel like the special place is all for you.
As Bob filmed, I went over to the edge and sat down. I know this will sound ridiculous but I sat down and felt empowered. I felt like I could seriously conquer the world. And at the same time, I felt so small. Here I was exploring this beautiful place and it is only one tiny little section of the world.
As we drove away in the car, I tweeted a few photos and sent my mom a text of where we had just been. She replied, “Wow, that person is brave”, commenting on a phone of a person sitting on the edge of the overlook. I smiled and actually giggled out loud- “That is ME!”
When I hit send, I actually felt pretty brave too.