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Archive for the ‘Cuba’ Category

Behave Yourself! – Rockwatching Blogging Protocal

 

scan0001, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Well, Rockwatching has been up and running for a number of years now (5 to be exact) and I believe it has contributed significantly to the interest of people like myself who like caving, rocks, the outdoors, gems and minerals in Ontario.

We are just a few short days from 2011 and I believe it’s high time we made some resolutions -all of us  (you my loyal fellow bloggers as well).

So in the interests of all involved a few ground rules to follow on Rockwatching from now on

1) Lets not carry a personal vendetta onto this site which is meant to be a forum where like minded enthusiasts can interact in a positive way.
2) Lets respect each other and try not to get personal when we are frustrated.
3) Lets respect the basics of conservation and eco-minded thought.
4) Lets not assume stuff we don’t know for sure (hence the survey at the bottom of the post).
5) Lets keep in mind that this is all about enjoyment.
6) Lets keep in mind that just because the topic is on the table, every single aspect that pertains to it is not an open book.
7) Lets respect people who are not on the site, private property, reputations etc. Just because there is discussion of a site or feature does not mean permission has been granted to go there.

8) Lets not get petty, self righteous or important. Stop correcting my grammar, spelling or use of terms. I am a writer at heart and so I believe I can use the language as I please (providing it’s in good taste, or if I choose, not in good taste).

9) Lets not waste my time by having to re-direct you to one of the above rules.

Happy and prosperous 2011 – Mick

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Cuban Farm – Beyond the Playa

This picture appeared in the July/August 2008 issue of “Atmosphere” – Air Transat’s inflight magazine. My article was “Beyond the Playa” though initially I had called it “Mario and the Crocodile”. Mario was not one of the fellows in this picture, he was our host and a very decent and generous Cuban at that! My visit with Mario was on the same trip that I visited the Cuevas de Bellamar with Jesus (pronounced hay-zeus).

Before dinner we went on a tour of Mario’s farm – he had an alligator on a chain that he goaded for our entertainment. It lived in a scum covered cement pool behind the shed where he kept his Lada. I wondered if I could keep a pet like that, but come to think of it, we have some kind of exotic pet law back in Guelph.

Here is a little bit of how the article had initially appeared (though in “Beyond the Playa”, the editor had coaxed it into something more about the dinner than the crocodile) …

““My he looks like a nasty fellow” I commented to my host. The creature eyed me coldly. “How long have you had him?” “9 years” “ And I suppose you are going to take his belly skin? Use it for handbags? Gangster shoes?” “Si, my pet, I feed”.  Still no reaction from the beast, it seemed indifferent to its fate. I doubt that it understood me, but then again, neither did my host.

Life never fails to amaze, I wondered at the bond that must have developed over those 9 years. Master gazing fondly over his ill-tempered charge; a rusty chain fastened around its armoured neck. Reaching over in provocation the farmer yanked it’s tether and the beast went absolutely beserk, snapping and thrashing it let loose a fetid hiss from its gaping mouth. Whereas a dog bites at 300 pounds per inch this killer pulverizes bone at a crushing 5000 pounds pressure.

I wondered what it was that had bought me here. My resort offered a perfectly suitable meal – rice and beans – typical Cuban fare, and chicken or some kind of fish. “What kind of fish?” I would ask. “Cuban fish” they would invariably reply.

Well here I was in the banana grove of a farm near Varedero; overlooked by the various creatures who lived there, my host’s Cocker Spaniel, Hootie, the hootia and of course the angry beast. “Nombre?” I asked my beaming host. “Crocodillo” he told me. The “Tinyosa” – great flapping black vultures watched from a tree nearby. I am sure they hoped that I might get to close.”

As for the piggies in the picture, sweet and snuffling as they were, I believe we derived a significant amount of guilt. I hadn’t realized that one of their brethren would serve as dinner until a part of him/her appeared with our meal. I believe we would have paid for his freedom if we’d realized the consequence of our visit, but then again, a wild pig soon grows ferule and even uglier, so freedom for these creatures might be good in theory, but in practicality Mario’s family would go hungry and so would we – “Circle of Life”.

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Cubans

I went for a walk along the beach front one morning. it was kind of a run down place and eventually I reached a settlement of some kind that had served as a holiday resort for Russians. On the way back these two characters emerged from the trees and followed close behind me making conversation.

Well one thing led to another and before I knew it I was getting a guided tour of their world. I saw the swimming pool – Olympic size but empty, the disco (a concrete pad beside the ocean with a barbecue) and the inlet from where a nearby oil rig was drawing water. A security guard was stationed there but these two guys were his friends so hung out a while and they chatted with him in Spanish.

I also met the community dog, a little runt that they seemed to love. Sadly it was almost hairless and covered in big pink welts and scabs.

If nothing, Cubans are happy, smiling and very generous. They don’t have much, and crime seems almost non existent. I get the feeling that these people are kind of innocent. There is no doubt in my mind that their poverty would be hard to take, but I also think that as a society they are in many ways better than us. Check out this site (Child of the Revolution), this person thinks otherwise.

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Anybody know about caving clipart?

Thoughts of tunnels deeper in.

You might be interested to compare this picture to the one I have included three or four posts earlier of the Cuevas de Bellamar – Cuba. Aside from the size difference you might also notice the difference in tunnel crossection. Any idea why? Are there any cavers out there who would like to interperet the elliptical as opposed to the flat bottomed reason for the two tunnel shapes? Any knowledge of red Cuban limestones? I would be really interested to know about the kind of limestone that the Cuevas de Bellamar had formed in.

This picture is taken deeper in along the small passages at the edge of the small escarpment. I hope with summer investigation we might find a way to penetrate deeper in.

Water flows across the more easily crawlable direction of these tunnels that proceed parallel to the resurging stream nearby – this indicates to me that there is something deeper in – this is not just a passage that leads along beside the river.

See the channel in the floor. There are several that run out toward the river from deeper in the river bank. The more I think about it, the more I feel resolved to investigate the bigger scarp in the Spring. I’ve never been up top.

Just a question, Anybody know where I can find some good caving clipart? I am preparing a presentation on power-point for a club of interested individuals. I never realized what great stuff you could accomplish with that program.

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Lake of the Dahlias somewhere beyond

P1010079, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Here it is – over the hump. I pressed through this low slot and on to the passage beyond – an elliptical tunnel that wound off into gloom. Its hard to imagine but somewhere further on the helictites become so dense and interwoven that it is impossible to go onwards without damaging them. I did not get much further than this, but I was shown a map that indicated the most fantastic formations were isolated beneath a military zone. After my little private jaunt I saw a 3D movie that the curators were making of what was deep within – unbelievable!

One General Frederico F. Gavada wrote in 1870 in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine of his experience in the Cuevas de Bellamar saying that he eventually reached an underground lake, 18 feet deep and 180 feet long. He called it the “Lake of Dahlias” for the crystals that looked like petaled flowers.

As the general wrote …

“These dahlias are formed by triangular, concave crystals, starting from a common centre, in layers one above the other, precisely as the petals of dahlias are arranged. They vary from three to five inches in diameter. Their greatest beauty consists in the exquisite manner in which they are tinted with veins of violet and blue and delicate yellow and pale crimson. These colors are probably due to the presence of mineral salts which filter down with the water from the overlying strata.

Here, then, we have an enchanted lake in which the most fastidious of naiads would not refuse to dwell. A lake with its surrounding landscape of fantastic, sparry forms and its beds of wondrous flowers, and with its own sky bending above it full of sparkling constellations – a lake on which the sun has never shone, and whose smooth and silver surface the light wings of the breeze have never rippled, nor the rage of the tempest ever maddened into foam”.

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Cuevas de Bellamar

P1010076, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

Shortly after leaving the tourist section of the Cuevas de Bellamar there was this reddish hump in front – it was a rippled flowstone ramp, over which I wriggled and there in front was …..

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Nothing like Cuba – but more to come on that!


 

Just a little something from Ontario – The water is cold and the tunnels black. I had the experience a few years ago of dredging out a sumping tube somewhere near Hamilton – where the temperature on the surface was many degrees below zero and I had to submerge myself up to my neck in this horrendous muddle puddle to scramble away with my hads to try and loosen the boulder that was blocking our way. It took us more than one visit to the location to clear our route and even so – beyond that the tunnel did not go on that far – but what a rush when we broke through.

Caving in the tropics is much more spectacular than what we are used to up here, but still, in Ontario you need a special kind of dedication; it is a pursuit that sometimes leaves you wondering – What is wrong with me?

Here I am just feeling the atmosphere. The cave is not so big, but it leaves one with the hope of something else further up the stream. I am yet to investigate.

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