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    Is This the Isthmus? Tour – Guatemala Part 18

    Monday, September 18, 2017
    Cuevas de Actún Kan, Flores, Guatemala

    The entrance to Cuevas de Actún Kan near Flores, Guatemala.
    The entrance to Cuevas de Actún Kan near Flores, Guatemala.

    After an episode of diarrhea, dehydration and fatigue yesterday, I was feeling considerably better this afternoon. So, I jumped on a tuk-tuk for a ride maybe a mile south of Flores island to a cave called Cuevas de Actún Kan. After paying the $5.00 entry fee, a teenaged guide slapped a red helmet with a bright headlamp on my skull and we moseyed on down inside. Although the temperature was noticeably a few degrees cooler, it was still quite muggy in there. In total, we spent around 30 minutes poking around inside the dank, muddy chambers.

    Inside the entrance to Cuevas de Actún Kan near Flores, Guatemala.
    Inside the entrance to Cuevas de Actún Kan near Flores, Guatemala.

    Occasionally, the guide read aloud from a name sign posted at each stalactite or stalagmite that was shaped like something. That was the only time he offered up any info regarding what we were looking at. A few times, I saw an old, busted light post with no bulbs laying on the ground. Apparently, the place used to be lit up, but even then, I’m sure it was not much compared to Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico or Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. Both of those places are like magnificent subterranean cathedrals lit up all purty with colored lights, whereas Cuevas de Actún Kan is more like a small, local cave you’d explore with a friend.

    Stalactites in Cuevas de Actún Kan near Flores, Guatemala.
    Stalactites in Cuevas de Actún Kan near Flores, Guatemala.

    The Virgin of the Grotto in Cuevas de Actún Kan near Flores, Guatemala.
    The Virgin of the Grotto in Cuevas de Actún Kan near Flores, Guatemala.

    “The Cuevas de Actún Kan are a network of caves located in Santa Elena de La Cruz, Flores, Petén, Guatemala. Located very close to the island of Flores, the Cuevas de Actún Kan hold a mystical-religious importance for the Maya, who during certain times of the year, visit to perform rites or celebrations.

    A smeared ceiling in Cuevas de Actún Kan near Flores, Guatemala.
    A smeared ceiling in Cuevas de Actún Kan near Flores, Guatemala.

    “According to the oral tradition of the Peteneros, the caves used to be submerged in the bottom of Lago Petén Itzá, but then the waters receded and the caves were exposed. In the Mayan language, the name Actún Kan means “Serpent Rock” or “Snake Cave.” This does not, however, mean that snakes are actually found inside the caves, but rather that the caves coincidentally formed in the shape of a snake. Within the caves, you can walk almost one kilometer on authorized trails, although the trails in total are actually 2.5 kilometers long.

    An elephant trunk in Cuevas de Actún Kan near Flores, Guatemala.
    An elephant trunk in Cuevas de Actún Kan near Flores, Guatemala.

    “Hundreds of bats can be seen hanging between the stalactites and stalagmites of the caves. Stalactites, found on the ceilings, are formed by water that seeps in from the ground above. The same water drops from the stalactite down to the bottom of the cave to form stalagmites. In time, the stalactites and stalagmites grow and join together to form a column. The greatest attraction of the caves are the stalactites and stalagmites baptized with curious names of the forms they represent, such as “The Elephant’s Paw,” “The Virgin of the Grotto” and “The God of Rain,” among many others.”–Wikipedia

    Go spelunking with me in Cuevas de Actún Kan near Flores, Guatemala.
    Go spelunking with me in Cuevas de Actún Kan near Flores, Guatemala.

    Words and photos ©2017 Arcane Candy.

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