Calcehtok Grutas in Yucatan Family, Adventure, Extreme Caves

"Aventura Group"

“Aventura Group”

Ok, when we were invited by our friends to visit some caves in the area, we had no idea what we were in for! How big could caves in Mexico be? How can there be caves in the Yucatan which is flat? Calcehtok Grutas are about an hour and a half drive from Progreso and have over 4 km of explored caves with many more to yet be explored. Upon arrival we all got ready, had some quick sandwiches put on our backpacks and runners and went to pay.  Ok this was ok, now we had to divide our group into pieces as there are three types of tours available here: familiar (family); aventura (adventurous); and extrema (yup, extreme). So we split up and the people in the familiar group paid 50 pesos per person while those in the aventura group each paid 80 pesos. The family trip was about a 90 minute tour, the aventure 2 hours, and the extreme I believe they said 6 hours…

So far so good, lets go! Wait a minute they say, the big guy with the backpack can’t go in like that, he needs to leave the backpack behind… Well “why is that?” asks the big guy… you won’t fit in the cave with a back pack on, nobody can go through the “aventura” caves with a back pack.  Ok, warning bells should have been going off at this time about how much space would be available in the cave…nope… off goes the back pack and off on the great adventure everybody goes.

We all start off the tour into the caves at the same spot, nicely built ladder securely fastened to the rock descending into the pit. We quickly help everyone down the ladder and off we go…

"Familiar" Group

“Familiar” Group

HOLY S#%^(!  Ok, if you are 6 feet tall and “slightly” over 220 pounds you should stop at this point and join the family group who are going to enjoy a casual stroll through the caves, sipping water casually as they observe some pretty cool rock formations and quartz. But wait, nobody really tells you what is in store for you so off you go blindly leading the fearless leader into the abyss. We had some amazing kids with us today who all did an exceptional job conquering any fears they had, and any fears they may have seen the big guy exhibit! The youngest with us on the aventura tour was Noah at 8 years old, and he was a trooper – climbing ropes, sliding down slippery, muddy slopes, army crawling through tight little spaces… Wait! back up a minute – army crawling – oh yes, it felt like I crawled on my elbows dragging my legs behind me for miles. Well why on earth would you crawl like that you might ask.. well I believe space in the cave in quite a few places was limited in space to where my stomach was on the ground and my butt was touching the roof of the cave at the same time. No, my stomach is not that big and neither is my butt! but at times there was less space than that as you pulled yourself through twisting around rocks in your way, squishing and contorting your body in awful ways.

"K2" otherwise known as Kalen getting ready for the next tight spot...

“K2” otherwise known as Kalen getting ready for the next tight spot…

But I digress a little, next in age we had Evan and Alex at 10 years of old, and they are quite skinny and loved sliding and crawling through the mud. These two were fearless and often came back to check on me and then raced off ahead to the leader. Evan would love to do more of these and just wanted to make sure I would take him again next week! Evan especially loved the ending where we where halfway up the cave, and then we had to climb up to the top by rope, all in order to get more speed while sliding down the muddy slope to the bottom. Holy crap! bouncing on your butt in the dark towards rocks that you are hoping to use to steer with your feet as you hit them was not my idea of fun!

Then was our new friend K2, he is 13 years old and while he was quite skeptical about the entire process he pulled through and made it to the end… He started out doing a video blog, little details like:

  • “I smell bat poo”;
  • “yup definitely bat poo”;
  • “here we are going a little deeper into the cave”;
  • “just looking around at lots of rocks”; then it started to be
  • “not sure I will make it to my next video blog”;
  • “can’t believe I made it this far, please get me out of this hell”; t
  • hen his last video blog of the day “pretty sure this is my last ever video blog, please give my phone to my mom”.

Well, little man, you made it and did a fantastic job persevering; even when the big guy wanted the “FASTEST EASIEST WAY OUT NOW PLEASE!” you still wanted to continue and finish. Great job K2!

Ok, then the jokesters, Edgar and Francisco… Edgar is a little bigger than Evan and Francisico is somewhere in between Edgar and myself. Edgar just giggled the entire way through the caves, not only at me but at everyone. Of course he thought it was pretty funny when he looked around and saw that our guide in his pink shirt was still clean and we were all covered in mud. I am still not sure how our guide stayed so clean! Edgar was a big help as the water bottle I was carrying on my back in a nylon bag for everyone to share, would have prevented me from getting through several spots. I would have been stuck because of a water bottle.

"Aventura" group after

“Aventura” group after

Ok, then at the end of the train was me, occasionally pushing on feet ahead of me to help them through “tight spots”. I had my head lamp on, and I also had a backwards head lamp flashing red in case somebody needed to find me after I smashed my head on a rock on the 18″ ceiling. Gotta say it, probably the most scared I have ever been in my life. I knew that turning around was not an option and had to proceed…how stupid is that! Well, after some very tight spots where I was asked if I could make it and had to move the car keys from my pocket and put the camera in a different pocket so that my butt could somehow squeeze through I made it. When you are army crawling but then have to somehow reach one arm over your head and turn on your side and squirm and wiggle and pull yourself with the one arm because the other arm has already gone numb and you are slipping backwards because it is so muddy but have to pull your self to the open space… “open space” my ass! they would trick me into getting into the next “cavern” by saying there was lots of room but when I arrived it was always to a spot filled with 7 other people and I could barely breathe let alone sit up before crawling to the next “cavern”.

If I was a more descriptive writer I might add in words like: wet, muddy, slippery, edge of abyss, watch the crevice, unexplored tunnels, musty, stank, guana, quartz, “cuidado” – careful, beautiful, Medussa, etc… OH yeah, and “picth black” got a hole new meaning for all of us.

I have to say, I was glad I did it with my boys and hope they remember their old man crawling through a cave when they are older. It may be the last cave I wander into but it was a good day – mainly I can say that because I am not still lying in the mud trapped in the caves wondering what the headlines in Canada would say: “Fat Bastard trapped in cave in the Yucatan, oh and he was Canadian, eh!”

Ok so other thoughts that ran through my head while bringing up the rear end of this train…

  • What else is living down here…
  • Will something grab my foot…
  • Why am I in the last spot…
  • What is chasing the flashing red light on the back of my head..
  • Pretty sure they have a movie about this kind of stuff and it ain’t pretty…
  • Would I cut off my leg to get out…
  • If I just faint, will I wake up outside with the trees!

Yes, those were just some of the highlights popping through my mind as I lay there on my stomach with my cheek in the mud and my butt touching the ceiling, just trying to breathe. And they want to know if we will do it all again next week!


6 Responses to “Calcehtok Grutas in Yucatan Family, Adventure, Extreme Caves”

  1. mom says:

    I’d like to say idiot but don’t suppose that’s a publishable comment! Glad you made it out. Hope you’ve learned your lesson. I’m hyperventilating just reading about the tight spaces. Mom
    P.S. I wonder if you were adopted?

  2. Dawn says:

    WOW, is all I can say. What an adventure!!

  3. Robin says:

    Hey, truly an adventure! Glad it was you and not me. I would have given up and died in the ‘ cave’.
    Funny the way you describe it.
    I would hire someone else to take the boys next time.
    Glen and Ben have done some caving like this here and in South Dakota.

  4. Jenn says:

    Holy cow!! Talk about an adventure. That seemed totally cool. There is no way I would have done it. Thank you for sharing your adventure and photos.

  5. Laurie says:

    Okay, you’ve convinced us to see the caves, but we’ll take the familia route!

    • Kurt says:

      Haha! don’t be shy! everyone really loved it… mostly! just a few tight spots. They are trying to convince me I need to go on the extrema tour next – which would be a fabulous 4-5 hours of crawling around to see some amazing things including I believe an ancient Mayan cemetery. Seriously, if you are a little bit athletic and don’t mind tight muddy dark spaces, you will love it. Definitely something you will remember! Just make sure the guide is a little bigger than you and you will have no problem.

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