While the (OUR?) three Swiss companions were eating Pizza a la Lobster in Havana due to a late departure of our plane for Paris, the (WE?) two Italians had to spend the night near “Charles de Gaulle” airport. Fortunately, Esteban had already organized -a day in advance in Havana- to meet the Heads of Staff of the Natural Science Museum.The meeting took place without problems, and was highlighted by an interesting scientific discussion concerning the origins of the Mantazes underground cavern complex of and its concretions.During our trip to Matanzas, under a light tropical rain, Esteban’s motorcycle tire was punctured which hampered our movements for a brief time because a similar problem in Cuba is usually quickly resolved within an hour.We finally arrived in Matanzas and were warmly welcomed in the Bellamar Gardens. Promptly we found ourselves ready to follow-through on a well-organized series of scientific research programs with Esteban e Osmanny. We, as particularily enthusiastic scientists, gave immediate priority to discussing the parameters of the program and the research goals while our hosts graciously surprised us with an excellent Bucanero beer to lightly “lubricate” our welcome! On december 15th, we visited the Santa Catalina “Cueva” to better understand the origins of the famous characteristic “mushrooms” and the cavern itself. We had already- in an earlier visit- collected interesting information and formulated observations that in order to be confirmed and transformed into verifiable scientific theory would require further visits and analyses. Therefore, again today we are returning to Santa Catalina to visit the deeper, water-covered parts of the grotto.
15-19 Dec 2012
We spent the first two days in Matanzas to study Cueva de Santa Catalina and its famous mushrooms. There the concretions, geomorphological forms and structures discovered have been stimulated our discussions and thoughts. At the first analysis the mushrooms don’t seem to have a biogenic origin but they present some very interesting structures that probably could reveal much about the geological history of Santa Catalina and the area of Mantanzas. On December 17th we went in Cueva Shipwreck, where we had the opportunity to observe a similar cave to Cueva de Santa Catalina but Cueva Shirpwreck was flooded. This gave us the opportunity to understand how Santa Catalina had to be a a few hundred thousand years ago. It was also discovered a new part of the cave hitherto unknown and very promising. On december 18th we spent the day to sample the marine terraces around the Matanzas to date them. We also visited the "sponge tunnel" in cueva Bellamar. Here many things could be much studied.
Maybe this will be another story. Now off to new question marks in the "Cueva Perdida" and "Cueva Garibaldi".
Invigorated by a tasty dinner with lobster and also by a good rest unfortunately interrupted by the singing of the roosters chain Cubans, on the 19th of December we continued to work for the sampling of marine terraces in the area of Cueva de Santa Catalina. From the lower terraces near the sea, where there are many fossils of coral and marine gastropods, up to the highest terraces, by now immersed in the cuban dense forest. After a quick lunch in Cueva Saturno we looked for the Cueva Perdida, and it was lost. So in the Cueva de Agua, and bath in the lake where it was installed a pumping system. Some nice pictures to majestic fig of the entrance and to the honeycomb of bees buzzing around us. "Dulcis in mushroom", after a change of cuban caving guide (Dr. Ortega), way towards the Cueva Garibaldi.We reached the Hall of underwater formations in few minutes, not before that we met the" guardian "of bats, a beautiful boa (or was it a python?). Really a unforgettable event. It was arrived already the last day of expedition.We still had a job to help our cuban friends: locate a possible artificial entrance of Cueva Jarrito using “ARVA”. "Tomase", "Ilenie" and "Joe” entered in the cave with "Estebanne"; out of the cave , with the other “ARVA”, there were "Osmanne", "Hile", "Nicole" and "Stefanoe." What effort to get to only three hundred meters from the entrance, but what reward to admire the many white crystalline landscapes "Blanca Victoria". The floor of the big hall, that is a likely future access to the cave, is located about 30 meters from the surface, so the ARVA told us. Now we should do a small survey in the identified point and hope to hit the underground environment.The work is done, at the same time our cuban friends are happy (both for his achievements but perhaps also because they finally get rid of us!), but also they are a bit sad. And a bit we too are. We back home to celebrate Christmas, below freezing.