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Ben's Cave

Our kayak and nature trail guide, as it turns out, is somewhat of a legend in Freeport. He has taught diving for several decades, and discovered a huge flooded underground cave in the 1960's that was ideal for teaching scuba. Eventually this cave, now officially named after him, became the largest explored underwater cave complex in the world (though it has now been superceded by even larger caves on the Mexican Yucatan).

Trails, stairs, and (blessedly) a bathroom have been constructed on the site, which is a designated national park. We entered two of the cave areas, visited a colony of bats, and learned about a rare swimming centipede that has never been found outside of these caves. The centipede has single-handedly... uh, hundred leggedly halted most scuba diving in the caves now, as it only thrives in oxygen-poor environments and diver bubbles were decimating this endangered species' population. Special rebreather diving equipment, and a lot of permits, are required to dive now.

In one of the caves, about 10 Indian graves were discovered, excavated, studied and eventually returned to their original resting place. They appear to be about 1000 years old.

One young lady climbed into the water and pronounced it "f-f-f-freezing", despite the hot weather. The rest of us took her word for it - with hundreds of bats hanging above the water, that wasn't soap suds floating around her.


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