Last updateFri, 19 Aug 2016 9am

Battling the hurdles of the ‘Killer Cave’ while discovering the charms of Santa Clara del Cobre

Somehow the word reached the small community of cave explorers here in Jalisco: There’s an archaeologist in Santa Clara del Cobre, Michoacán trying to figure out how to accurately map a cave, and she needs help.

The archaeologist turned out to be Cinthia Campos, who is both Mexican and American and has a particular interest in how and why past civilizations used caves. 

“Come see my cave,” she wrote, “and you can stay at El Gran Escape, it’s a beautiful place with cabins and great meal service.”

As Santa Clara del Cobre is in the narco-infested state of Michoacán, of course questions of safety immediately came to mind.

“Santa Clara is near Pátzcuaro and Pátzcuaro is near Morelia, and these three towns are as safe as any around Guadalajara,” Campos assured me. “ Don’t worry, you’ll be fine.”

All this sounded great and I was all set to go with geologist (and excellent cave surveyor) Chris Lloyd, when out of nowhere I got a very bad case of the runs. So I ended up staying at home while Chris and Luis Rojas went to map the cave.

Three days later, they were back. 

“That cave was a killer,” Rojas told me the following day. “We would have had to rope you in to get you through certain parts of it. It was duro and feo, but, of course there were those incredible petroglyphs I found exactly in the most inaccessible part of it. ..”

The “hard and ugly” cave sounded more interesting by the minute, so I called Lloyd.

“We surveyed 100 meters of it,” he told me, “but instead of taking a few hours, as I had expected, it took two days.”

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