Weekend Escape: Crawling in the Printed Circuit Cave
If you are a lover of nature, clay, mud, water, darkness, or even geology, the Printed Circuit Cave in the Cockpit Country in Trelawny may be for you. The WEEKEND STAR team recently visited the cave, which has 10 entrances and exits and enough chambers to host a block party 20 times over. But to get to the cave, you must first walk 400 metres through the conical hills of the Cockpit Country, which was rather humbling for an urban gal like me.
We were led by senior tour guide Ainsworth Smith through a field that included fruit trees, cows, indigenous birds, mosquitoes, and crisp country air. There is a river (Mouth River), which seemed to follow us as we neared the cave. Smith was sure to brief us, prior to the trek, to leave all electronic devices at the dispatch location as the cave has water bodies, some of which are
Looking from the outside, we could not have predicted that the cave would be so extensive. There is a two-mile-long passageway of clay and limestone that seems to sandwich you as you go deeper inside. The first section we ventured to was 'Manners', and it did not take us long to figure out how it received the name.
Manners is a narrow passageway that requires you to be extremely careful as not to bump into someone else as you shift, bend and shimmy your way out. A rest section greeted us when we were finally able to stand tall, but it was short-lived as the following section, 'Gully Creeper', required us to literally get low and mimic the dance as to not bump our heads (secured by helmets) into stalactites. I eventually found myself on my hands and knees like a clay woman or a child playing in mud.
Caving, as they call it, is considerable exercise. You will be doing a lot of crawling, climbing and walking through clay and water. At one point, my photographer, Ian Allen, stopped and belted, "Mi buss." This thing is no joke, but that made us laugh. It got the bats excited, too, as they flapped above us.
I was in the cave for more than two hours, and after a while, I could swear it was nightfall.
When we arrived at the 'Middle Passage' section, Smith was like a history and geography teacher as he told us how our ancestors hid their children in caves as they fought for their freedom.
Most of the water bodies we encountered were knee-high, and if you're lucky, you will see some crayfish. The largest aquifer is indeed chest-high, and Smith wasted no time in taking a quick dip in the cold water. We made it to the 'Survival Alley', where things got really muddy and slippery as we crawled on our knees to make our way out.
The tour ends with a stop at the Meditation Room, where we were asked to close our eyes and reflect on the experience. Have you ever heard the saying 'the silence was deafening'? It was like that, except for the occasional sound of bats flying around.
We exited the cave, and, to my delight, there was sunlight and lots of chlorophyll. We dipped our muddy selves in the Mouth River before heading back to base. While this activity is not something I would do again, I recommend it to cave enthusiasts and high schools.
If you take the trip, in Smith's own words, "Don't take anything but photos, don't leave anything but footprints, and don't kill anything but time."
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Insect repellent, water/hiking shoes, hiking/disposable clothing, extra clothing.
Great escape from technology, educational experience.
A lot of physical activity and rough surfaces to manoeuvre.
The Printed Circuit Cave is situated in the heart of the Cockpit Country in the Rock Spring community of Trelawny. Tours are facilitated by Cockpit Country Adventure Tours, under the Southern Trelawny Environmental Agency.