Airdate: Apr 29, 2002
Scientist: Loiuse Hose (also Jim Pisarowicz)
Cueva De Villa Luz
Every Spring in Mexico's Cueva de Villa Luz, descendants of Zoque and Mayan Indians hold a rather remarkable ceremony.
Ceremony at a Sacred CaveHeres a program from our archives.ambience: Mayan music, ceremony of "Pesca dela Sardina", flute, drumWe're at the Cueva de Villa Luz - Cave of the Lighted Town, in the Southeastern Mexican state of Tabasco. Here, every Spring, as they have for centuries, descendants of Zoque and Mayan Indians hold a rather remarkable ceremony. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Hose: The cave has been known for probably millenium.Louise Hose is a professor of Geology at Westminster College, in Missouri. She's been part of a team studying the cave's unique ecosystem.Hose: The local people have used it as a sacred site. you noted that the stream is just teeming with these small fish. In the past whenever they were particularly hard up for food, they would go to the cave, ask permission from the gods who they believed lived in the cave, ask for permission to enter, and then they would go in and harvest the fish. Today the descendents do re-enact the ceremony every spring. The festival starts in the morning with people preparing a mixture of barbasco root and lime. They pound the root, and the purpose of this is that when this material is placed into any water, it tends to stun the fish. So the folks do some dancing and some prayers, then go into the cave with wicker baskets. They first put the barbasco and lime mixture into the water as the fish swim to the side gasping for oxygen. They take the wicker baskets and scoop up the fish and collect them.Further inside the cave, there are bats, spiders, and walls that drip sulphuric acid. We'll hear more about the Cueva de Villa Luz in future programs. Our thanks to Rick Perera and CNN for the sounds. This archival program is part of our thirtieth anniversary celebration. If you want hear more, check out our podcast. Im Jim Metzner and this is the Pulse of the Planet.