La Cuevas de Mana known colloquially as La Cuevas de Bibiana de la Rosa, la india, are an ancestral site located in San Cristobal, Republica Dominicana.
This fundraiser will help us build the infrastructure necessary to make the cuevas (caves) a destination for those seeking to connect with their Taino heritage.
The road: There is a road to the cave, but it requires a 4x4. We were not in a 4x4. You can also get there via moped, but my guides didn't think a moped would be safe on such a dangerous road. So we walked. And walked.
The road winds, and pivots and inclines 70 degrees at times. I stopped multiple times on the road because I thought I would die. This is because the walk up took about two hours. One way to overcome this is to have local farmers drive visitors up to the cave in their 4x4 trucks. The extra income will allow them to subsidize their income, and improve their living conditions.
Cost- $500, we need to create advertisements, and posters to advertise, and direct visitors.
The rest area: Community leaders want to create a rest center at the entrance of the cave. After walking up this is what I wished had been there! Ney, the great gradson of Bibiana has been talking to neighbors and there is a desire to build:
- A food shack to sell sandwiches, water, ice cream and other local food items.
- Clearing the rest area and creating parking spot markers.
- Building a latrine.
Cost- $400, Ney and the group wish to reclaim local wood to build rustic structures. Most of this funding goes to pay the locals for their labor.
Ney and I during our first meeting.
More about the cave:
When Bibiana practiced in this cave she, like Papa Liborio, leaned on her indigenous knowledge to cure those that came looking for her. She also incorporated prayers, and catholicism. But the cave has been completely covered in fanaticism. There are altars used by several practicioners an one has built a home at the entrance of the cave to shorten his pilgrimage.
Key to her practice was water which poured from "el ojo del indio" a natural water source in one of the inner chambers. This small water source has dried out after years of abuse, I found it covered by candle wax and offerings. The water is no longer able to freely flow. Bibiana slept in this cave, and even the nook she slept in has been covered in paintings of crosses and murals of saints.
Deep in the cave system there is a smaller cave called "salon de las media noche" because of how dark it is in there. While there Ney showed us the inner cave that his father would practice in and recalled spending days watching his elders heal. He also remembered how the river, Nizao, could be sensed through a crack in the wall. Since the dam was built that has stopped happening.Me in the spot that Bibiana practiced in.
The money raised via this account will support the work at all stages! Ney and members of the community began working the last week of August 2021. We want to pay them fair wages. That will be the first expense for this campaign!
Our goals is huge: restore the cave! To do this we need to:
Clean out the cave of all altars and trash, September 2021
Destroy illegal structures in and outside the cave, October 2021
Bring in a restoration crew to clean the cave of paint, murals and wax. November 2021