The Prehistoric Picture Gallery
According to experts, the caves of El Pomier are to the West Indies what the pyramids of Egypt are to the Middle East. They contain some of the region's greatest treasures, which, unlike the crypts, are accessible to the insatiably curious 21st century public. The Parque Nacional Cuevas de Bourb?n o de El Pomier consists of a network of some 54 caves. Inside these caves thousands of pictographs (pictures or symbols representing words, groups of words or certain values) and hundreds of petroglyphs (drawings or carvings on rock) of humans, animals and various strange monsters tell the story of the lives of their authors and artists: the Taino Indians. Although most of the pictures have yet to be officially dated, many are thought to be over 1,000 years-old. The caves themselves, meanwhile, were never lived in by the Taino, serving instead as holy grounds where various ceremonies and rituals took place.
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Domingo Abreu has been exploring the caves of El Pomier since 1974, and one of his tours is as adventurous as it is educational. The network of caves in the national park is vast and deep, and exactly how much you see will depend to a large extent on your previous caving experience. For you should not make the mistake of thinking that caving with Domingo is simply a question of ogling at prehistoric art. In true Indiana Jones-fashion, the real adventure lies in getting to these treasures. Sometimes this will require climbing by flashlight on slippery rock; on other occasions, the drop from one ledge to another is sheer enough for a descent by rope. Pictographs, drawings and carvings can be seen at each level and all over this underground world, which men have dedicated their lives to exploring just as the Taino had dedicated theirs to creating it in the first place.