An Early Adventure
My love for travel began when I was about 14 years old. It was the first time I traveled outside the US as my family and I journeyed south of the US border to Mexico to visit family members. I remember it was quite a big deal because my father had not returned home in nearly 20 years or so and everyone there was excited to meet us. We drove from North Carolina to Monterrey, Mexico which I remember feeling like a very long drive. It was, in fact, a very long drive and I remember the sense of adventure I felt as we made our way South. The most incredible feeling in the world came over me when we crossed the US/Mexico border. I believe it was this feeling that caused me to fall in love with travel. Even better, at that age I didn’t understand what it meant to be Mexican and I was about to find out!
When we arrived to the homes of our relatives in Mexico, it was all celebration and parties. We explored the city where my father had grown up and really got to know the family we always had but never met before. It was so much fun as we visited places such as La Macro Plaza, Apodaca, and local street markets in Monterrey, Mexico. The ability to explore and experience a foreign city was a very exciting prospect to me. It made me feel as though life didn’t have to be boring and scary as it was at home.
One day, my uncles and aunts decided we should visit this really amazing cave called La Cueva de Agapito Treviño (which is also officially known as La Cueva de la Boca or Cave of the Mouth). The cave is fairly high up and requires a decent hike. While most of the older adults stayed below making a discada (delicious stew of meat and veggies), the younger of the group decided to hike up and explore the cave (I was about 14 years old, by the way). The cave is huge. In fact, it’s never been fully explored and those who dare attempt to explore it fully tend to disappear. Located near a river called Rio de la Boca, the cave is also home to thousands upon thousands of bats which create a spectacular display as they fly out each evening to hunt at night. So, the cave is a pretty phenomenal natural wonder to explore.
A Local Legend
But it’s not only known for it’s natural beauty, it’s also the keystone in the legend of Agapito Treviño, a thief for whom the cave is colloquially named. This man, Agapito, was born around 1829 and by age 18 was a pretty well-known thief stealing from the rich. He was considered the Robin Hood of Monterrey during the time and had strange habits when it came to robbing people. He’d always ride a white horse and carry a harmonica. Once he’d robbed the individuals, he forced them to dance naked whilst he played a song on his harmonica, then he’d leave them tied up in the forest. Despite his strange sense of humor, he never killed a single person. On top of this, he’d always give half his loot to the poorest in the city and he’d hide the rest in this cave. At the age of 25, he was captured and executed, his final words being “Adiós Monterrey, adiós amigos, perdónenme si les hice daño” which translates to Goodbye Monterrey, goodbye friends, forgive me if I caused you harm. Legend has it his treasure is still buried somewhere in the cave and people have certainly tried to find it. In fact, as you explore, you have to be weary of giant holes dug by prize seekers hoping to discover the giant hoard of treasure.
A Brush With the Unknown
As I explored this gave with my cousin Panchin, we obviously kept this legend in our mind. The treasure is supposed to be cursed causing anyone who finds it to go mad. Others say the person who finds it cannot spend the money on themselves or else they will die. Not only that, the cave is also supposed to be haunted by the spirit of Agapito Treviño. With only the light from a video recorder, we walked further and further into the darkness. The thing about the darkness of the cave is it’s overwhelming. It felt as though the darkness was a huge heavy blanket covering our eyes and no matter how hard we tried, we could not see any further than the light from our camera would allow. It was pretty unnerving… when we suddenly began to hear a moaning as though a man was just off in the darkness waiting for us. We decided to keep walking and figure out what caused the sound.
But then our camera’s battery died. We stood there in the darkness not really being able to tell which way was the correct way to go towards the exit. As we stood there, I leaned against the wall of the cave and we tried to figure out what to do. Out of nowhere, a very cold swishing of air passed us as though a human or other creature was trying to get by. Terrified, we panicked, and began to run not knowing towards what we were running. I dropped the camera and the sudden jolt somehow caused it to come on again. The light from the camera illuminated a very large hole in the ground which we would have fallen into otherwise. It was such a close call. We stood their gaining our breath back when something crawled down the wall of the cave and grazed my cousins hand sending us into a running panic once again…this time shouting.
Our shouts disturbed the bats in the cave and they all began to fly about infesting the air and our hair. It was the craziest experience ever and we made it out thanks to the bats. As they flew we ran with their flow …and naturally the bats headed towards the cave opening. I’m not sure if there is a ghost inside that cave but it was one of craziest, spookiest experiences of my life. If you ask me, Agapito Treviño’s spirit is alive and well inside this cave where he guards his treasure. If you’re ever in Monterrey, I highly recommend you check out this bit of natural, local, history and lore. It’s one of the hidden gems of Monterrey and definitely worth exploring.
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