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A cave in the middle of Garapan

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FROM the outside, the Sugar King Park Cave does not look like a cave — but it is, and up to three 13-seat vans can fit inside, cave explorer Fred Cabrera Camacho told Variety.

He said some parts of the cave were sealed, probably for safety, and to protect the site for archaeological purposes.

“This is a cave in a park, in the middle of Garapan that people have seen from the outside, but never thought much of,” said Camacho who has been involved in government-funded research on World War II remnants and natural caves.

In 2014, he worked with Dr. Julie Mushynsky in drawing up a preservation plan for the protection of WW-II related caves on Saipan. The research was funded by a grant from the Department of the Interior-National Park Service.

Camacho said he is now exploring sealed and hidden caves.

He said his interest in caves started when he was about 9 years old, adding that their family property in Talofofo had a cave.

Fred Cabrera Camacho points to the entrance to the Sugar King Park Cave. Photo by Bryan Manabat

Back then, he said, the cave was covered with vegetation, and like most of the other caves on Saipan, it had many World War II artifacts.

“My parents told us not to get inside the caves, saying that we might get sick,” Camacho recalled.

Eventually, he said, he ventured into the cave while following a cow that gave birth in it.

That was in 1985. “I never imagined that it was that huge,” he said referring to the cave.

Camacho is appealing to individuals who like to explore caves to be careful and respectful.

He said some caves had been “completely trashed.”

Camacho said in the Garapan area alone, there are more than 10 caves.

On Saipan, so far, he said, he has explored more than 100 caves already.

November 2020 pssnewsletter

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