A trip back in time

ROTA — You cannot miss this green-painted structure perched on two huge latte stone posts overlooking the blue ocean across from the road when you drive to or from Songsong here on Rota.

Photos by Raquel C. BagnolThe CNMI is littered with relics and memorabilia from  World War II, and a huge collection is found at the Marianas Trench Cave Museum.

I stopped by one noontime to check out this museum last month. Panting while climbing the long and slippery flight of cemented stairs up, I was met by a cheerful woman who introduced herself as Mercedes Taisacan.

Taisacan said she and her husband Matias, a member of the National Chamorro Association of the Mariana Islands, own and maintain the museum and the Chamuro Ancestral Park.

A huge poster of a Chamorro warrior behind a traditional canoe sculpted by Matias dominated the porch area as well as several artillery pieces and other artifacts.

Formerly named Rota Cave Museum, it is now known as the Marianas Trench Cave Museum.

Fishing through her pockets for a set of keys, Taisacan opened two huge wooden doors and revealed a gaping natural limestone cave. I had no idea it was there.

Twisting open the padlocks, I was brought back to the past, into a whole new world filled with artifacts and precious antiques. Rusty guns and rifles of various calibers were hanging from the right side of the wall near the entrance immediately caught my attention.

Awed by the huge collection, I slowly inspected everything: from an ancient Chamorro grinder, cracked and broken pottery shards, kitchen utensils such as pots, pans, plates, water pitchers and canteens, earthen jars and vessels, Japanese porcelain plates dating to the 1930s, pre-war assorted Japanese bottles, farming tools, a set of Chinese porcelain human bowls dating back to the 1800s displayed inside a glass shelf is another attraction and more.

A rotary telephone, a huge battered typewriter and rusty cash register sat at the center of the cave.

Taisacan said her husband hacked his way through the thick jungle to acquire most of the artifacts while the other items were donated by friends and community members.

The few minutes I spent inside that cave gave me a wonderful trip back in time, and I could just imagine the people who used those things as thought they were right inside the dimly lit cave.

The Marianas Trench Cave Museum, located across from the Chamoru Ancestral Park also operated by the Taisacans, is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. Entrance fee is $5 for adults.

Taisacan said they also accommodate field trips to the museum, and facilitate nature hikes on spectacular trails only Rota can offer.

For more information  call 532-0078 or check out the Facebook page of the Marianas Trench Cave Museum.


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