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Dwellers of Caves

January 19, 2011

Waitomo Caves

This was rated as one of the Top 20 existing natural wonders on our big blue planet by National Geographic.  It was not something we were going to miss.  And good thing we didn’t.

The cave tours are outstanding. ($120 pp)  They are known for being the home of the glow worm.  Here is a picture of them hanging from the cave ceiling.

Glow worms hang from deep ceilings.  They glow bright, so that when insects are born in the water below, they fly towards the light and are trapped in the glow worms line and eaten.

We all grabbed an inner tube and down the long dark cave we slowly creeped.  (Our inner tubes, used for flotation were made by the Ford Company, and this did not make me feel any safer)

I think I was bloated from all my previous towns sulfur intake, because my wet suit was chafing my nipples. I have two of them.   And both were uncomfortable, so forgive me for my wanna-be Italian gangster look inthe picture above…the chest hair was merely a by-product of rib cage crushing.  All I needed was a gold chain and I could have been selling linguini with marinara 300 feet deep in these dark caves.

I digress.

Rodney, our tour guide asked us to tell him where we were from and what our favorite ice cream was.  I believe the reason for this interrogation was too distract us from the fact that the walls were closing in on those that had claustrophobic tendencies.  Nikki responded “my favorite ice cream is all of them”, Rodney said his favorite ice cream was “the free kind”, with my chest heaving in my kid size small wet suit, I responded “my favorite ice cream is beer…can we start this tour Rodney, my nips are raw.”

We descended.  Deeper and deeper.  There was a small, tight corridor that Rodney told us to go down and explore.  On hands and knees, with less than 3 feet of clearance, we crawled thru about 1 foot of water.  I don’t know about you, but what kind of Tour Guide are we missing here?  The guide is supposed to guide us, right?  Alone and thru the dark tunnel we scampered.  What is at the end of the tunnel, you ask? I cannot tell you because every single one of us turned back in pure-black fear.

The glow worms were amazing.  They looked like stars in the sky.  Or thousands of fiber optic lights on the ceiling of a quiet club.   Into the cold water we crept, and floated on our tubes facing up towards the only light in the cavernous black.  Rodney spoke quietly of the original cave explorers who had mapped these areas, some who didn’t make it.  The glow worms followed us on our cold, slow water ride along the stone.  Nikki and I held each other tight.  Silence.

Then there was this huge EXPLOSION!

Rodney had lit a firecracker and there were many soiled wetsuits.  What the hell, Rodney?  He told us that years ago, this particular cave had fallen in on the explorers and they had perished in this exact spot.  But rest assured, he stated “that was many years ago.”  So I said, “Rodney, your damn fireworks are not going to help in our goal of no future avalanches of rocks.”

He told this stupid American tourist to look up.  I did.  And the glow worms had doubled in brightness.  They glow less when light hits them, but brighter when they are more hungry or when loud noises occur. (like fireworks and screaming wet suited fear mongers)

Down rock chutes we would slide.  Off small cliffs we would jump.  The only path to follow would be lit by the glow worms.  The tour was something amazing to experience and I hope someday you can.


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