In my last years of primary
school I hooked up with a quite diminuative, asthmatic guy who played winger
in our "Red Ants" rugby team. He always got pummelled when he got the ball
but he always got up and did it again. I eventually asked him what he did
with his spare time on Sundays and he said "Oh, I go caving and stuff".
This really impressed me - it seemed so exotic and exciting and, basically,
everything that my life wasn't. In fact, he'd been doing it since he was
about 7 because his father was a rabid spellunkeller (I think that's how
you spell it) and wanted to get his only son involved early. We lost touch
a few years later but I'm sure he's still down some dank hole in the ground
somewhere. Since that time I've been inside a couple of caves but purely
of the touristic variety - short walks along well beaten tracks to spot
lit bits of dripping thingys and back again. Although the "Black Water
Rafting" (the 'rafts' were only large inner tubes!!) on the NZ trip was
still a bit touristic, it was most probably as close as I've ever gotten
to my long lost friend's experiences : small holes or apertures, limestone
hanging everywhere, cold, cold water rushing past your feet in torrents
and a miasma of glow worms above and beyond - all 60 metres below ground.
It really was a great experience and, heavens to betsy, one that I may
do again sometime!! The whole trip was a bit like that, really - just wait
till ya see the pics of me on a quad bike transported to 4 stroke heaven.