Wet and clammy. Wet and clammy. Wet and clammy. Yuck. Yuck. Yuck. Struggling to pull on a used wet suit is no fun. You squirm like a jellyfish to squeeze one tentacle and then another into a tight, slimy banana peel thingy. Once on you look like an Oompah Loompah, not flattering at all. On the positive side everyone else wearing one looks like a Willy Wonka character too, plus it’ll keep you from freezing to death in cold water. Like a dog’s cone of shame, it’s not all about the looks.
Why are Kevin and putting on these spiffy suits and walking about with a squish, squish you ask? Because of a compromise. It started with wanting to see glow worms. Who wouldn’t? There were three choices to see glowworms, all of which involve caves. Thing about caves is they are dark, enclosed and underground. You’d think a person who could lean off of tall buildings would have no problem with putting her feet on the earth, I don’t. It’s going under that earth that makes me a tad anxious.
Kevin is a different species. If he spies a cave while he’s out walking, he’s got to explore it. He doesn’t even need a flashlight to start crawling about and checking out all the scary hidden passages and crevices. I’ll just briefly stick my head in and say, “Ah, um, yeah that’s cool” and then quickly back pedal out into the daylight.
So, the first choice is a family friendly 45 minute boat ride through a glowworm cave. Sounds commercialized enough. I could handle that. The next choice would probably put Kevin in heaven. It’s the ultimate 5 hour underground adventure involving ziplines and scaling underground waterfalls. It promises “to test you limits”. It would test their search and rescue system as I went into panic mode as they tried to get me “to descend into the black, seemingly bottomless depths.”
Which brings us to the compromise, a little wow for Kevin and a little “oh my ….” from Joy. A three hour underground river tubing ride. And you know what? After the initial wobbly legs at the beginning when they told us to jump into the water and head for the small crevice between the rocks, I had a great time. Kevin of course was all smiles.
All the light we had was from our helmets, so it was dark. What made it not so scary was the glowworms. They lit up the cave like stars. It felt like we were tubing at night underneath the open sky, just watch out for the rocks and keep away from the whirlpool called “the human blender”.
New Zealand’s glowworms are larvae with bioluminescent tails that they use to attract insects. Their prey gets stuck in the sticky feeding lines that they shoot down from the cave ceiling. Really isn’t reality more fascinating than science fiction? It’s hard to make out the millions of clear lines. Like the unsuspecting bugs, all we see are the pretty lights, “oooh!”
Besides being distracted by the glowworms, holding onto an inner tube as you climb over rocks, back splash over a waterfall, and paddle through rapids helps to keep the mind from thinking about miners stuck in collapsed tunnels. When finally the end of the tunnel was in sight, I was still breathing and able to grin back at Kevin’s excited eyes.