The power of the cave

My family watched Dr. Strangelove o the Fourth of July. It was a timecapsule of Cold War absurdity. The competitive stances between the Soviet Unions and America was highlighted as the story had them racing to find a way to save people from the detonation of a nuclear doomsday device

The only way to survive would be to hide in deep mine shafts for a hundred years or so.

The next day we all flew to New Mexico, where Chris and I visited once of the largest caves in the world : Carlsbad caverns.

We got the full experience of this natural wonder, arriving just before sunset to join with the other nature tourists in an ampitheatre of local stone to watch and wait for the moment

The moment when the first—then many thousands— of bats emerged from the cave to go eat.

They do not eat us, the ranger assured the children. THESE bats don’t eat blood.

The group was surprisingly quiet as the bats zoomed out of the cave in a fast fluttery black spiral.

When we returned the next day, that uncharacteristic quiet returned as we descended into the cave.

The mystery and majesty of these vast caverns inspired us to restrain our voices.

“There are a lot of kids here,” I said to Chris. “But I don’t here them making much noise. I don’t even hear babies crying.”

“Who would take a baby in a cave?” He asked.

“I don’t know, I’ve seen peopel take babies in all kinds of strange places. But you are right. I don’t see any babies being carried.”

“They would be stolen by goblins,” he smiled.

THe power of the babe.

I had been thinking of goblins and dwarves from stories this whole time. 

“We have to listen for drums” i replied.

But aside from fantasy legends, I wondered about caves.

What are caves used for? 

“What do you think would have happened if a cave like this had been discovered in Germany in 1200? Or China? Or Africa?”

I had just been told what happens in 1900 when this cave had been discovered. They drilled down to “mine” the guano from all the bats for fertilizer. 

And then it was turned tourist destination and the government put it under protection.

They made the smooth paths that I could walk down in the dark, with an elevator to get back up.

Would Germany have turned it into a fort?

I think the ancient Greeks would have turned it into a shrine to consult Oracles.

After we got out of the cave I asked the internet about it.

Carlsbad caverns is 9th of the top ten caves of the world. Number one is in Kentucky and was discovered in 1791.

THe next biggest cave is in Mexico—underwater! 

There is an enormous cave in Switzerland that was discovered in 1875.

It seems that big caves were mostly discovered after the 20th century. But from what I can tell, big caves are not practically useful.

We walked through the cavern, the water tracing through the caves for centuries and making their marks. 

The sun did not shine there. No algae grew in the small pools of water.

Gollum would not have found a fish in these pools No life can be here!

But how could I forget the bats? They live even deeper in this cave than I could get to.

There are many mysteries still in this world.

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