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Into The Darkness

My Travel Writing Scholarship 2011 entry - My Big Adventure

INDONESIA | Friday, 25 March 2011 | Views [444] | Scholarship Entry

Reddish shafts of sunlight in the western horizon started to fade away, as the first star next to a pale crescent moon gleamed in the eastern dark blue sky. A gust of dry breeze rustled teak leaves, and invisible crickets squeaked in chorus. The chilly darkness slowly crept from a fifteen-meter elliptical diameter black hole underneath us.

A high-pitched crooked sound of muezzin called for the fourth prayer of the day was vaguely heard from nearby village. This would have been one of many dusk prayers I’d skipped, but somehow I felt it was the closest I stand before my maker, as I kneeled and tied the parched rope into a safety knot in my simple capstand – a cave descending gear. Clink clung my carabiner into the anchor’s loop and set my chest-ascender onto the rope, I sneaked a glance into the creepy hole. The darkness depth, black as death, was just so unbearable.

Shivering, I repeatedly checking my three safety devices while my mind busily counted seconds I had left on the surface. “You can count on them, you know,” I heard one of my friends said, as if he can read my mind. I shrugged and managed a smile, though I wasn’t sure it was a smile.

I forced myself to crawl on the pit’s grassy rim. Then, muttering silent prayers with eyes wide shut, I reluctantly hurled myself embracing the death trap. The 300 feet depth of Grubug, a vertical cave crafted in the middle of limestone area in Wonosari, Jogjakarta, Indonesia, engulfed me.

Time seemed to stop to a standstill as the gravity pulled me down and I abruptly jerked up, dangling freely amidst the dark open air. A familiar unknown surge of sensation spurted within me: it made my heart pounds its fastest beat, blood runs its quickest stream, swelling through the spine and the armpit into the brain, and eventually sent sweat out to my pores. Fear has conquered all my senses.

Hands trembled and palms soggy, I stepped on my webbing foot-loop and pulled myself up to un-clutch my carabiner and chest-ascender. Again, I mumbled an endless prayer as I untied the safety knot and pulled up the static rope tautly stretched between my legs.

I slithered down slowly, carefully avoiding my helmet’s carbide-fueled fire to burn the sole life supporter I hung onto, and going deeper into what seemed a damp bottomless nothingness.

But then, as my pupils adjusted to the muted giant chamber, a gradation of black shadows came to life: a glimpse of faintly figure of stalactites hanging on the cave roof and lines of coarse karst wall shaping the enormous dome.

The sound of the upper world was gradually gone, and quietude consumed me.

Then it suddenly occurred to me. Acintyaçunyata: quiet and dark, eternally. This was the nature of the underworld I was caving in, and nothing I could do to change it.

And I just couldn’t decide, whether I ever used to this particular world or not.

Tags: #2011writing, adventure, cave, caving, grubug, indonesia, muezzin, travel writing scholarship 2011

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