Rotorua, New Zealand.

Halfway there?!? I know that I was quite ready for the helicopters to sweep in and take me away to a warm bed and a nice, muscle-kneeding Swedish massage. But, no go. We still had ground to cover.

Our guide warned us that the rocks we were seeing were starting to get very sharp and that it would be much better for us to “stay low, rather than high” (meaning, if we had a choice, we should take a lower pathway rather than a higher one) because, if we fell, it would be much more pleasant to recover from a short fall than one from higher up. Hmm. Too true. He also warned us about the water eels that lived in the black, muddy water of the cave. He said not to open our hands in the water and when we swam, we should keep our fists closed. He made a small chomping motion with his hands and said that the eels might try to chew on our fingers…they didn’t say anything about that in the brochure! Imagine swimming with your hands clenched in fists….it’s quite hard to get a good doggy-paddle going. The first time we actually submerged our bodies in the water it was like something I have never experienced before; the water was freezing and the coldness seized my upper chest and seemed to grip the edges of my collar bones. It was like ice and heat at the same time. But, when we finally saw the light of “at the end of the tunnel” (ha ha) I was both relieved and proud that I had gone through the experience. It was uncomfortable, and scary (the climb down into the cave was a bit freaky), and strenuous, but at the same time a great accomplishment! As we headed to the big metal shed where our clothes were stored (with hot showers awaiting us), I felt tired and exposed (oh, Casey mentioned our wetsuits but he didn’t mention the very skin-tight reality of wearing one! That in itself was pretty trying) but happy to see the early evening sunlight and feel the beautiful New Zealand breeze on my face. And I also felt that there was one more thing in this world that I had been afraid to do, but did it anyway (driving on the left is another recent one).

Now, if only I could learn to love the sight of spiders in my bed, I would be truly evolved, huh?