Hiking Turned Caving Expedition

I have had the great pleasure of becoming acquainted with a lovely family of Zimbabwean artists in Kalk Bay who sell small and large figurines out of wire and beads. They have been teaching me how to make the figurines as well as speak their native language of Shona. I’ve been working on a sheep, or hwai in Shona (pronounced “why”), and really enjoy using my hands while conversing with my new friends in Shon-glish. A few days a week after work I ride down to visit them at the space they have set up outside of Olympia Bakery. Venie, the entreprenuer who runs the business, recently had a beautiful wooden box made to easily transport and display his artwork. He will be starting up a workshop in his front yard to teach young children how to make the art.

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the “coffin” that will be used to display Venie’s artwork

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Abisha (left) and Eddie teaching me their skills

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Making a “hwai”

Venie recently invited me on a group hike up the mountain behind Kalk Bay. His children, Orion and Plades, excitedly told me about a cave which goes from one side of the mountain to the other. The name of the cave is Boomslang which is also the name of a venomous snake native to sub-Saharan Africa. The title rightly suits the cave as the entrance is 20 meters of narrow, claustrophobic winding and bending before it opens up into a large space. Eager to explore the mountain and cave, I invited a couple of friends I recently met and we convened with the group of varying ages outside Venie’s house on a Saturday morning.

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The view across False Bay on the way up

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A boardwalk took us through this native forest of milkwood trees and large boulders

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Orion striking a pose on top of the mountain

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Here we are in the “amphitheatre”

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Such great camaraderie

My two friends and I were prepared to explore the dark cave with a head torch for each of us and an extra hand torch. However, turns out the rest of the group was not planning on caving. With a couple of cell phone lights and the torches we brought along, the group decided to do it anyways. Our strategy: one light for every other person. After giggling our way through the snaking entrance on elbows and knees, we arrived in the middle of the cave where we could stand. There were many tunnels to explore as we all groped our way down one of the selected tunnels. Having to return to the crawling position, we helped each other along through the darkness. We soon realized, after a short debate, that we had returned to the initial opening. Our route had taken us for a loop! So we headed down another path, trying to stay together and not lose anyone in the maze of tunnels. As we headed deeper into the interior of the cave, we soon heard the squeaking sounds of bats. We hushed up and tip-toed through this section so as not to disturb the bats with our voices. We soon came upon the exit where we were blinded by the bright light flooding into the cave. We enjoyed the bird’s eye view of the coastal town of Fish Hoek before heading back into the cave.

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Little Oliver John and Plades about to enter the cave

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Exploring inside the cave

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Coming out the other side of the cave where we can see the town of Fish Hoek

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Looking down on Fish Hoek

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We all survived!

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