People try all sorts of things to reclaim their youth. Three rainy days indoors have found me reading too many ladies magazines and the ads for facelifts, age-defying creams, and body part firmers are no less offensive here than they are in the states. Men are no different than women in the search for eternal youth. Some men jump out of airplanes or buy a sports car on their fortieth and others date women 15 years their junior. Well, as Nelson already had the latter covered, rejuvination for his 41st came in the form of a caving trip to Waitomo.
We have both done a bit of caving before, and unlike many of the tourists who come to Waitomo we were not in search of an action-packed adrenaline boosting day of adventure (where you descend a well-lit ramp, follow a boardwalk guided tour through the caves, and participate in blackwater rafting with 50 of your not so dearest friends). We were looking for something a more initmate and mellow, and a bit less....um kitchy.
We came across Green Glow Eco Tours, a new company begun by Paul, a 25 year veteran caver tired of doing the touristy thing. He specializes in private tours that cater to the clients' individual needs in a private cave he leases. It was sweet.
We saw stalactites and mites, glow worms, wettas, and crystals. We did three rappels, the longest one about 100ft. Nelson graciously said "Dani, you can go first", which gave him a few minutes to collect himself for the descent.
It turns out Paul is not only an expert in spelunking, but knew tons about the natural history of the area. His endless knowledge of cave geology and biology kept Nelson enraptured, while his knowledge in cave photography helped produce these gorgeous gems. (He too fell in love with the G10).
All in all, it was an incredible day. Does Nelson feel that he has reclaimed some of his youth? "What are you talking about?" He replies. Youth is in the eye of the beholder and age is only a number. Like a stinky piece of cheese, he only seems to get better with age.
Our first rappell. 100 mts. If you look closely you can see Nelson in a red jacket about 1/3 of the way down. Abseiling inside a cave. Glow worm mucus. Yum. At the mouth of the cave. Tiny stalactites called "straws". So delicate, but each one takes about 100 years to grow an inch. A tight spot. Not posed, we actually crawled through there. Inside the cave under the glow worms.