Walk around the mountain.
Up and meeting Lillian and Giovanni to go Spelunking. I am looking forward to this, but Anna is not so sure. We met our new friends at the main square and drove down to the Devils Throat cave. We are not doing this today, but planning on doing another cave where there may be a bit more excitement. While we were hanging around we tried to glean some more information on the planned cave. There was not much more info to be had, other than the price. It was a little more than what we expected, at 30 Lev, it would be one of the most expensive things we have done in the country. Still we were willing to give it a try. The guy running the expedition turned up, and gave us some proper information. Anna decided not to do it, but I was still interested. There would be rock climbing and abseiling.
After a hike up the hill, we got a glimpse of the cave we would be entering. Apparently the whole trip will take about three or four hours to complete. We soon discovered why. The entrance to the cave is pretty high up, and you have to do a bit of rock climbing to get up to it. This is not too hard, but as I have not done any rock climbing in a while, I was a bit apprehensive. The ropes were already in place, and it was only a matter of getting harnesses put on us, a bit of instruction and off we went. Well, the others started. Lillian, Giovanni and I waited. And Waited. There were quite a few of us on the trip, and some of these were not comfortable on the rocks, so it took a while. After waiting a bit longer we got our go, and up we went.
It was easier than I had expected, considering the first person was almost lifted bodily up the vertical section. We found out that the youngest person to do it was 4 years old, and the oldest 82, so it shouldn’t have been that surprising.
The climb itself was not long enough. Just long enough to make me realise how much I miss rock climbing, and short enough to leave me wanting more. Then I was at the top (after a few breaks for one of the guides to take photos!). A good view, again, then it was time to join everyone else. There was a little more to do up here, than down at the bottom, as there was a small diorama set up. It depicted two cave men. Well, one cave man and a cave woman. It is a gesture to the neolithic evidence that has been discovered here. They must have had some fierce predators for them to come all the way up to this place to camp.
When Giovanni made his way up, we set off for the next section of the cave. There were a few head lamps given out, but not much, but with the addition of a few candles lit around the place, there was plenty of light to navigate by. As I still had my harness on, being too lazy to take it off, I was supposed to be one of the first people to do the abseil into the cave itself. This was a process of being hooked up to the rope and crawling backwards into a small space. It was interesting watching a couple of the younger ones going first, but then people kept pushing forward. In typical Bulgarian style, I was shunted to one side, as people pushed past for their descent. Considering there were only three harnesses, and I was already wearing one, this was a bit much, but the harness that was pulled up each time meant that I had to wait even longer. Not that I minded much, but this approach to cueing does annoy me, and Bulgaria is almost as bad as Egypt. I was going to say not as violent in their approach, but that is only half true. Not that it happened here, but we have been bodily moved out of the way so someone else can gain half a second on entering a bus, or get their bottle of beer or whatever!!
Still, my turn came, and I crawled backwards into the space. Finding a ledge to put my feet, then dropped into the darkness below. This was not proper abseiling, as I had no control over the descent, and slightly more disconcerting because of this. It is a deep cavern, and at the start there is no light. I was not blessed with one of the head lamps, and it took some time to see some natural light off in the distance. Then I was on the ground. Out of the harness and having a look around. The cavern is huge, and dark. As my eyes adjusted, I could make out a few details from the small amount of light coming in a fair distance away. But there was nothing to see. There are no formations, just a yawning hole that seems to swallow everything. Someone came down with a light, and we discovered that it was not that far from the back of the cave. Most of the people before me had already gone towards the light.
After the others made it down, we made our own way to the light, only to find that it was up a very steep slope of scree and boulders. From where I had descended, it seemed to be a small crack in a wall. Getting closer it turned out to be a large mouth. Trees casting shadows as teeth. Emerging, we were on a different side of the hill.
That was it for the whole caving experience. Don’t get me wrong it was pretty good, but compared to spelunking in caves around Australia it was a little tame. Most of the time was waiting for others to do the rock clime or descent. The rest of the time was taken in the walk from here, back to the start. This was a very nice walk, as we scaled the side of the mountain, to get stunning views out over the gorge, although I did get in trouble for going too close to the edge. You cannot get a good photo of the 200m drop if you are 10 meters from the edge, can you?
The walk back took quite a while, through some tricky sections, and some very nice scenery. Then we were back at the start. From there to the Devil’s throat to get our “certificates” I was the 13105th person to do the walk (don’t quote me on that, as I am not looking at it now, but there were at least 13,000 other people that have done this. A pretty good job if you ask me) and buy our copies of the photos we wanted. I opted to not get one,as it probably won’t make it back to Oz, but Lillian and Giovanni kindly got one for me!
It was a fun day, and I had a great time, I hope the others enjoyed it as well.
After dinner we headed back to our guest house. On arriving, we were invited into the kitchen where the family and a few friends had gathered. We were introduced to everyone, with her husband offering us glasses of Rakia. Knowing how dangerous this stuff is, we tried to decline, but this was not an option, so we gracefully accepted one glass. That was a mistake, as after the first glass, your stomach is glowing, your body feels good, and your head is already fuzzy. So when the glass refills it is not a problem. Then you are told that the litre of Rakia is not for everyone, but for you. Then you have to drink it….. We tried.