Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Kan'Bah Caves

Day 2 in Lanquin.  We went into the mostly uncharted caves of Kan'Bah.  A deep river flowed through the cave and unfortuneatly, my pics are poor quality.  This was another mistake on our part, but it was one that we shared with others and so it didn't feel as dangerous as our river incident the day before.  But it would be.  That monsoon storm picked up the river current and shot it down into this cavern.  Guatemalans tell you it's safe when they should warn people who can't swim well about the dangers.  We entered this cave with only candles.  I was okay as long as I kept moving.  I've done caving before and love it.  But the minute we stop, I get anxiety attacks.  Now put that with my sister not being able to swim and you've got trouble.  Today's post is a sad one because these pics remind me about another brother/sister team from Tucson who did not make it.  And it all happened the same time we were in Guatemala.  Here's our Kan'Bah story.....
Our new friends planned a day trip into the caves of Kan'Bah and invited us along.  It seemed like a great idea because I had been to several caves before and had a great time.  My favorite part about caves are the bats that drop down right above your head.  There's something really cool about these mammals.  At the mouth of the cave, we encountered several bats flying around the Kan'Bah ceiling.  But we also noticed a river coming out of it flowing into the same Coban river that we nearly lost our lives on the day before.  Now add that with candles and we have a potential issue.  As we entered the dark caves, we waded through water up to our waists.  Until my sister, got into an area over her head....literally! Out went her candle and my own because I went in after her.  The group pulled her up onto a ledge.  She panicked and did I.  Why?  I don't like feeling trapped.  I hate crowds or crowded spaces.  Elevators are not cool.  Car rides after several hours take their toll on me. And concert halls can cause anxiety attacks.  The group went on into the caves leaving us behind with one candle burning.  There was darkness.  Water flowing down a ledge.  Bats flying around our heads.  And candles placed along the sides of the cavern to the exit.  The only issue was that my sister would have to swim through the deep areas of the cave to get out.  In her state of fear, it wasn't going to happen.  The group went further and further into the cave and their voices echoed to a silence eventually.  We wondered if they were going to come back.
The candles to the faint light of the entrance slowly burned was our own candle.  I thought of things to make us laugh and pass the time.  Eventually, the others returned.  Several people did the same thing we did and stayed on ledges waiting for the group to return.  The others made it into the secret waterfall cavern where they jumped into the darkness of the cool pools below.  Our group helped my sister get her footing on solid rock...slippery....but solid rock nonetheless and we made our way out of this extremely dangerous cave to the people down below.  Open air made me relax and smile.  My sister vowed never to go into water again.  And unfortuneatly to this day, she won't go into unknown waters without being able to see the bottom. The pic below shows the Coban river after the monsoon storm.  Never ever ever again.  And to my Tucson readers, this rule applies to all of us here.  Recently a man was swept to his death as a wash suddenly filled after a microburst formed on the East side of town.  He was taking his dog for a run in the wash like most people do, but during that day a storm hit one side of town while it was sunny where he was at......and yet the wall of water caught him unaware.
Sadly, I'd like to bring this post to a close and remember two siblings from Tucson who did die during the same time period that we were in Guatemala. Stunned, I collapsed on my living room floor after hearing the news. But they were thought to still be alive at the time. So I went on the internet right away to read the Peruvian articles which confirmed that they actually were dead, but their parents still were hopeful.  Even though I didn't know them personally, I understood the pain and sadness around the event.  That could have been easily us.... They had been mountain climbing and fell through an ice crack where they froze to death together on a cave ledge.  Dustin and Kristen Yoder were experienced climbers and their deaths really hit very close to home for me.  Today there is a Dustin and Kristen Yoder Memorial Foundation set up in their names. After all these years, I haven't forgotten these two siblings.  Imagine being a parent and losing both your children.  I can't imagine the pain that they went through during this tragedy and continue to feel as the years pass by without them.  I imagined my own parents in the same situation and it broke my heart.  Life is precious and we can't take it for granted because you never know when your time is up. Their story and example reminds me to live each day to my fullest. And you know what?  If you watch their slideshow, they lived and had wonderful lives....and they did what they loved best.  We can't dictate how the cards are dealt, but we certainly should play the game the best we can. And that's all we can do.  More tomorrow.

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