August 14, 2009

The Cave

(This is part of an ongoing series chronicling memories of my life growing up as a missionary kid in Vanuatu. For a quick overview and links to previous posts you can go here)

Most days our parents would partake in the Ni-Vanuatu custom of siesta, and rest for about an hour. Towards the end of our time I fell into the same habit, and would often lie on the floor (the tiles were so much cooler than the bad) and read quietly.

But at the beginning, especially when the Scott's were still at Talua there was too much fun to be had to be lying down. One day we ventured over the fence into to bush towards the west of the collage. It was still partially Talua land, every now and then we would come across one of the students gardens.

The bush around Talua has a deep fresh smell, it's the exact opposite of what I know as 'bush' in Australia. While in Australia everything is high, with dry leaves on the ground, in Vanuatu it's low with green abounding. Even the dead leaves underfoot are still damp. We would weave paths around trees, scramble over rocks. We dodged the shrubs with large green leaves with red veins because of the stinging rash we knew they left on our skin. We picked tiny yellow fruits and sucked the seed pulp out of them.

It was during one of these expeditions that we discovered the cave. I suppose it wasn't really a cave, because it had no roof, it was just a small enclosure between two high coral cliffs.

It wasn't a place you played in - it struck awe rather than joy in our hearts. The floor was a mixture of dirt and rocks and leaves, then the rocky walls went straight up, and all you could see above was blue sky. Someone had obviously been there before, because on one of the walls was carved a person without any features.

We stood in a huddle and told each other stories of the people who had been there before until we freaked ourselves out and scrambled over the rocks in the opening and headed back home.

We may have visited it once or twice after that but it never featured strongly in our play. It's strange that that one visit left such an impression, I even went looking for it in our last year before we left. I never did find it again, I think I was too chicken to head too deep into the bush alone, which was probably a good thing.

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