Day 9, Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Wow, today was supposed to be the easiest of the three day trek, and it turned out to be the most challenging in some ways. First, probably from all the gluten I’ve been eating and lack of sleep the night before I woke up with a bad headache. I drank a lot of water but it didn’t help, so I finally had to break down and borrow some painkillers from Mick.
We took a two-hour drive past Alicante to a beautiful old Medieval Spanish town in the mountains named Bocairent. My headache did not subside until we reached the town.
The original idea was just to roam leisurely around this town, but before we knew it we were walking first way down into a crevice and up toward some high cliffs with what looked like cave dwellings in them. One person in our group who didn’t think she could make it wisely turned back.
We paid a guide to take us into these caves, which, as the brochure says, are “artificial caves with holes like windows, situated in the middle of the vertical rock wall, at 300 m… It has got approximately 50 windows that enter to another 50 rooms. The windows are lined up in three levels but without forming regular ‘floors.’” They weren’t kidding about the holes.
The only way to get from one room to the other was to crawl through holes, some of which were barely big enough for a body to get through. Our guide moved through these caves like Spiderman; he was a marvel to watch. It wasn’t so easy for the rest of us.
I was the first one up the first wobbly ladder through a little hole in the ceiling into the first room. I had an uh-oh thought as the hole wasn’t wide enough for me to bend my knees enough to move my legs up to the next rungs of the ladder. But by twisting a little I could finally do it and ended up pushing myself up into this tiny room where I could not stand up. I offered a helping hand to everyone coming up out of the hole. And then I was at the back of the line.
To get to the next rooms we had to hold onto ropes to get in and out. One person in our group, Richard (he gave me permission to use his name here) started to be in fear; he was kind of claustrophobic. But he said if I was doing it he would too.
I thought it was great fun. At one point, however, the guide apparently told people at the front of the line that this was where they could get out if they wanted to because the next place was very challenging. Most of the group bailed out at that point.
About five of us decided to go on, including Richard. He had me tell him about five or six times that fear is only thought, it’s our own creation, fear is thought and nothing else, until it somehow resonated with him and somehow gave him the strength to go through is fear and into the last, difficult hole. But going up into this really difficult section we had to put our foot in a foothole, sit back against the other side of the hole, push our feet into the wall ahead of us and then use our arm strength to push ourselves up high enough to grab onto the floor of that next room.
I had another uh-oh thought. Where did my arm strength go? I couldn’t believe it! Even a few years ago I would not have had any trouble pushing myself up there, but it took every ounce of strength I had to do it. Going back down that same hole was no picnic either.
In one year and a little over a month I will be 70 years old. I decided right then and there with my now very aching arms that I had to start lifting weights or doing something with my arms or I would lose the rest of my strength.
Anyway, other than that, it was tremendous fun. And Richard conquered his fear and felt so exhilarated afterwards. The rest of the time, after walking up the really nice “magic path” back up to village, we simply sat in a wonderful old square and ate a Tapas meal together. It was quite a beautiful feeling; a perfect day.
That night I traded another coaching session with Della, and this time she worked on my arms and upper back, which were much in need. Many of the people from the EPT and the trek, including Karen, now left and a new group started arriving for the next weekend session. Luckily I have two days to myself before that starts.