We were on a University safari in the Kalahari, Botswana.
We had explored the Drotsky's Cave area and other local points of interest.
Now the geologists wished to explore a special remote sinkhole.
I, the biologist, went along, studying my own subjects.
After several days of Land Rover driving,
We arrived at a wide opening on the flat African landscape.
I remember a grassy, treed area--not quite a true savannah.
Much climbing gear, with many lengths of rappelling line was hauled out of boxes.
Camp was set up and evening cooking alieving much pending hunger!
Next morning, with a beautiful winter (Southern Hemisphere) sun.
Each explorer started the descent into the deep darkness.
Instructions and descriptions were called up from the cavern.
(We had no communication devices, except our clear, projected voices.)
A long vertical distance of just a hanging downwardness,
Finally to contact with a sloping wall,
And then a rappelling to a flat floor of the deep hole.
There appeared to be no tunnels nor exits outward.
All who were descending had done so and my turn had come.
Truthfully, I was not enthralled to hang in darkness,
Reaching a nondescript floor and gaze around.
I had also just gone through a dramatic Cesarean with my first son, Pierre.
My head swam with thoughts of what to do.
Was I to appear as a coward amongst the others?
Was I to be an absent hero for my faraway family?
They had not a clue just what I was confronting.
Was a line to snap and I would fall to certain death?
Was I to truly be missing the experience of my life,
By deciding it would be completely foolish
To take a gamble--similar gambles in my earlier life
To which I would never have hesitated?
This was truly a most difficult moment of decision--
Seldom would one have had such an opportunity--
Stories for future devoted and adhering grandchildren!
I just could not do it. In the end,
I just could not do it. . . .
My fear of death was overcome by my need for life.
Frank Maurer 19 February 2023 10:00 AM.
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