There are at least two incredibly cool things to do when in Carlsbad Caverns. And somehow - by sheer luck and happy timing - we manage to strike both. The first is to see the bats flying out. The second - to walk down the natural entrance to the big room - preferably alone. Bats flying out for the night of hunting are so spectacular that park service has built an amphitheater around the cave entrance. On Saturday evening there are so many people that we nearly give up. But we stay and endure the interpretive part. It's not like we don't learn couple of useful facts but the show is fine tuned to keep kids interested and public is invited to participate. The two things that guarantee I'll be mortified cringing in embarrassment. The ranger somehow holds it together through questions like: how do bats give birth if they are hanging upside down? And: what happens if bat mom needs to give birth while flying?
I am dirty and wet. I am lying in a puddle of cold dark water and trying to catch my breath. I am exhausted. My body hurts. I cannot really see what's going on. Our guide's boots are in front of my face. Natalia and the rest of the group follows but in some places I cannot even look back. I cannot stand up - there is 300 feet of rock above me. My submerged knees are in a damp slick mud and they keep sliding. There is no turning back. I can only keep crawling. Pull my protesting body forward using my fingers and my toes. I start laughing: I actually paid to have it done to me. I find a relatively dry spot. Get a short rest and press on. I am in a passage called Cheese Grater. During Wild Cave Tour. In Mammoth Cave National Park.