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Kartchner Caverns looks like nothing on the outside. Just two little hills, barely big enough to roll down. The sky was big and blue like it tends to. Our guide’s name was Emily, I think. She had thinning hair and tucked her hands and chin awkwardly. Her laugh was just two little shakes, barely visible. As if she’d spent her whole life hiding her smile. But she was the absolute sweetest. She joked in a way that made us comfortable and talked in slow rhythm. She must’ve been leading these tours for years and the language came out clear and well rehearsed.

Inside, it was black. We left the bright sun for Cave Magic. I’d never been in a cave before and wasn’t prepared to see just how much can live under the surface. I think of fear bubbling under there. But, that’s not what I learned.

There was a whole wall of soda straws turned into illuminated columns. When she shined the light, you could see it pulsate. The water dripped into shapes. The color of burnt sienna and in some places the shape and look of crispy bacon.

Emily joked that water drips were Cave Kisses. Feeling one was blessing and after three, you had to stay, because that meant you were part of the cave. You could barely hear down there. The air was thick, humidity. It made it difficult to breathe.

In the Throne Room lives a massive thing. They call it Kubla Khan. Named from the poem, I think. Or it could’ve been named after Kublai Khan, (the grandson of Genghis) who is known for his peaceful achievements, rather than his military ones. It’s been growing down there for 50,000 years. One water drip at a time. Stands 58 feet tall and you can see how it’s very much alive. 

It’s so interesting how it’s down there growing. For thousands of years without anyone knowing. From the outside, just a little grassy hill.

Source unknown – please inform.

Photo courtesy of The Seattle Times

May 23, 2017