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A newbie spelunker ventures into Libuton Cave Click on an image to enlarge and to begin slide show.

When they said they were going to "take me to the caves," my immediate reaction was "cool. Should make for some interesting photo opportunities." I visualized a crushed gravel path leading from a small ticket booth to either a continuation of the path into the side of a hill or set of stairs or an A friendly school girl in Dipolog elevator that led down to the start of a self guided tour, complete with yellowing plastic covered interpretive paneling explaining the difference between stalactite and stalagmites, different geologic periods and where one can purchase a postcard or trinket bearing the name of the cave. I've been to caves in the United Kingdom and United States, and expected a similar experience. Prior to leaving, my research showed that Head guide Renan Agustin Zamboanga was the most dangerous place in the world, in 2010, for journalists, thanks to one large bomb that killed 60 in one fell swoop. One of our protectors rests. When we arrived in Dipolog, we were received as VIP guests and visited the governor's offices before being taken to a Korean Restaurant for lunch. While Carrie was to conduct her work, which is through the Association of Canadian Community Colleges, I was going to be 'taken to the caves.' Half way through lunch I was told my ride had arrived and, with just my trusty and spanking new Pentax, I went outside to meet my guides. I was greeted by the head guide, Renan Agustin, a friendly but serious man of about 35. Standing behind him was a machine gun toting Philippine burberry official outlet online soldier, three or four Philippine Red Cross workers and a couple of assistant guides. It still hadn't dawned on me what I may be in for. I wondered if there would be something to eat somewhere near the caves as I had not eaten much. Fact is, the day before burberry clothes outlet online I suffered through the worst bout of food poisoning (later turned out to be a stomach virus of some kind) of my life and hadn't eaten much. I clambered into a packed van and Renan began to instruct those gathered about how one should conduct him/herself while in the caves. We made our way about 40 km south down the Zamboanga Peninsula to the municipality of Manukan, and once there we changed from the van to a beaten up four wheel drive. We turned off the main highway and headed up into the mountains, passing by tiny hamlets, where wood smoke drifted from thatched huts and curious residents waved at us or eyed us as we bounced past. Forest Service Road seem positively highway like. More surprising was the fact that a great many people lived along this road, only passable by four wheel drive, dirt bike, foot of bicycle. We stopped at a small hamlet (Libuton) and alit from the jeep. Renan led us to a small building and we entered. Once inside, he clambered into a light blue set of overalls and joked about keeping his clothes clean and wife happy. The others in the party, aside from myself and the stoic soldier, also climbed into coveralls, adjusted helmets with lights, slipped on knee pads and prepared for what I was beginning to realize was a bit more than a saunter through a tourist cave. Renan handed me a helmet and surveyed my hiking boots with some agreement and smiled. He led us out into the humid mid day sun and single file we moved off the road and down a jungle path. Five or six steps down the path, Renan suggested I watch my footing as the mud was extremely slippery. He was just finishing his warning when 'SLAP' I slammed shoulder first onto the ground. He seemed worried. What kind of fool was he guiding, I am sure he wondered. We hiked for about a mile through the jungle and Renan imparted his vast knowledge of the area, the montane jungle and the nearing caves. We passed through a natural coconut grove and he warned me to keep alert as one doesn't wish to get beaned by a falling coconut. He told a story about passing through the area during a windy day and dozens of coconuts were falling. As the path cuts across a 30 40 degree slope, he described how coconuts would bounce downhill like out of control bowling bowls. Once I had worked up a proper jungle hile lather, I was beginning to come to the firm understanding that I wasn't going for a stroll. I was actually going spelunking. I am not claustrophobic nor easily frightened by the unknown. However, after once venturing too far into a seaside cave burberry uk sale in Cornwall, England, and became momentarily stuck facing into complete darkness without anyone knowing where I was, the notion of becoming a burberry outlet website spelunker left me for good. Besides, big spiders scare the living hell out of me. Suddenly, Renan and his two key guides stopped and they began fiddling with rope. I looked around me, searching for signs of a cave. I was standing about six feet from the entry and had no idea. Once some vegetation was gently parted, a hole about the size of Smart Car opened before us. An agile guide made his way down into the darkness a spider hole, I called it to myself with a frightened gulp.

Then another guide entered and a couple of the Red Cross workers, before Renan guided me to the rope and instructed me on making my way down into the cave. I managed to grapple my way down into the cave and one of the guides placed his hand on my chest and told me to stand still. Renan slid down into the cave and began his vital work making sure everyone, his guides included, made it through the cave without incident.


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