While searching for an idea to write about, I came across Quora.com. Here there are community discussions and questions like, “What was the #1 book you wish you read earlier in life?” or “Who’s the greatest coward in history and why?” and community members answer accordingly. I saw one that would be perfect for this week’s post:
Where is the most amazing place you’ve visited, of which most people have probably never heard?
The Devil’s Throat (Dyavolsko Garlo)
Located in the Rhodope Mountains in Southern Bulgaria, the largest cave on the Balkan Peninsula has a river running through it. There is a waterfall deep in the cave where it is believed Orpheus descended into the Underworld to rescue his love. With the local legends surrounding it, and its proximity to Greece, one can hardly argue.
There is no evidence of anything man made entering one side of the cave and leaving the other. Locals and researchers have sent unmanned boats, giant logs, even red dye down the underground river, only to have it disappear. There is a memorial plaque in honor of the two scuba divers who attempted to see first-hand what is actually going on down there. I had the chance to see this mysterious cave before I left the country. I was so there.
I was lucky enough to be with a friend who had done the tour about fifteen times, so he knew all the points of interest, cool rock formations, and the difference between a stalagmite and a malagmite, which helped make our descent interesting. After ten minutes-ish, we came to the large opening of the cave. I forget how high the ceiling was (well I guess it still is whatever height it was 8 years ago) but being there I had one of those moments when you think, “Wow, I really am small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things. The echo was deafening and the light was by no means ample, but some rays of the sun made visibility a possibility. I saw where Orpheus began his trip, and just had to play the imaginary game of “What if took off down the river?” What was down there? Why does nothing come out? Water goes in one side and out the other. What is preventing anything, even dye, from making it through?! I could find out. It would be the last thing I ever learn, but it would…. Oh I guess that’s just silly.
After taking it all in for some amount of time that was just right, we began our ascent. As we started to climb the hundreds of stairs, the sun seemed to hit the sweet spot on the cave. We walked up stairs for about 10-15 minutes just listening to running water and looking at this.*
It was a moment when I was in awe at what I was seeing. It really was the beauty of nature at its best. The rays of sun hit the opening in the cave just right, reflecting off the spray to provide a glow that is indescribable. “A picture is worth a thousand words” is a very apt saying right now. My friend who had been there so many times told me he had never seen anything like that before, which made the experience even more special.
If you watch the youtube clips posted below, you’ll see the road leading up to the cave’s entrance is not exactly ready for big-time tour buses and heavy traffic. The remoteness of the site added to the amazingness and rareness every traveler yearns for as they hit the road. I am lucky to have had this picture come out, because without it, I would not have been able to share as accurately as possible my trip down to Hades’ doorstep.
Here are the links of two random people’s home movies of the cave. The first one is just a few still shots.
This one is kind of lame, someone trying to be funny and stuff, but there are a few good shots to give you an idea of the steepness of the steps we climbed and the aforementioned road.
*Sorry for the weird quality of the picture. I had to take a picture of the picture because I still have yet to convert all my film to digital files. I have got to get on that.
Here’s a note of curiosity: I want to know how people from other countries are reading this blog. When I look at the stats, it shows from which countries each view comes from. I can figure out France, Bulgaria, Germany, and Thailand. Russia? Bolivia? Iceland? Netherlands? How did you find us? Feel free to leave a comment explaining how you did. Inquiring minds want to know.
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