Monday, January 6, 2014
Hatchet Bay (Alice Town)
While in Alice Town, we visited some caves about 3 miles outside of town. Mark and Conrad agreed to go even though it meant riding their scooters in the heat, mostly because they really wanted to see the bats.
Matt and I prepared ourselves for the inevitable whining and wailings of tiredness that usually comes with any trek longer than 2-3 blocks. Instead, the boys impressed and surprised us by making it there and back, plus exploring about 2/3 of a mile inside the cave, with almost no complaining. Maybe they are toughening up. Or maybe they were just super excited about the bats. Either way, it was a welcome change and the caves were well worth the visit. Among the new experiences for the boys that day was seeing bats in the wild, total darkness when we turned off our flashlights, and of course the caves themselves. There was quite a bit of graffiti and a lot of broken stalactites and stalagmites, but it was still an impressive cave system. And some of the graffiti is reportedly from the late 1800s, so it's now valuable antique graffiti. It was different from the caves we've been to in that the temperature of the cave was very warm- it was in the low 70's rather than the low 50's typical for North American caves. But it was in the shade (obviously) so it still offered some relief from the midday sun.
On the walk to the caves we also got to see a small pineapple farm along the road, a remnant from when the area used to be full them. The other unusual sight was a half dozen or so medieval-looking silos that used to house a U.S. missiles installation before they were abandoned.
Mark and Conrad had fun playing in the local Alice Town playground. All but one swing is broken and the lot is a bit overgrown but the slide was fast and steep (yeeha!). They experienced their first wooden teeter-totter, which along with merry-go-rounds seem to have vanished from American play lots, probably for safety reasons. The park is mostly filled with empty wooden structures that make up the stage and vendor stalls for the big local festival in early August.