‘Or, How deep is your love?’
First, let me say that The Cave of Our Marriage was and is not the cute snow cave pictured above. (Though that is The Child of Our Marriage gleefully playing inside.)
I’m showing you that snow cave because last week I promised cute-kids-in-snow photos if I could get my scanner to work. (More on that later. Or not.) But mainly because no pictures of the Marital Cave exist. (It was waaaay too dark in there for any to turn out, if we had thought to take any.)
Why a story about a cave? See, this week is The Dude’s and my wedding anniversary — the latest of many. At this point, we’ve been married more years than we were alive before we got married. Or something like that.
But about that cave.
We were on our honeymoon, which was a trip we took to Portugal, Spain, and Morocco. We were originally only going to Portugal and Spain, but The Dude’s Mom got on the phone with none other than Malcolm Forbes and asked him if “Wayne and Alice could stay in one of your houses”. (I kid you not. You can read more about this in my piece “They Needed the Eggs”, if you’re so inclined.)
Malcolm was, like, “Sure.” So we tacked on a ferry ride from Gibraltar to Tangiers so we could camp out at Palais Mendoub.
As thrilling as it may sound to stay in a palace in Morocco, this was not The Dude’s most-anticipated part of our trip. (Nor mine, either, to be honest; it was a little weird staying in a palace all by your lonesomes with only a few factotum to keep you company).
Nope. We were excited because we were on a Road Trip. Which is our favorite type of adventure. (More about those in ‘”Drive”, she said.’) Of course, since our Portugal/Spain/tacked-on-Morocco honeymoon, we’ve been on many of these, but this was our first. And we were pretty darned excited.
The Dude was particularly excited about visiting this cave he’d read about in a guidebook. It was somewhere in Spain and there were these prehistoric cave paintings he was eager to see.
Now me, I’ve never been a fan of caves. They’re damp and dark, and, well, let’s just say I had nightmares after reading about Injun Joe’s spelunkular demise in ‘Tom Sawyer’ when I was a kid. (Poor IJ trying to collect water dripping from the stalactites so as not to die of thirst! Oi!)
But this was our honeymoon, and I didn’t want to be a party-pooper. And checking out paintings always perks me up. So we head for the hills. And the cave.
But no. We reach this hillside out in the middle of nowhere. There are a few sheep baaing around, otherwise nothing. Then I notice this metal grille covering an ‘opening’ in the hillside no larger than the one in that snow cave in the picture up there. It’s got a big rusty padlock hanging on it. I’m like, whew! But I say, “Oh, too bad. Looks like it’s closed” — and I’m heading (with great relief) back to the car when this wizened little man shows up.
The little man speaks only Spanish (natch), but The Dude can ‘talk’ to him. (Spanish is The Dude’s all-purpose foreign language. He uses it in every country, no matter what the native tongue. His ‘por favor’-ing gets him some pretty funny looks in, say, France.)
At any rate, some pesos change hands and the little man unlocks the gate and gestures for us to follow him inside.
Now, people. It is pitch black in there, though our guide does have a lantern — an oil lantern; what if it goes out? There is just this teensy ledge to walk on, with a rope sort-of attached to the wall to hold on to. I’m feeling decidedly queasy about this whole expedition when, just to spice things up I guess, Guide Man tosses a pebble into the empty dark space inches from our feet, then cackles (in Spanish) when we never hear it land.
After what seems a lifetime, we reach a sort of dead end, and Guide Man lifts his lantern to shine a bit of light onto the wall. And there they are: the paintings. I was so scared by this point that I honestly don’t remember much about them. But The Dude seemed pretty impressed, and what was more important to me — we turned around and headed back (!)
Once we reached the cave opening and passed through to Blessed Open Space and Air, I turned to The Dude and said, “That was it. That was The Cave of Our Marriage.” When he looked a tad confused, I added that I didn’t recall promising to “love, honor, and visit caves”.
And that was it. Haven’t been in a cave since. Though I have done quite a bit of loving and honoring. And so has he.
Happy Anniversary, Dude!
New York City. March 2017