The Cave of Our Marriage


‘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.

Newly-hitched Dude and Me at the front door of the Palais Mendoub. No, he didn’t carry me over the threshold

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).

Me. Swanning around the Palais. Favorite Factotum in background

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.

On the road, specifically a seawall in Cadiz (which is in Spain, for those who don’t want to dig out a map)

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.

Silly me. Somehow I had pictured a big ole Fred Flintstone sort of cave. Or like in New Yorker cave cartoons. The kind of cave where you could just pop in, peek at the paintings, and leave.

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!

Lisbon, where our road trip began and ended. And where, I’m happy to report, there were no caves

New York City. March 2017

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16 thoughts on “The Cave of Our Marriage

  1. Amazing how two seemingly opposite types can live happily together for so long. IDK, may be something about the marriage contract that makes some of us feel like we have to stick to it no matter what, and in your case and mine it seems there really hasn’t been any level of abuse, right?

    This honeymoon story reminds me of the similar one my parents experienced, though of course it wasn’t quite as exotic. My dad always liked driving trips, too. Most of the trips I recall from childhood involved me chattering away to Dad, as he worked on his driver’s (as opposed to farmer’s) tan while Mom and Sis got in some really good nap time, which Mom had learned from their honeymoon experience was the best way for her to enjoy Dad’s drives to who knew where and on who knew what type of road. It’s therefore easy for me to believe that I was conceived after they’d returned from their honeymoon which Mom always describes as driving as far up US Highway 1, which hugs the Pacific Coastline in CA, with her throwing up around every curve, and there were more of these on that road than straightaways! No wonder they never reached their planned final destination!

    I am also not a big fan of caves, of whatever height or depth or featuring whatever new or manmade features. I think that if you’ve seen one cave, you’ve seen them all. That’s why i wasn’t particularly keen to hear the talk that I’d arranged for fellow adult ed students where the state archaeologist shared his own personal pictures of Devilstep Hollow Cave, located in the Sequatchie Valley near Crossville, Tenn., The cave is now securely gated so people who can’t get in there wanted to see what they were missing. The sillies!

    • First, thank you for the wonderful road-trip anecdote! I’ve been on that highway, and it is scary and urp-producing indeed! I’m so glad to hear that I am not the only Reasonable Adult Person who is terrified of caves. The Child shares The Dude’s stupefaction that anyone wouldn’t just love to go spelunking. (I wouldn’t know if they’re all alike since I refrained from going into another one.) As for opposites attracting, couple wise, you’ve anticipated a post I’ve been considering writing. It’s going to be called ‘The Rules of Attraction’. I’ve been trying to figure out how to write it so it doesn’t sound, hmmm, like a downer (?) Watch this space! And thanks again for your careful reading and thoughtful commenting. xoxoxo

  2. I am so happy for you, Alice. This is a lasting love, despite the cave episode. I would have been scared, too – safety probably was not a great factor in consideration for tourists. On our honeymoon in Jamaica we were offered “ganja” to take back with us. We were just slightly suspicious enough to turn it down in case a sheriff showed up at the departure gate. Happy Anniversary to you and the Dude.

    • Thank you, Judy. Loving the ‘ganja’ episode, O Girl After My Own Heart. Gotta love these guys, eh? My best wishes for many more years of adventures to you, too! xoxo

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