an article i wrote when i visited chinhoyi caves, a tourist attraction in zimbabwe
| Chirorodziva-the sacred pool|
Even the air I was breathing itself felt sacred, I inhaled deeply and felt the sacred and crisp air feel my lungs. A tingle went up my spine and I crossed my hands, this was going to be fun and scary at the same time. Fun and danger, I'd take those two any moment, they were the complete recipe for a real cool adventure." We are now entering sacred ground, I advise you to be at your best behavior and not to shout, or the spirits might be provoked" the guide said with a wink. "C'mon is that necessary?' a foreign tourist in the group asked. For one funny moment my mind went to the story of Moses in the bible, who had been asked to remove his shoes because he was standing on sacred ground, this was sacred ground, of course in a different way. I switched off my phone and shoved it in my back pocket.
2013 had been a good year for me, so to end it on a high note I decided to push myself to my limits. I'm not a superstitious person but what is sacred is sacred, period. I found myself in a kombi bound for Chinhoyi caves... I had literally grown up in the vicinity of the caves, but each time friends had suggested a tour to the place I had not run out of excuses. Legend told of really scary stuff happening at the caves if one disobeyed the rules of the place chief on the list being gasping in surprise or shock. I had heard stories of talking baboons, snakes with legs, and people disappearing for breaking the gasping rule and only coming back after certain traditional rituals were performed. Who would not gasp after seeing a baboon in jeans? They were myths but I loved my life too much to tempt fate.
The caves comprise of a system of tunnels and caverns but we were mainly interested in two, the dark cave and the famous pool. We took a descending staircase which led us to the dark cave which was bathed in light from the huge fluorescent lights. The cave was very big, bigger than the average sitting room in the ghetto. The guide explained that in ancient times, the cave was used as a storage room or cellar by chief Chinhoyi; he pointed to some sticks and explained them as having been storage bins for the chief's grain. The feeling of being several meters underground was somewhat scary, I did not dare think what would happen if the electricity suddenly blacked out. As if reading my mind, my worst nightmare came alive... the lights suddenly went out and we were plunged into total darkness, no wonder why it was called the dark cave. A chorus of screams from members of our small group told me that there were even more scared people than I. "calm down please, the power will be back in a moment" the guide said in a patronizing voice. I can swear I detected a hint of amusement in his voice.
From the dark cave we took a flight of steps down and came to a narrow passage, here the feeling of being underground was really strong and after the lights incident, fear was nearby, we followed the narrow passage and came upon a sight. It was beautiful beyond expression; the sun's rays were penetrating down the large swallow hole, illuminating the water into a lovely blue color. The water was so inviting, but I dared not go near it. This was the famous Chirorodziva, or the sleeping pool. The water was so still and calm, it was deep no doubt. It is in this pool that several people were thrown when the inhabitants of the area were attacked by an enemy. "Anyone care for a dive?" the guide inquired and the looks he got told him that was the last thing we would under threat of death.
We took a very steep flight of stairs back to the main entrance, I was out of breath when we got to the surface, and the stairs where not the only contributor, hidden approximately 46meters under the surface was the most beautiful pool I had ever seen, and all this while I had been avoiding it, I had conquered my fears, seen the most beautiful underground but sunlit pool in my life, what a wonderful merry Christmas.....