The Rift Valley – Part II

Twelve hours later, they landed on a makeshift runway in Tanzania on the red, sandy soil, cleared of scrub. They grabbed two rucksacks and a tent-bag, jumped out of the tiny four-seater plane and ran over to the side of the strip. The plane took off again immediately, leaving them stranded, with not a soul around. “Man, it’s hot!” thought Indigo. “Almost as hot as she was last night!”

They set up camp amongst the barren, heat radiating rocks of the Olduvai Gorge. It was so hot, Jacqueline climbed into the low tent and began to take off all her clothes, so he pulled his hat low, took out the map, and looked about for a cave, the cave that The Founder had told him about. It was much too sticky for anything else at this time of day.

When he got back, in the late afternoon, she was asleep inside the tent, completely naked and lying on her back, her arms and legs akimbo, perspiration rolling down her breasts and tummy.

“Wakey, wakey!” he shouted, rudely planting a kiss on a tempting nipple. “We had better move camp up into the cave I’ve found. It will be dark soon, and very quickly. Then it will be too cold to stay out here!”

“I was having such a lovely dream!” she sighed. “About a man I once knew who didn’t stop for such domestic arrangements.”

“Later, my flower! Get dressed and move. It will be much more comfortable up there.”

After a very comfortable and at times rather hectic night, they awoke to prepare coffee and bacon in the mouth of the cave, the morning sun slanting in and lighting up the very back of the cave. Sloughing off their dazed bleariness, they began to explore.

They soon found evidence of ancient human habitation, probably small family groups. There were paintings of a journey on the walls of the cave; past or future, they could not tell. They pressed on further back into the dark recess.

They came to a low arch in the rock, pitch-black beyond.

“We had better be careful,” said Indigo. “This is always the point where something nasty happens!”

They cautiously edged through the narrow opening and, almost immediately, a round boulder rolled behind them, cutting them off from their camp, light, warmth and equipment. Fortunately, he had a torch in his shoulder-bag. They pressed on, hoping to find a way out. There were various hazards: snakes, bats, spiders, underground lakes. Ugh! He hated spiders! He kept his hat on at all times.

“Don’t be afraid, Indy! I’ve seen it all before!” said Jacqueline, nonchalantly.

Well, that’s progress he thought. At least they were on first-name terms now!

They reached a cavern, deep in the mountain, that could not have been seen by human eyes since the figures of the ancient huntsmen and animals were drawn on the walls, and the people left on their epic World journey, 70,000 years ago.

There was an altar in the middle of the cavern, and on the altar, to Indigo’s and Jacqueline’s startled surprise, a round, symmetrical shape lay beneath layers of red dust, untouched for thousands of years. Indigo brushed his fingertips over it, and a metallic gleam glistened in his torchlight.

The object was a small, shiny, titanium cylinder with rounded ends. It looked as though it could be unscrewed. Indigo gingerly lifted it from the slab of rock, but the ground immediately fell from beneath his feet and he threw the cylinder to the girl.

He rushed feet first down a shaft, bouncing off the rough rocky walls, into an underground river. It was cold, but flowing; there must be an exit. He shouted to Jacqueline, telling her to climb down, with the cylinder. Which she did, expertly, of course.

They waded in the direction of the stream’s flow, eventually seeing light ahead, and finally emerged into the dazzling sunlight again, under the very peak of Mount Lemakarot looming over their right shoulders. They splashed along the shallow, clear stream, which discharged into the dried-up Lake Magadi in front of them. The evaporation was almost immediate, and the mud was steaming.

They hunkered down at the side of the stream and Indigo unscrewed the lid of the cylinder. A roll of paper fell out. To his shock and disbelief, it was headed with the “Oodles” logo, dated with last week’s date, giving them directions to a safe spot where they could be picked up.

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