Never go caving with a whiner "“ he’ll scare off all the bats.

I entered Sof Omar cave with a mandatory guide in tow "“ a teenager in a leather jacket. As soon as I turned the corner my respectable guide began whining. Was I going to give him a tip? How much? “A tip,” I said, “is determined by how well a job is done,” and he, my guide, is already not doing a very good job. At that he turned away. “You are an evil woman,” I heard him curse. I wouldn’t have gotten far with this guy if only my own curiosity didn’t lead me in the path of some lights and wires to a very enthusiastic electrical engineer from Addis installing light fixtures in the cave and who was more than happy to show me around. He asked me to take a few pictures of him and his crew, and then sent them all home so he could give me his undivided attention.

The guide protested and threatened not to show me the way out, but I knew the cave had a through path and I just needed to follow the water. The engineer was up for the adventure and immediately sprung into action proudly showing me marks on the walls allegedly made buy some Russian expedition who was first to map the cave. The guide shuffled on and kept whining and periodically bringing up the issue of his tip and throwing up his hands in despair every time I explained his continuous nudging is only reducing the tip’s amount every time he does that.

I climbed every overhang and prodded every niche, found different species of bats and colorless cave dwelling insects. The engineer was blown away when I solved for him the mystery of the tiny sprouts on the otherwise lifeless cave floor "“ bats have “planted” them by eating the seeds and dropping them to the ground in their guano "“ his joy knew no end.

Location: Sof Omar, Ethiopia
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Born in Ukraine, raised in Israel, and acquiring her higher education in the US, Sarit Reizin is proud to call herself a citizen of the world. However, to stay worthy of the title, she felt a nomadic lifestyle was in order, and in November 2005 left the comforts of the first world with no desire of coming back any time soon.