Jamaican Caving Notes
Feb 1, 2004
Field notes: MARK BELLINGER
Cavers: M. Bellinger, I. C. Conolley, R. S. Stewart, D. Williams
(Continued from Bertie Sinkhole)
After much backtracking and many stops, we finally landed at the homestead owned by Ms Mac and Uncle. A tentative welcome was warmed by cold Red Stripe and the stories began.
Carlton was maybe always troubled and his living situation was not so good. A bad night, maybe one of many, brought him to Hutchinsons Hole. It was a Monday night and he had run from his house towards the Hole… maybe a quarter or half mile away. He may have been screaming or yelling. Concerned neighbors went to check on him. But, no one saw him jump. No one saw him again. The police were called as was his mother.
We were told by the locals that the hole was deep. Too deep. 500 feet, 1000 feet, maybe 2000 feet. Bottomless?! Some thought the air was so bad that bottled air was required. And, of course, it was dangerous. Too dangerous.
I started the morning with spice bun and a coffee courtesy Ms Mac. We checked gear, packed up and walked the quarter mile to the Hole. Until recently, the hole would have been nicely shaded, but all the trees had been cut down to make way for the first recovery effort.
So, in the open sun, we worked to rig the hole. And the people kept coming. Maybe fifteen people started down the path. By the time the rigging was set, and Steph was ready to descend, our audience was over a hundred. People were on all sides giving the place a stadium feel.
I found everyone wanting to be very helpful. Really too helpful. People with no protection would be precariously balanced against the load. Bare handed good Samaritans were boundless in their enthusiasm and I found myself more than a little anxious watching this.
And, of course, the many rocks that were perched above were on all of our minds. No different really from any hole other than you have 300 people gathered around straining to get the best look.
Eventually we found our stride and people seemed to listen. Uncle and Noel were the local representatives who helped the most. I think at first, they thought we were quite mad to do this thing and were determined to keep us from killing ourselves. Later, when they saw everything was working okay, they seemed to relax and take directions better.
Even TVJ came to visit. I had to ask the camera guy to step back a couple times because he kept getting in the way. And the police came too. They left with a foot in a shoe in a box.
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