I was turning 30, and I wanted to celebrate. That’s why I picked Barbuda, sister island to Antigua and known as much for its sand as for its pampering. But the truth is, I got restless after one lazy day at the beach. I had heard others discussing the rainforested lushness of Darby Cave, which was close to the resort where I was staying, The Beach House at Palmetto Point. So I hired a guide, Fabian, to take me there.
Fabian explained that the Darby Cave is actually a giant sinkhole, which I soon discovered for myself when our hike abruptly dead-ended at a hole as wide as a football field is long, plunging nearly 100 feet deep. We peered down onto the treetops of this completely self-contained ecosystem, more verdant than anything else I’d seen on the otherwise arid island.
“Now for the fun part,” Fabian grinned. Using tree trunks and the thick lianas that dangled from them, we began our descent. My adult self was apprehensive about taking a tumble, but the 8-year-old in me wanted to swing from the vines like Tarzan. They reached a compromise, and after carefully climbing most of the way down, I swung from the final vine and landed giddily on the floor of the sinkhole.
We wandered beneath a canopy of palmetto trees to a cave that undercut one wall of the hole. There, we rested and enjoyed the silence, broken only occasionally by the coo of the Barbuda warbler. Happy birthday to me.