La grotte de Rouffignac

Today we visited “la grotte de rouffignac”, and as I sit here now with my laptop in front of me, I am wondering how I will attempt to translate my experience into words.

We entered the mouth of the cave, and with every step I took deeper into the cave, I could feel the air cooling around me and the moisture building in the air. As we waited to mount a small “train” that would carry us into the cave, the Piette family’s mood was light and nonchalant, we were laughing and joking, commenting on how the rocks around us looked like walnuts. However, as soon as we mounted the train and started to roll through the dark cave, the mood hushed immediately as we began to comprehend the vast history around us. I could not believe that the cave and the ride was real, it almost felt as if I was on a Disney world ride, and animated Pixar characters would jump out at me any minute.

The ride itself was astonishing, but then we stopped at the first cave drawing; and this was such an indescribable feeling. The beautiful paintings depicted three wooly rhinoceros, and although they were two dimensional, there was a quality of the depiction that made it seem as if it was moving. At first all I could think was: “people made those”… “people made those thousands of years ago”. Not only was I in utter awe of the fact that these were created, and survived to be showcased today, I had that sort of “bigger than self” feeling, similar to the feeling you experience when you stargaze. The drawings were extremely old, and I was aware that the person who created that painting was only a miniscule dot in all the expanse between that time and today; only a tiny mark in a long legacy of humans. And yet. At the same time the simple drawing spurs awe and reverence in the many people that witness it today. Perhaps history is not always great events or horrible catastrophes, but history is simply people, stories of those people who are not so different from us today.

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