I clung to the side of the huge red monolith, unable to move, unable to go backwards or forwards. I was, in a word, terrified. I had never before realised how scared I actually was of being high in the air. I had always known that it gave me a little thrill but this was different ... this was visceral.
I vaguely thought about crapping my pants but then realised that the poor unfortunates beginning to pile up behind me wouldn't appreciate that very much, so I held onto that particular body reaction.
The only thing running through my mind was how I was going to be cursed forever by the Aboriginal people because of my lack of respect for their sacred rock.
There was a chain, no thicker than a finger that we were able to hang onto to help us scale the side of the sheer terracotta stone but it seemed as though it was more of a gesture, rather than anything that could actually help were we to loose our footing. It looked like something my little niece would use to keep her dairy closed and I had no desire to test its durability with my entire body weight. Especially if it meant bouncing to my death. Which probably sounds a lot more fun that it actually would be.
In my terror, I studied the rock that faced me. At 2 inches away, the stone was no less intriguing than seeing it from a distance. It seemed to have a decidedly alien structure to it and was constructed out of what looked like massive flakes or scales. Imagine a huge fish ...
I thought about what we had learned in the visitors centre ... about how the Aboriginal people hated that the tourists climbed on the rock and how they cursed those who dared to defile it. About how 37 people had already died just from trying to climb the thing.
My mind raced 10, 20, 30 years into the future and saw my poverty stricken, toothless and balding self, addicted to meth and living in a cardboard box somewhere near Slough.
That was it ... I had to get down.
Turning with difficulty on the vertical face, I endured the jeers and calls of the folks piled up behind me as I apologetically slid on my butt down the flaky scales towards the ground.
Mercifully, my feet made contact with the earth and I almost fell in a faint with gratitude! I glanced back up the face to guess at how far I had actually climbed and once again, paled with embarrassment as I realised that I had literally gotten 10 feet off the earth.
Oh well, at least I'm not destined for a future of meth and homelessness.
Standing away from the rock, it is much easier to appreciate how strange it actually is and I was struck with a profound sense of how huge and ancient this structure is. It stands at 348 meters high. That's taller than the Eiffel Tower and its estimated age is about 600 million years old.
Sitting almost exactly at the centre of Australia, it is such a unique composition of sandstones and minerals that whilst the other rock around it eroded with time, Uluru remained. It is literally called an 'island rock' due to the weird geology that keeps it preserved and it plunges another 2.5 km under the ground too. Its as if some alien life form just threw it at the earth all those years ago.
It is incredible to see, even from a distance and although I never actually climbed it, I like to think that my Karma has remained intact ... even though I almost soiled myself on its dusty surface.
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Hugs to you all,