We climbed to the cave in the midday heat, appreciative of the shade as its vault eclipsed the sun. Fifty metres separated its base from its roof. We cut off the steep path and scrambled between two crags, pausing to catch our breaths as the ground beneath our feet became loose. For all its height the cave was relatively shallow, and our hands were soon upon the dusty surface of the back wall.
A hundred metres below lay the flatlands of Santorini’s south-eastern coastal plains. Lethargic waves rolled onto the island’s black volcanic sands, pushing the scent of sea salt and plant resin into my airways.
Waking me from my reverie, a flock of turtle doves winged into the cave, dislodging a bank of debris as they came to rest somewhere in the cavity’s upper reaches. Landing not far from my person, part of me wished I’d been beneath the rockfall; I could think of no greater souvenir from our adventure than an abrasion from a dove in a cave.