Leseprobe New York:
After a delicious breakfast on the hotel rooftop garden, both families decided to spend the morning at the beach. There wasn't a cloud in sight and the sky shone bright blue above them. Daylight didn't make the cliff and its caves look any less massive and mysterious. It was still quiet along the seashore and the families found empty chairs with sunshades.
"Let's get into the water," Max whispered to Matti. "This sunscreen is so sticky it's unbelievable."
Matti looked at Max and grinned. His friend's family was plastered with suntan lotion. They had put it on so thick, that their skin was white and shiny.
Max shrugged his shoulders. "Not much I can do. Both my parents are pharmacists," he said, glancing over to Hannes and Lotte.
"I sure love it here," said Magnus next to him and let himself drop into a sun chair sighing happily. Squeaking, the chair sagged into the sand underneath him.
While the adults took their places under the sunshades, Matti and Max took off towards the sea. The water was refreshing and the boys jumped in. With quick strokes, Max swam away from the shore. Matti could see his friend's head going up and down and followed him at a slower pace.
In front of them, the steep cliff extended into the sea. Some of its caves reached dizzying heights and were too dangerous to climb. Max reached the rocky face. Only a short distance away, he saw the entrance to a cave close to the water.
"How about we try our luck with that one?" he called over to Matti pointing to the cave's opening.
Matti nodded his head, watching as Max pulled himself onto a rock in one swift motion. From there he climbed over to the cave.
"Come on, Matti! It's not as hard as it looks."
Cautiously, Matti followed the way Max had shown him. Hoisting himself out of the water, he gripped the rough surface of the rock and tried not to scrape his skin. With a long jump, he reached the cave entrance where Max stood waiting.
For a moment they enjoyed the view over the bay and the fishing village Matala. On the beach, the two friends could see their mothers, Lotte and Anna, watching them. Matti and Max gave them a wave. Then they entered the cave.
"Awesome!" Matti gasped. The boys took a look at their surroundings. They found themselves standing in a cave, spacious enough to move around freely. Light flooded in, coming from the opening.
"Can you believe people actually lived here? Unreal!" said Max. "Look, over there, two benches carved into sandstone. I bet that's where they slept. And those compartments look like they were made for storage. I wonder what it was like to live here."
Max stretched out on one of the stone benches and closed his eyes. "Okay, it's not that comfortable, I wouldn't mind some padding, that's for sure!" he said and opened his eyes.
Matti took a closer look around. Additional light, seemed to be coming in from a side wall. "Max! Over here! I think it might be a passageway leading to another cave."
In a heartbeat, Max was next to his friend examining the stone wall. "You're right. How cool is that?" he said and disappeared into the tunnel. Matti ducked his head and followed him. For a moment the boys had to stoop in order to move without hitting their heads. Then they entered the next cave. It was bigger than the last one and opened onto a platform facing the ocean.
"Wow, this cave is spectacular!" Max called out as he looked around. "I would have taken this one and that's a fact."
"You're right, not too shabby at all this place," replied Matti, grinning from ear to ear. "They even have paintings on the wall." He pointed to an area that was colored in all different shades. Over the years the colors had faded, but were still visible.
"A flower? I don't believe it. Why would anyone paint a flower in a cave by the ocean? There are so many more interesting things, if you ask me," said Max, amazed.
Matti, whose light hair was covered with dust, looked at the painting, deep in thought.
"That strange guy we met on the beach, Frank, he was wearing a flower like that on his T-Shirt. He even said he was a flower child, remember?"
"So you think Frank painted that picture on the wall?" Max asked. "It must have been a while back though."
"Well Frank didn't look so fresh himself, did he?" replied Matti, grinning. "I wonder if we can find more paintings like that?"
Curious, he looked around, walking farther into the cave where it became dimmer. It was difficult to make out colors on the sandstone. Matti took a step closer to one of the walls to have a better view, then stepped back and tried to recognize a pattern. But something was wrong. Taken by surprise, his foot lost touch with the cave floor.
When he opened his eyes again, he could see Max looking down at him, with a worried expression on his face. "Holy cow, Matti, are you okay?"
Matti, embarrassed by his own clumsiness, nodded his head. He was still a bit shocked, but luckily, had not hurt himself.
"It looks like you fell into an ancient grave. The Romans used these caves as burial sites, so you're lucky the hole wasn't any deeper."
Matti looked at Max, eyes wide open in fear.
"Oh, don't worry Matti. There's plenty of gravel and rocks down there, no bones as far as I can see," said Max, chuckling.
"Well thanks, that makes me feel so much better," Matti mumbled and got up onto his feet, still a bit shaky. He brushed off some of the dirt that was covering him. Between the rocks next to his feet, something shiny caught his attention. Curious, he grabbed hold of the object and pulled. Nothing happened.
"Max, can you come down here? I think I found something, but it's stuck and won't move."
Max jumped down into the grave to help his friend. Working together, it didn't take them long to succeed. The mysterious object was now in their hands, and they could hardly believe their luck.
Copyright Sandra Lehmann
Copyright Illustrationen Manja Adamson