I am a proud

Friday, January 30, 2009

Quito Geocaching and Mitad del Mundo

Today was drizzly and cool. It didn't matter. John and Arnold, two friends from Peru had arrived in the pouring rain on a Lan Peru flight from Lima at 2:45 a.m. That's right, a.m.! I didn't even think the airport would be open, much less the skies clear enough to make the approach. I picked them up, got Arnold to a friend's house and took John to our house and crashed again. At 10 a.m. we met up with Brett and Arnold in the park. Our goal for the day was from John (low_rider73) to find as many caches as he could. Arnold was learning what this crazy sport is all about. We had a great time visiting, catching up on each other's work and mutual friends. In the course of the morning and early afternoon we found a number of caches. We've had a lot of rain lately so we found ourselves doing some maintenance on a number of the caches. We were caching in the clouds most of the morning. After a quick lunch at Corral, a great Colombian hamburger place, we were off to Mitad del Mundo (Middle of the Earth). It sounds like we live in Tolkien's middle earth. We drove the approximate 5 miles north of Quito to the tourist site where French scientist in the 1800's marked the equatorial line. Today there is a nice large monument with the equator line marked on the ground. Then there are the many artisan shops that surround a beautiful colonial town square. John and Arnold had the traditional photo on the equator line. GPS technology has helped clarify where the real equatorial line is located. It is about 300 meters further to the north from the line you see today. The Fake Equator, GC934A, is the oldest geocache in Ecuador. It is a virtual requiring you to find the actual equatorial line by getting to 00.00, take a picture of your GPS and send it in. To do this you end up off the property of the Mitad del Mundo tourist site. You do pay a couple of dollars to get into the tourist site but the real equatorial line is free, just watch out for the big trucks passing by. Man I wish that virtuals were allowed on  

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Downtown Buenos Aires Parque San Martin cache

We flew on a COPA flight from Quito to Panama and then all day to Buenos Aires, arriving at 10 p.m. local time, three hours difference from Quito time. We took a remis (a type of taxi) from the airport and were at the HoJo Hotel on La Florida Street by 11:15 p.m. La Florida is the walking zone for tourist. We checked in, dropped our bags and headed out to find the only cache we were able to get on this trip: Libertador General San Martin Square GC 1K5M4).  We selected our hotel with this geocache in mind. We were just across the street. At just before midnight the streets and park in this area are always well illuminated. This is tourism central. Although the cache is not recommended for night, we had no other choice as our remis was to pick us up just at sun-up. We tracked out into the park and found that we had some signal bounce. With the clue we were able to track right to it as we back tracked. Right to the cache just as the clue indicated. We sat on the park bench and signed the log in the light of a fancy park street lamp. Just then up drove park maintenance. He parked right in view range of us and just sat there. We waited, ate some snacks, waited.... Finally we decided that we'd have to take the micro home with us and return it before sun up. Maybe this guy would go somewhere by then. I woke up a couple of hours later thinking of going after another cache five blocks away but found that it had just the evening before been archived after being muggled. I went out and to my surprise found almost every park bench in the San Martin park occupied by restless sleeping homeless people. Most had blankets and some were saw logs. Right where I needed to be, on the bench where we signed the log the night before, slept a man who, as expected, just couldn't get comfortable. He tossed and turned as I walked by. I went up the sidewalk and waited, obvious to some of the other semi-sleepers. Finally after the fellow was still a while I crept in with the large tree between the homeless fellow and I. I reached around and deposited the cache in its place and go out of there. I don't think anyone saw me. This is a nice park by day but maybe the cache owner is right to say its not for night caching. Here are a few shots of the park at night and La Florida street where several tourist hotels are. I wish I had more time to go after four more new caches here but have to fly. 

Monday, January 19, 2009

A time to cache and a time to archive

I really enjoyed my trip to Guatemala but was disappointed by the cache situation in Guatemala City. There was only one cache in the most sprawling city in all of Central America. The cache record showed a number of smileys for those who have looked for the cache, including the most recent cachers to visit. Since I had to overnight in the city on my way back to Quito, Ecuador I decided to get up the next morning and take a taxi downtown. Downtown Guatemala City reminds me of parts of Quito. It is an urban center and somewhat dirty.  Short of finding this cache there wasn't much to draw me to this area. I arrived at the GC to find that the office staff of the Art Exhibit/Furniture Company were coming in later. I went to the central plaza and took a picture of the main cathedral and messed around the souvenir stands for a while. When I returned the secretary who was managing the cache told me that someone on staff had removed the cache. Oh no, removed but not temporarily archived. The cache had been on a terrace open to the sun. Normally there are many tall potted plans arranged around the terrace and the cache was apparently in one of these. Because of the upcoming holiday season the cache maintainers had closed the exhibition and moved the plants inside. The secretary had no idea where the workers had stored the cache. She allowed me to look through the potted plants, now lined up inside in the hallway, but there was no cache. She was almost certain that someone had stored it somewhere. After several phone calls she had to give up and so did I. Disappointed, I returned to my hotel and soon left for the airport to catch my flight home. Thankfully the cache was archived after my post. I wish this had been done earlier. It could have saved the waste of time, taxi money and energy. This is a good lesson for me too. I own a few caches. Sometimes the tendency when you've had several DNFs in a row is to leave the cache up and see if you get a few more DNFs before checking it out or archiving it. Maybe the time to archive is sooner than later in order to help out the next guy.  TFTC and the lesson.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Christmas Cache Stash

My wife is really on target. Living in South America there aren't too many geocaching-related gifts to give a guy or gal that is into the game. That didn't stop her. On Christmas morning she came through with two great little gifts. One was a head light that can be useful for those night cache hunts and in particular for camping and night climbing. It's not unusual to leave camp and start climbing the first leg of a climb in the dark. The lamp will be very helpful. The second gift was really neat. I got a large Christmas gift wrapped in typical Christmas paper. I opened it to find that sumajhuarmi had packed a large box full of tupperware containers, medicine bottles from pharmacies here in Ecuador, magnets, swag, logbooks and the like. What a great idea. Sounds simple and wasn't very expensive but it is one of my favorite gifts this Christmas! The next day I put some of this gear to use. Jonathan expressed interest in geocaching so I took him out on a jaunt through Metropolitan Park overlooking Quito. Our mission was to replace a muggled cache, place a new travel bug hotel and drop a large number of TBs I'd brought back from the US. It was a great day and Jonathan enjoyed geocaching. He found several caches along the way. One of his favorites was Hanger (GC19AQY). From there you get a panoramic view of Quito and the Quito airport.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

New Year Resolution: Going for a 1:10 ration of found-hidden caches

The New Year brings lots of resolutions. I think it is the same with geocachers too. We set milestone goals, new goals for states, provinces or countries where we wish to cache in the coming year and more. For me, my resolution is to work towards a 1:10 ration between my geocache finds and geocache hides. Maybe if I lived in a cache-rich environment I wouldn't pursue this but here in Ecuador, and Latin America in general, there aren't that many caches. I do enjoy finding caches more than hiding them. But since we don't have many here, I've found a lot of joy in placing geocaches for others to look for. Sure, I wish more geocachers living in Ecuador would hide more caches. If they won't then I will. Right now I'm behind in my goal of achieving a 1:10 ratio. I'm committed to working on that. If we all did something like this we'd create a cache-rich environment. Today sumajhuarmi and I went out and contribute a little towards this goal. We drove out of Quito to the east into the Valley de los Chillos. We passed through Cumbaya and Tumbaco, bedroom communities for the capitol city. Up we climb from sunshine into the clouds to hide a cache on the continental divide (also the provincial border between Pichincha and Napo). When we arrived at the GC we were in the clouds with wind and drizzle. We parked at the small chapel along the main highway. Sumajhuarmi headed out to place the cache a short distance away and out of site of muggles. She was in a hurry as the climb of more than 6000 feet from the valley floor had resulted in about a 32 degree drop in temperature. It was cold! Be on the lookout for the High Lonesome cache, GC1KBMT. Cache placed and off we went back down the mountain. Soon we were back in the sunshine and working our way down the winding road towards into the valley. In Ecuador the government paints large blue hearts on the pavement wherever someone has died in a traffic accident. Along the road we passed two curves with over 20 blue hearts. This was a reminder of how dangerous it is to pass on a curve. In Ecuador many drive with a "que sera sera" mentality and therefore put many at danger. Not far from the last group of blue hearts we came upon an accident scene. Someone had driven off the road and over a cliff. The police and a large crowd were there so we didn't stop. It was a straight stretch of road so how they went off the cliff remains a mystery to me. Soon we were in Cumbaya again. We decided to drive around the town a little. This is a nice town with nice suburban communities. All of a sudden we saw a sign to the reservoir. I immediately recalled having looked down from the Metropolitan Park over Quito and seeing this large water reservoir so I was eager to visit it. The Cumbaya Reservoir is open to the public. There is a well-maintained trail around the reservoir. Sumajhuarmi and I grabbed our swag bag and headed out. It was a pleasant, peaceful walk with great views of the valley and the eastern mountain range where we were earlier. What a great place to hide a geocache! Yet, it is private property and I didn't have permission. If it were public property that would be a different story. As we walked a long I saw numerous great locations for a cache. Maybe I can approach the governement water company to seek permission in the future. As we were about through with our circuit we came upon an immediate solution. Bordering the reservoir is a public park. Perfect! We were able to hide the Cumbaya Reservoir Micro (actually in the ajoining public park). Be on the lookout for CG1KBK7. This was a good New Year outting! I'm a little closer to my ration goals too. We had to go celebrate with ice cream!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The National Tourism Police Reloaded and Antigua, Guatemala

The adventure just keeps on keeping on. When I left Official Castillo and the National Tourism Police we agreed that I’d come by on Tuesday and help them hide a cache. The birds around the house where I’m staying really kick in the noise around 5 a.m. as the sun is starting to brighten the sky. I was awake and eager to go, even without the breakfast served in the house at 7 a.m. I headed out the door to walk across the small, colonial town of Antigua to get to the police barracks. When I got there Francisco Castillo was waiting to go. I showed him how to hide the first cache there on grounds of the barracks. He found a perfect place to do it and then marked the location. We then went back to the office to get on line and log the hide. I helped him work through that while he finished the morning routine of having his policemen fall in for formation and inspection. Afterwards Francisco, Minor (who had lived four years in the US and spoke good English) and I went for breakfast at a local restaurant. From there we headed out so the National Tourism Police of Antigua could hide their next official geocache for tourist. We were almost to the edge of the small town when Francisco got a call to come back to the barracks. When we got there seven policemen in plain clothes got in the back of the pick up. I recognized Saul, one of the agents that had accompanied me up Volcano Del Agua. We talked and I found out that they had all volunteered to go the Del Camino Baptist Church and help with some painting and construction work today. Most of the policeman attend the services there and hold services in the barracks as well. After our brief detour to get the guys settled we headed up the mountain to “La Cruz” Park overlooking the city. By now Francisco has the idea and already knows exactly where he wants to hide the cache. I realize that my job is to let him hide these two caches just like he did the first one. Not a bad deal as I might get to hunt them myself if he hides them. Soon Francisco has selected the location for the first cache near the lower end of the park. He had the coordinates and names the cache Cerro de la Cruz – Pitalla (GC1JY4J). For security the National Police normally have three teams of policemen patrolling the park. We met them all in the course of the morning. Being the man in charge of the barracks, Francisco borrowed one of the motorcycles these policemen use and off he and I went to the upper end of the park. Again Francisco knew exactly where he wanted to place the cache. Now Cerro de la Cruz – Camino a Hato/Tubos (GC1JY4P)  has been placed. With this down we headed down the mountain and back to the police station where Francisco has another meeting with his supervisor who has come to town. He assigns me to the care of one of his office clerks and we upload the geocaches to  What a week this has been! I came here to visit our missionaries and planned to get a few caches. I don’t find any caches but become good friends with the key figure of influence on the tourism industry in Antigua and get to teach him about our sport. Not only that but I get to encourage him as he places three geocaches that are easily accessible for tourists. I said my good-byes and left satisfied because of the new friendship I have with about ten policeman in Antigua and because of the opportunity I had to further promote the sport of geocaching in Guatemala. It’s not to bad becoming something of a cachambassador.

La Policía Nacional de Turismo y Antigua, Guatemala

¡La aventura no ha terminado todavía! Cuando últimamente agregué algo al blog el oficial Castillo y la Policía de Turismo quedaron de acuerdo que yo iba a venir el martes con fines de ayudarles esconder un geocache. Porque los pájaros cerca de la casa donde yo estuve parando comienzan su ruido a partir de las 5 por la mañana cuando se levante el sol, yo ya estuve despierto y ansioso para ir, aun sin el desayuno. Camine por las calles de la ciudad turística y colonial y llegué a la delegación de la policía a las 7 por la mañana. Francisco Castillo me estaba esperando. Lo mostré como esconder un geocaches y el se lo hizo dentro del predio de la delegación. Francisco encontró un lugar perfecto y marcó el lugar. Volviendo a la oficina nosotros ingresamos los datos en el formulario de para un nuevo cache. Yo le ayudó ingresar los datos mientras que Francisco hizo inspección de los agentes de la policía. Al terminar su tarea salimos yo, Francisco y Minor, su conductor quien había vivido en los EE. UU. y aprendido Ingles bien, a desayunar en un restaurante. Desde allí salimos por el cerro para que la Policía de Turismo pudiera esconder sus primeros geocaches con fines de promover el turismo en Antigua. Casi llegamos a las orillas de la ciudad cuando llamaron por radio pidiendo que volviéramos a la delegación. Al llegar de nuevo siete agentes de la policía subieron a la camioneta. Uno era Saúl quien me acompañó escalando el volcán Del Agua hace unos días. El me los presentó a los demás agentes. De allí fimos a la iglesia bautista Del Camino donde ellos iban a ayudar los miembros de la iglesia pintando las paredes. Muchos de los agentes asisten las reuniones de la iglesia y tienen una relación estrecha con la iglesia. Cuando terminamos nuestros pequeño desvío al templo de la iglesia, fuimos subiendo hasta El Parque La Cruz. Ya Francisco entendió el proceso y con muchas ganas comenzó a decir donde debemos esconder los dos geocaches. Por esto me di cuenta que mi trabajo era de animarlo y dejar que el escondiera los caches. Mi resultó bien porque pude también buscar los caches después. Dentro de muy poco tiempo Francisco tuve puesto el primer cache en la parte inferior del parque. Francisco lo nombró Cerro de la Cruz – Pitalla (GC1JY4J). Para mejorar la seguridad la policía de turismo tienen tres equipos patrullando el parquet todo los días. Francisco, el jefe de la delegación, tomó una de los motocicletas y me llevó arriba al extremo superior del parquet donde ya sabia donde esconder su segundo cache. Pronto Cerro de la Cruz – Camino a Hato/Tubos (GC1JY4P) fue puesto. Volvimos a la delegación porque Francisco tuvo que recibir su jefe. Me dejo con uno de los agentes y nosotros pudimos ingresar los datos para dos nuevos geocaches en ¡Que semana tan linda! Vine a visitar con nuestros misioneros en la escuela de idiomas. Además tuve la oportunidad de buscar algunos caches y promover la idea de geocaching con los lideres del turismo en Antigua. ¡Tengo nuevos amigos también! Siento como si soy un Cachembajador