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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Gymkana Urbana


Let me tell you about an urban cache in Santiago, Chile.  It's a little different from the previous caches I've described because it is a multi-cache.  These have several stages and can be a fun challenge as you go from place to place in a relatively not-to-distant area.  Earlier this year I had some free time while on a trip to Sanitago.  I headed out early one morning before my meetings started to get some exercise and caching in.  I came to the coordinates but the park was all closed.  I jogged back to where I was staying and decided to come back after my meetings.  It was summer in Santiago so the days were longer.  When I went back the first stage called for me to find find a statue and take down some information and incert it into an equation to find the coordinates of the next location.  I entered the park at the main gate and climbed the hill and down the other side. The first location turned out to be outside the park.  I could have done that stage of the hunt during the morning but didn't know it.  Now that I had the coordinates to the second stage of the hunt, off I went, back into the park.  I climbed the hill again.  This hill is natural, not man-made.  It sits near the historic center of Santiago and is known as Cerro Santa Lucia.  It is where the first Spanish conquerers set up camp to protect themselves from the Mapuche Indians who then lived in the area.  I climbed to the coordinates and found myself looking for a micro-sized container in a wall.  There were lots of muggles (non-geocachers who have no clue what you are doing and generally think you are a lunatic feeling all the rocks in a wall) in the area.  Finally I found it behind a small stone stuck in the join between stone blocks in the wall.  Another equation but this time I have to incert the Mapuche name for something (to give this away would be a spoiler) into the equation.  I check with a vendor on top of the hill and get my answer.  There is a nice view of that part of town from on top.  Off I went again, this time tracking to the coordinates.  Another stone wall.  This time there's a park bench pretty much in front of where the cache is supposed to be.  Muggles are everywhere.  There is a couple and the guy is teaching the girl to juggle balls about 50 feet in one direction.  Are they watching me? About the time I think they are absorbed in their lessons, along come seven traffic policemen on their motorcycles riding the trail and then stop to have a cigarette break about 50 feet down the trail and in plain sight of me.  So I sit there pretending to be writing something.  I actually wrote a stupid poem while waiting.  Don't ask, I've lost the poem since.  These guys get long breaks. They like to have never left.  Between writing lines of the poem I was studying the wall from the bench.  Where can it be?  At last I spotted a very small rounded pebble stuck in a joint between stones in the wall.  Now, how do I get to this without the policemen, who are joking around, seeing me and thinking that I'm stashing drugs or something there?  Finally I am able to lean forward on the bench and snatch away the stone.  I could just see a small 35 mm container in the join.  It took some probing to finally get it out.  By now I didn't really care what the police would think.  Fortunately they were not paying me much attention.  At last, the logbook and the find! This cache took me several hours of sealthy observation and searching but it paid of in the end. Geocaching is a way to reduce stress.  After a day of stressful indoor meetings, this was a great way to end the day!
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