After an overnight bus ride from Lima up to the mountain tourist city of Huaraz, we met up with some colleagues and began a journey in their 4X4 across the White Mountains to Yanama. We planned our trip so we could stop for a quick bag lunch at Llanganuco. This is one of the most beautiful high mountain lakes you’ll find. It is nestled between two mountains, one known as Husacaran, a popular climb. Llanganuco real is two lakes, one named Chinoncocha, which represents the feminine, and the other, Orgoncocha, representing the masculine. Much of Incan thought stressed a balance between the masculine and the feminine, cold and hot, high and low and so one. The same here. The water was an aqua blue due to the high concentration of minerals. This proved to be a perfect place to hide Llanganuco (GC1QPKE). Just as I finished the hide, a car stopped. They were Quechua folks from Lima coming back to see the land their parents had migrated off of and to do some filming for their video. These folks were a singing group from an evangelical church. Check out the orange outfits.This is the second geocache in the entire department of Ancash. You would have to travel several hours to the south to find the next cache. Going north you would have to travel several days by ground transportation to find the next one in Ecuador. On this trip it is my goal to place three new caches in Ancash Department. These are being placed in locations frequented by tourist. From Llanganuco we began the almost immediate climb by 39 switchbacks up to the pass in the White Mountains to cross the continental divide. It took another 1.5 hours to traverse the 18 switchbacks coming down the eastern side of the divide and into the town of Yanama where we spent the next three days.
It was almost 39 years ago at the end of the rainy season in Peru (the months of January-May) that the highland town of Yungai of the Ancash Department in Peru suffered a natural tragedy that merits a mention in this blog post. Because it is such a solemn place I did not place a cache here. No one in Yungai was expecting whathappened on 31 May 1970. It happened on a Sunday afternoon while most of the people of Yungai were fixed to their television sets watching a soccer game. Meanwhile, high on snow-covered HuscaranMountain a huge section of the mountain, both ice and earth, shock lose in a brief earthquake. This was about 30 kilometers to the west. Yungai lies at the confluence of two valleys and their associated streams. In a very short amount of time a wall of ice and mud came crushing down on the unsuspecting citizens of Yungai. Many died on this day, trapped in their homes, in a bus and smothered in the streets of Yungai. Over 50 feet of mud cover the town. There were some people in the southeastern corner of the town that were able to run to the cemetery hill that over looks the town. They were the few who were saved from the disaster. Today the site of this disaster is considered Campo Santo (Holy Ground) due to the many loved ones lost almost 40 years ago. This was not the first time that the mountain had given way. On 10 January 1962 approximately 3,500 people were killed nearby when a similar disaster took the nearby town of Ranrahirca. You can read about that disaster in the June issue of National Geographic. For more information on the Yungai disaster visit: http://www.moon.com/destinations/south-america/peru/huaraz-and-cordillera-blanca/callejon-de-huaylas/yungay
I made a trip to the Orlando area to participate in a conference at the John Wycliffe Center. As is typical the conference took advantage of most of the day and even went into the night. It didn't leave must time for geocaching so I got up early on the first day to go out and find a few. I didn't know what time the sun came up so I set my clock for 5:30 a.m. I got up in the dark and discovered that the sun just wouldn't come up. After piddling around all I could, I decided that with a keychain pen light I might be able to find the first cache. The first one was On the Way to Weewahottee (GC1GZKW) located just half a mile from the apartment where I was staying. I got into my rental car and headed out. The cache description said the cache only involved about 20 feet of bushwacking. Hey I can do this even in the dark...as long as there are no alligators. The cache is located on a paved secondary road bordered by some trees and then cow pastures. There were no houses nearby. I parked beside the road and followed my needle into the trees and vines. With the clue I was able to discern where the cache would be. With several flashes of the pen light I found the cache. Nice cache! I made the drop of a TB, signed the log, no trade and turned to leave. Just then I saw headlights shining on my car. A car went by immediately followed by another. Just as I though all was well the second vehicle stopped behind my car. I crouched quietly in the dark just 25 feet away. Then the truck pulled around my vehicle and stopped. I saw the image of the driver get out. He knocked on the driver's window. Then he hollered out into the woods. The tone of his voice (read frustration, suspicion and maybe anger) convinced me that I didn't particularly want to meet this guy. I stayed still and quiet and he finally drove away slowly. Not knowing if he would turn around again or call the police I decided it was time to get out of there. It was still pitch dark. I didn't want to risk using my pen light so I moved swiftly through the vines and trees to get out to my car. Somewhere along the line I ran into some branches and vines that tangled me up. I twisted my head around and slipped through an open space, got to the car and backed out to a little turn-around space with the lights off while watching the truck slowly move up the road. I got out of there. About half a mile down the road I realized that my glasses were missing! What do I do? I can see at a distance but can't read a thing without them. I went back but it was too dark and it would prove too hard to find the glasses. I returned to my apartment and prayed that the Lord would help me find my glasses. These were a new perscription and would cost me to replace. It seemed like forever when it got light enough. I went back over to the GC and spent almost a half hour on my knees feeling around for the glasses. A few cars came by making me feel particularly awkward. I couldn't see clearly enough to find the glasses. They just didn't seem to be there. I went back to breakfast at the conference center where I met up with some colleagues. I convinced two friends with 20/20 vision to go back with me at the break. These guys aren't geocachers so it also gave me the opportunity to teach a little about the sport. We started looking around the GC and pretty quickly one of them found the glassess, not in the woods but right in the road where the passenger side tires of a vehicle normally pass over the road. It had been four hours since I lost my glasses and there they were in the road undamanged. To say the least, the rest of my day was a good one. It had gone from hunting caches to hunting glasses. I returned to the meeting giving thanks to God for returning my glasses intact. During lunch I was able to break away and find three more caches. I have decided to ammend my geocaching practices in Florida. There might be alligators out there. There might be wild muggles too! In the famous words of Charlie Daniels, "I think I'm gonna reroute my trip. I wonder if anybody'd think I'd flipped if I went to L.A., via Omaha"...
Image borrowed from Flicker Commons: typical Florida country road similar to the place where I met the mad muggle.
I was listening to Podcacher, the geocaching podcast by Sonny, Sandy and Sean in late March and heard that they were taking a vacation in Orlando, FL about the time I was going there for a meeting. They announced that a group of local geocachers were hosting an even so the geocaching community in the Tampa area could get to know them. I had already arranged to visit the Sea Breeze Community Church in St. Petersburg and would be there. I made plans to attend. The event was great. I arrived at the Varsity Club restaurant/pub in Clearwater, FL at 5 p.m., signed the log sheet, got my nametag and asked a couple that looked as though they were alone if I could sit with them. It was great to make friends with Rick and Gloria. They were guest from far away just like me. I had a great evening meeting and getting to know other geocachers, some from the area and some snowbirds from the northern states. Sonny, Sandy and Sean came and visited around the tables. It was nice to meet them after listening to their podcast program from over a year now. During the course of the evening the host geocachers even had a drawing for prizes. I was first and it wasn't even a drawing. They gave me the gift for coming the furtherest (from Ecuador). I was impressed. What a blessing. I received a CD/MP3 player. A fellow from Michigan gave me his pathtag as well. I had a great time! I think I'll try to participate in a few more of these caching events when I come home to North Carolina in July for our next furlough.