I am a proud

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Bizcochos, Christmas Candy Bags.....and a new cache

One of my favorite treats is bizcochos, a brick oven-baked crispy bread strip typical of a certain area of northern Ecuador. Almost every time we travel north from Quito to visit places like Cayambe or Otavalo we stop at our favorite cafe which specializes in fresh bizcochos. They are great with a cup of hot chocolate on a cold rainy day. They are even better with a serving of dulce de leche (also known as manjar in some places). Bizcochos are a traditional snack. Three towns most notable for their bizcochos are Cayambe, Tabacundo and the small town of El Cajas. El Cajas sits on the provincial border between Pichincha and Imbabura Provinces. This little town is built on the sale of bizcochos and the work of a few gas stations. That's about it. Nonetheless, stopping off at one of the cafes where they also make bizcochos is great fun. Our favorite cafe is "La Casa del Senor de los Bizcochos" in El Cajas. The front of this cafe is spotted like a Dalmatian or a Holstein cow. Not far from this location I just hid a cache by the name Spotted (GC2KHWV). Care must be taken for muggles. This is one of those where you might need to sit down and rest on the grass next to the hiding place and talk on your cell phone while feeling around for the cache. The day we had this cache we took a mixed group of Ecuadorian and North American church members to work in the Quichua community of Espejo. it was just a few days before Christmas and we were doing a children's program. we had a clown, some musicians and singers, a preacher and a translator and several folks just to visit with the people. We had a great time. If you get to Ecuador be sure to visit the area around Lago San Pablo. Espejo sits beside the lake and the lake is gorgeous! Check out the several caches in the area too. Hopefully one of them will be mine.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Cool Water Fountain Park in Lima, Peru

Cool as in neat and cool as in the weather was cold, at least for Lima. After about ten days of travel through the high country in the department of Ancash and then some training events in Lima, my wife and I went out to visit El Circuito Magico del Agua, a water fountain park. We went after dark and had a great time. For only 4 soles (about $1.30) each we walked the grounds, seeing eight large water fountains. At night they are well lit with different colors. One in particular was a lot of fun. It was a sort of tunnel made of water. The tunnel was about 50 meters long. You walked underneath the shooting water lit up with red lights. Another was a sort of labyrinth of water. The children really liked this one. A few adults were also pretty engaged. The water would turn off in certain parts of the labyrinth allowing time for the brave ones to jump across the temporarily dormant water jets that fired bursts of water 20 feet into the air. There were a number of wet ones out there; the ones that weren't quick enough. On a cold night that meant some were headed home pretty quickly after coming out of the labyrinth. The grounds included statues, flower gardens, gazebos and more. The park is open between 4 and 11 p.m. and has a special twenty minute water and light show every hour at the main fountain. If you get a chance to visit Lima this is worth the time. A quick taxi ride of 12 to 15 soles (about $4.50) from Miraflores will get you there. It's along Avenida Arequipa. Sorry that there seem to be no geocaches in the immediate area.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cerro Nielol - Temuco, Chile

The most southern part of the southern hemisphere is headed into spring while those to our north are moving into fall. For those of us who live on the equator the changes are much less perceptible. On a recent trip to Temuco, Chile I had the opportunity to look for the one and only geocache in that area. I also had the opportunity to introduce six friends and their children (we were 13 all together) to the sport of geocaching. I was with them for three days so early on we set Monday, our last day together, as the day to go for the cache. The kids were excited about the "treasure hunt" we would be going on. I didn't want to build it up too much not knowing what the geocache would look like. It could have been loaded with swag and of great interest to the kids or it could have been emptied of swag and a bummer for the kids. One of the parents told me this morning that their six year old son got up and wanted to know whether I would forget about the promise to take them treasure hunting. I hadn't. We meet at the Cerro Nielol hill overlooking the city of Temuco a little after 10 a.m. There is a city park there but you do have to pay a little to enter. It doesn't matter whether you are a resident in Chile or not, you pay. For non-residents the cost was about $2.00 and even less for residents. We paid our entrance fee and drove to the top of the mountain. Two of my friends had their GPSr and had the coordinates plugged in. The kids were also plugged into it. With the clue in hand we took off up the trail, climbing slightly to the birdwatcher's overlook. Following the needle of both GPS devices we went up the hill until their needles swung around and suddenly told them that the GC was about 50 feet behind them. We looked at the clue again and realized that it described the cache as being just meters from the overlook. Back we went and found the tree we thought was the place. Along with one of the older children I climbed up to the other side of the tree and started kicking around. Sure enough. We found it. One of the boys wanted to look for another. That simply wasn't possible as the nearest traditional cache to this one is probably 60 miles away at the foot of the Andes. I would love to go there today but there was no way. I had a great time today finding Cerro Nielol (GC2016P). Enjoy the pictures.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Riobamba Overlook

Jimnet2005, a relatively new Ecuadorian geocacher, has jumped into geocaching with both feet! He has traveled up and down the length of Ecuador seeding the country with caches in some of the most beautiful places here. I'm sure thankful for a serious cacher in Ecuador. I've really enjoyed looking for his caches. We had the opportunity to stop off in his hometown recently. While there we climbed a mountain overlooking the city to find one of his own caches. We followed the cache instructions which led us to the Ricpamba municipal gardens. From there we followed a series of way points designed to keep us on track up to the cache and to help us chart our way around private property. I must admit that at one point I got a little confused and we just headed straight up the hill through the eucalyptus trees. I wasn't sure whether we were trespassing or not. The trail looked fairly well used. After some strenuous climbing we reached a road that appeared to be the main approach. From there we were on track again. We climbed up into a beautiful stand of pine trees. Near the top we arrived at the GZ. What a view of the city of Riobamba! This afternoon El Altar volcano was out and clear. See the photo! The cache was unique to Ecuador. Check out Riobamba Overlook (GC29WGX) if you like. I don't think I've seen on here quite like it. After signing the log we headed back down through the pines. Geocaching is the perfect sport or hobby or whatever you want to call it for seeing this beautiful country. Thanks again to Jimnet2005!