I am a proud

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Banana Man - Central Peruvian Jungle

It was a real blessing is to be able to spend time with other ex-pat friends recently. We gathered in a house not to far from the new cache I placed in Pucallpa, Peru. Pucallpa is a jungle city of about 400,000 population situated on the Ucayali River. The logging industry is probably the biggest business in this region. For much of the year this region swelters in heat and humidity but is blessed with all the beauty of the rain forest. Pucallpa is a Quechua name meaning literally "Red Earth". A sign as you come out of the airport into town welcomes you to the "Tierra Roja". More and more streets are paved now but most are still red dirt (or mud if it is raining). The major form of transportation is by moto-taxi. The streets are full of moto-taxis buzzing (a rather loud buzzing when there are hundreds of them) up and down with their passengers. They out number cars 15:1 in this town and are the major mode of in-town transportation. I'd like to see the day when tourist geocachers in Pucallpa are running from geocache to geocache in moto-taxis. I'm convinced that those tourist who happen to be geocachers planning a trip to the Peruvian jungle and trying to decide between one location and another will likely opt for the location with the most geocaches. I placed the new cache near the airport and along a well transited road. It's called The Banana Man (GC2JR26) and the picture tells the story. I've spent two mornings walking the streets around this house looking for a decent place to put a cache out but found very few. Most locations are too full of muggles to place a cache and expect it to survive the week. The Banana Man has a good chance of survival if the geocacher is careful. The cache is not right in the middle of all that traffic but is in a more cacher-friendly location within sight of the Banana Man. If you come to Peru let me encourage you to visit the Ucayali River area, nearby Yarinacocha (a beautiful lake) and check out a few caches in the area. Congratulations to Dav&Lin for the FTF!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Oldest Catholic Church in Ecuador

Sumajhuarmi and I got up at 5 a.m. in order to hit the road by 6 a.m. We were headed out for one of those fun days of geocaching and sightseeing in Ecuador. We traveled south along the Panamerican Highway from Quito. We traveled through towns like Latacunga, Salcedo, and Ambato to get to our destination: Riobamba. We were hosted by Jimnet2005 and Maria Belen in their hometown. Soon after arriving at their home we headed out in their little red sports car to the Colta Lake area. Colta is not only where the first catholic church began in Ecuador. It is also famous for being the place where the first Ecuadorian highland Spaniard settlement was established in 1533. It is also where the first Evangelical missionaries began their work among the Chimborazo Quichua in the early 1900's. We pulled into the small parking lot in front of the oldest Catholic church in Ecuador. After a quick tour of the building we headed outside to look for Balbanera: The First Catholic Church (GC2J8Y7). This was the first nano that I've found in Ecuador. No spoilers here. You'll have to find this one on your own! After signing the log we traveled a few kilometers further south and visited the new Colta Park right on the lake. I highly recommend it. We took a half hour boat tour on the lake. You can rent paddle boats, rafts or you can go out on the fiberglass covered tour boat with a guide who'll explain the legends of the lake. Colta Lake has lots of reeds (totora). There are also several floating islands made up of totora on the lake. Some of these even occasionally have cattle grazing on them. We were told that the islands float around so for a week or so at a time the cattle graze as they float around the lake. Cow tourism I guess. Today we saw no cattle but as the boat tried to pass between two of the floating islands we got stuck. To get from the south end of the lake to the north you had to pass through a small breech between two floating islands. The guide and driver gunned the boat to get us through going north. Coming back south he didn't make it and we got stuck. It took all four men on the boat to pole and push us out of this trap. The floating island was firm enough that the guide and his helper could lay a long pole down on the grass and stand on it to push the boat. That along with poling got us through. If you come to Ecuador I suggest you visit this church and nearby Colta Lake!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Some Piedmont rural caches

Hot muggy days may stop some cachers but not me. I have to take advantage of being in a cache-rich environment while I can. My wife had assigned me the task of running several errands so I programmed in a few caches along a route to and from. I started out in an urban setting but ended up in a rural area. I prefer the latter. In the urban areas I typically get to the GZ and find it too muggle-heavy to search for during business hours. I write these off for after hours. There was one urban cache at the end of a parking lot that proved do-able. It was from a "Gone with the Wind" series. I can't figure out the connection between the cache container and the title. The location was beside a fire station thought. It was called Great Balls of Fire! It's Rhett! (GC1YK33). It was a nano cleverly disguised as the picture indicates. From there I hit a few that I had DNF'd last year. They stayed DNFs as I've apparently not gotten any wiser. As I moved into the rural setting I found another cache in a series around the theme of telecommunications. Can Ewe Here Me Now #2 (GC242XE) demonstrated one use for old cell phones. I visited another in that same series before moving on to my favorite, a container hidden on hillside full of large rocks. Hard Rock Candy (GC23EX2) was a little more of a challenge and very much appreciated. Getting to it required a little climbing and some bushwhacking through the briers. Now to the last errand and home. It's KFC tonight and I have to bring it home.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Kusilluchayuc: toads, snakes and monkeys

During a recent trip to Cusco, Peru a friend and I caught a taxi and traveled along the main route leading to the Sacred Valley. Our quest was to find Kusilluchayuc (GC2XQF2). Our taxi driver stopped several times to ask directions so as to get us as close as he could. This ancient Inca ruin is located off the routes that cars can travel and does not seem to be a main tourist attraction. The driver stopped and asked a farmer if his passengers could cut across his field. With friendly approval from the farmer we were off on a 500 meter hike down the hill to a clump of carved stone outcroppings. My friend tracked us to the cache with my GPSr. After signing the log and replacing the cache we decided to search for the famous stone with the carvings of a monkey and snakes. The name of the cache and also the name of the ruins means "place of monkeys" in Quechua. At this elevation there are no monkeys but the Inca people certainly knew of the monkeys that inhabit the nearby jungle. The stone was described as being two meters in height and shaped like a large toad. Fortunately for us the cache was an easier find. After a short search we found some young lovers hiding out among the ruins. They were kind enough to show us the stone. Maybe they thought we'd go away quicker if we found what we were looking for. It was hard to make out the images. Can you see the image of the monkey in the close-up photo? It looks like they are pretty weather-worn. On one side of the ruins runs the Inca Trail. We walked uphill to get a glimpse of the Moon Temple. It was already getting late so we took photos from a distance and headed back down the mountain. We had several stops to make along the way. One was Quenqo Grande and Quenqo Chico. GTAbusquedor has placed a micro at Quenqo Chico. If you come to Cusco be sure and visit the labyrinth Inca ruins here. We then cut across a stand of eucalyptus trees to the Cristo Blanco statue overlooking Cusco. There we began our descent into Cusco. As we were coming down the steep mountain prepared trail the lights of Cusco began to come on. What a beautiful view! Cusco has so much to see. Fortunately the number of geocaches is growing too!