I like Groundspeaks' new cache rating system for favorite caches. It gives a chance to go after the best caches in an area first or to focus in on them if you only have time for a few. It's up to part of the geocaching community to rate these. Geocachers can give out "favorite" ratings or take them away. A geocacher gets so many "favorite" points that can be awared based on the number of caches he has found. The only part of this I don't like is that the only ones that can rate the caches are those that pay for it through the premium membership option. The "common" member who is not a premium member is left in a second class position. Nonetheless, we do get to benefit from the ratings of those who pay to play. I'm fortunate enough at the time of this writing to have several with favorite ratings: First was Metro Park SE (GC15JCC), a well-hidden cache in Metropolitan Park in Quito. Karen's Caper (GC182AC) and Brandon's TB Boarding House (GC1K4MD), geocaches in Quito's Metropolitan Park. These are both TB hotels located near the park entrance. Then there's Entry to Mordor (GC1PTW0) which is also located in the same park. It is in a strange place where you find yourself going up an old creek bed that only runs in rainy season. It is overgrown above and therefore dark and spooky. In the Ancash Department of Peru there is Llanganuco (GC1QPKE), two lakes nestled between high mountains in the White Mountain range possibly nominated because it is at such a beautiful location. By like sign Get on Your High Horse (GC1TTFN) is located high above Quito at the Teliferico grounds. Back in Metropolitan Park is the tricky trails of In Favor of Freedom (GC1VF26). MTMAN2 Surveys His Work (GC23Z9P) employs some trickery and is in the Metropolitan Park. Finally Between Huts (GC2FWBX) takes you up above the first refuge hut on Chimborazo Volcano. It's great to have nine caches listed as favorites! I hope you'll go looking for them. These pictures depict some of the places you'll go to find these favorites.
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Living in and promoting geocaching in a small Latin country has been a challenge. Finally we have an Ecuadorian geocacher with whom I'm able to work and play to see the sport progress. Hats off to jimnet2005 for his efforts! Recently jimnet2005 placed the 100th cache in Ecuador! I was honored when he allowed me to find it and then asked me to mark the location with my GPSr and allow him to include me as a co-owner of the cache. Tourism drives the bulk of the cache finds in Ecuador. I can name on one hand the number of active geocachers who live in Ecuador. So join us in celebrating a major milestone for Ecuadorian geocachers! Check out Ruta de las cascadas: Ecuador's 100th cache (GC2M833).
Sunday, January 16, 2011
My daughter recently read the book Jungle Pilot by Russell Hitt and was interested in learning more about Shell, Mission Aviation Fellowship and the missionaries who died in an effort to befriend the Huaorani tribe in the Ecuadorian jungle in 1956. We set out on a sunny day to travel the one hour down the mountain from the Ecuadorian tourist town of Baños to Shell. Along the way I stopped to look for a cache at a spectacular overlook just before arriving at the town of Mera. While there I searched for a while but came up empty-handed with Ruta de las Cascadas: Puerto al Amazonas (GC2FQQZ). Later I was able to talk to the cache owner and believe that I need to go back and take another look. From the overlook we pushed on another ten minutes and came to the town of Shell. Our goal was to find the recently restored Nate Saint House near the end of the Shell runway. We pulled into a parking spot and went in the gate. No sooner than we entered a gentleman stuck his head out to tell us someone would be along to provide a tour. Over the next hour a Missionary Aviation Fellowship missionary took time to give us the tour of the home of the Saint family during the late 1940's through 1956 when Nate Saint along with four other missionaries died at the hands of those they hoped to befriend. For those of us committed to the work among the tribal peoples of the Amazon this house and those who lived here are an inspiration to us and will be for many generations to come. The only parts of the house that are the same way they were in 1956 are the kitchen and the radio room. While there we were able to visit the city's main park and see the replica of Nate Saint's plane. A real highlight was our daughter's opportunity to visit the Nate Saint Memorial School in Shell. Our daughter is preparing to be an elementary teacher and is praying about serving in Ecuador. It was nice to be there with her and see the birthing of a new vision in her life! This called for a new cache. When you come down the Pastaza River be sure to visit the several geocaches between Banos and Shell. One is Nate Saint House (GC 2M53A). You don't have to go on the property to find the cache. But please take the time to call ahead to Mission Aviation Fellowship or to their sister organization, Alas de Socorro, and ask for a chance to see the house and learn more of its history. It's sure to be a moving experience for you.
Sunday, January 9, 2011
January 11th, 2011 will make four years since a 16 year-old friend, and former boyfriend to my daughter, passed away in a tragic and unusual accident. Soon after that happened my daughter and I placed a cache in honor of Geovanny. The cache is En Memoria de Geovanny (GC18HYC). We miss Geovanny for his kindness, his broad smile and his playfulness. This cache is hidden in the Metropoltiano Park overlooking Quito, Ecuador, where Geovanny lived. It is located off a main trail running through a large stand of eucalyptus trees. From the trail you can easily see the location of the cache but very few people leave the trail in this area. The cache has fared well and has logged over twenty visits. I frequent the cache to maintain it for my daughter since she is now away at college. One of my good memories of this cache was meeting Dryagonfly one day as I was teaching some friends about geocaching. Dryagonfly was visiting Quito from Finland and was taking a long day to hit as many caches in the park as he could. There were so many of us around the cache that Dryagonfly declared it an event. Occasionally I've been able to take new geocachers around the park and this is frequently one of the caches we find. We miss Geovanny and are glad that this cache memorializes his life in a small way.
Sunday, January 2, 2011
Ecuador is a country rich with traditions. My youngest daughter, the most Ecuadorian of the three, considers New Year's her favorite Ecuadorian holiday. What is so different about the way we celebrate New Years here? Let's start with the "Old Man". Each family typically makes an "Old Man". This is done by taking some old pants and a shirt, sowing them together and then stuffing them with old cloth or newspaper. Some put some fireworks inside it as well. Then you make or, more than likely, purchase a face mask to place on the Old Man. You can buy masks on most any corner in the city starting the day after Christmas up through New Years Eve. These are usually of political figures or celebrities. Generally if one's caricature is placed on an Old Man it indicates some degree of ridicule. Often a family makes their Old Man up several days before New Years Eve. They often set him outside for all to see. He might even have a jar for coins and a sign asking folks to contribute to some ridiculous cause. All this is for the fun of it. On the 31st of December, a holiday when very few have to work, the family often goes into the street and builds a type of brush arbor with branches from palm trees. They set the Old Man up there. At midnight the family gathers around the Old Man and sets him and his house on fire. The Old Man represents the ending of one year. There are always lots of fireworks. Families typically wonder around the community to look at the Old Men their neighbors have set up a little before midnight. You can imagine with every family in a city of about 1.5 million people burning a life-size Old Man that the city is covered with a cloud of smoke for hours. Take care driving your car the next day too. The city street will be littered with the charred remains of the Old Men and the brush arbors, wood and nails. So, for the ending of 2010 I've placed a new cache called, The Old Man (GC2KVV4). Please come look for it.