Sunday, December 25, 2011
A great time was had by all who attended the Triad Christmas Party (GC38XB0) geocaching event at the Farmer's Market near Greensboro, NC this past Friday night. Thanks to markcase for organizing the party. We had some great country cooking at the Moose Cafe in a room set apart for our group. We were probably 50 people or so. My granddaughter, who declined attending, calls us geo-weirdos but I don't mind. I was accompanied by my grandson, MasterYoda1, who was thrilled to meet some of the people who have been finding his geocaches. I met some new geocachers from the general area. I sat across from some folks from Martinsville, Va. and beside a fellow who started caching two months ago and who is from Ashboro. We all brought a geocache to exchange. We formed a large circle and markcase read a silly story about Christmas. Everytime he said the word "right" you passed your geocache to the right; everytime he said "left" in the story you passed your cache to the left. At the end of the story most of the caches had made it around the circle. When the story ended you had your cache. My grandson took a unique cache. His was a bubblegum dispenser full of swag. Mine was a micro. I saw some unique and interesting cache containers. On top of everything this event was my 1500th geocache find. After the party we went out to find two caches that were specially placed for the event. MasterYoda1 was the FTF on one! We came home content and ready to attend future events if given the opportunity. Merry Christmas to all!!!!!!
Sunday, December 18, 2011
We had the pleasure of meeting up with some good friends recently and got to tour the sites around Cusco. We rented a van and bought passes to see Sacsayhuaman, Quenqo and several other Inca ruins within a short distance of the city. The day was beautiful and everyone was well. We climbed through the Sacsayhuaman fortress ruins. What amazing stone work done so long ago! For me another highlight of the visit was the earthcache at the location. After touring all the fortress off we went to complete the requirements for Striated Extrusion of Sacsayhuaman (GC2Q45T). The cache page included a photo but none of the rock formations I could see seemed to match up with it. While my friend continued looking around on top of the hill I climbed down and told my wife I was going to look around the back side of the hill. Before I got around the hill I could hear children laughing and screaming with delight. There it was; the scene from the picture. The rock formation leaving two perfect stone slides about 30 feet long. There were about 15 Quechua children having the time of their lives sliding down the stone slides. The five kids in our group joined right in. This made their day. If you get to Cusco be sure and visit this archaeological site and check out the slides. They are great!
Sunday, December 11, 2011
In almost fourteen years in Ecuador I had successfully avoided the bull ring. I just wasn't interested in seeing man take on bull. During a recent visit by my daughter's father-in-law he talked me into taking him to see what he and I thought would be a bull fight. Quito has its bull ring in north Quito where during Quito Days (the first week of December) there are full fledged bull fights with famous matafores. This was not what we went to see. We saw a sign advertising a bull fight in San Jose de Moran, one of the outlying communities on the northeast side of Quito, so we decided to go. It was advertised for 2 p.m. We caught a bus up to the small plaza in front of the San Jose de Moran Church. From there we asked directions to the bull fight. Some children knew the way and for a quarter we had a guide. Think small town rodeo now. We paid our $3 entrance fee and came into an area that was partitioned off from a soccer field. The owners had put up tarps to block off viewing by those who didn't pay to come in. There was a coral around which people could gather and then there was a raised platform. We paid $1 to rent a plastic chair each and climbed the ladder to the covered platform. We set up and waited. While waiting for the bull fighting to begin, along came a young man. He sat down on the edge of the platform and promptly dropped something. He climbed into the ring and on his way out my son-in-law offered him a hand up. Unfortunately the young man was already running on alcohol or some other drug. He wanted to know if we were going to "torrear" (fight the bulls). We quickly told him no. He pulled out his cape to show us his plans to fight. Soon the loud music ceded way to an announcer who told us of the imminent release of the first bull. Suddenly a about 10 spectators entered the ring, most congregating around a small safe zone in the center of the coral. This area was about 4 feet by 4 feet wide and was nothing more than a small cage made from logs stood upright in the earth. As the first bull was released these young men did all they could to taunt the bull into coming their way. They were mostly operating on liquid bravery or a sense of machismo designed to impress their girls. It was interesting to watch one strut onto the field like he was something and then scurry to the safety of the safe zone the moment the bull took a step in his direction. Suddenly our bull fighting friend appear in the ring, cape in hand chasing behind the bull. Of all the amateurs on the field of battle this young man was clearly the bravest or the most foolhardy. We weren't sure which. Time after time as the macho men dived over the wooden fence or ran for the safe zone, bullfighter used his cape to trick the bull to the left or right of his body. Only on a few occasions did he feel the need to climb the wall. There was another group of men there. I guess they were a subset of the macho men. They were the vaqueros, or cowboy types. It was odd to see the spurs, the pointed boots, jeans and cowboy shirts and hats on Ecuadorians. They too scurried for safety every time the bull came their way. Bullfighter persisted in tracking down and engaging the bull, occasionally losing his footing due to drink or drug. We were concerned for him. It would only be a matter of time until the bull would win. Bullfighter made it through the first hour and it wasn't until the third bull came out that his time was up. The bull pinned him against the fence, fortunately not goring him but apparently breaking his wrist. As he retired from the ring the fire department medics came to check on him. He was through for the day. We were glad he was not seriously injured. After an hour and a half of drunks taunting and running from the bulls we wondered if the main event was about to begin. Certainly a small community bull fight isn't just a bunch of drunks running around with the bulls? Suddenly in came the clowns. These guys were used to fighting the bulls and were pretty good. One made a big deal of grabbing the microphone and asking where we three gringos were from. They were proud that we were there at their small time bull fight and made us feel welcome. Maybe a little too welcome as after the first period of clown antics with the bulls one climbed into the stands to try to offer us a drink from the same big beer bottle that they had forced into the bull's mouth. We declined because we don't drink and if we did we wouldn't drink after bulls. Some of the crowd did. This was followed by one of the young macho cowboys riding a bull. He did a pretty good job, staying on the bull until it surprised everyone by crashing between the upright logs of the safe zone leaving the cowboy hanging in the air. Whether we arrived at a midway intermission in the program or the end we weren't sure. I suspect it was intermission. We realized that there wasn't much more that could happen that was new unless they were going to have drunk women fight the bull next. I wasn't sure I wanted to see that. I remember a sign at the ticket booth that said that children under 12 were not allowed in the bull ring. By now there were boys even younger than 12 in the ring. The police and medics didn't seem too concerned. Time to go. I thought of placing a cache in the area but it was just not practical. Chalk it up to another interesting cultural experience. Rural town Ecuadorian bullfighting isn't what you think of. Yet, a positive point is that they didn't hurt the bulls. If anything it was the drunks who get hurt. Not the best day of entertainment. I won't go back.
Sunday, December 4, 2011
While caching in the Triad area of North Carolina I've come across some unique and interesting caches. Here are just a few:
1) It was one of those days where I had to get just one. I'd started the day saying that I'd spend it with family and help my wife pack for our return to Ecuador. Then as the day dragged on and it became evident that she didn't need me as much as I thought she did, the nagging feeling that there were geocaches out their waiting for me got the better of me. I only had an hour before time to go to my son-in-law's parents house for supper so I had to be quick. I parked the car on the exit ramp where the truckers have parked and worn down a pretty definite parking area. I crossed the ramp and into the woods. Just as described, Nuke It (GCW6A0) sat as big as day for all to see. All that ventured into this part of the woods would see it but not the casual passer-by. I opened it up, signed the log, picked up a TB and was on my way to supper.
2) Later I was out for a few more caches. One caught my attention. It was Slice! (GC21T5F) just off of an old golf course. I parked at the recreation center and started to track into the woods. I was not prepared with long pants for the briers I encountered so I headed out to the main road to try it from there. I found it not much better. Nonetheless I beat my way through a patch of briers with my walking stick. Once in the pine thicket the undergrowth was much less of a problem and moving was easy. I found the red bucket and the spilled golf balls described in the cache notes. Within a few minutes I had the cache in hand. To get out I decided that the direct way through the woods and briers to the recreation center couldn't be much worse than the round about way I had come in. I was right and was on the road to another cache in no time.
3) Kicked the Bucket (GC1R9Q1) was another fun cache. I parked the car at my wife's maternal grandparents' old place. They have since passed on. I walked down the road and then began some serious bushwhacking through the high weeds and briers. My wife waited for me back at the old home place, reminiscing about days gone by. When I got to the GZ I found the old car in the photo above. The clue required that I look a certain distance at the 1:30 position from the driver's seat (had their been a driver's seat). The clue was good and I had the cache in a short time. The trip out of the wilderness was just as rugged as it was getting in.
4) The last one isn't a cache but one of the interesting sights seen while caching recently in Greensboro, NC. I'd just come out of the woods near Price Park. I was actually in a residential section when I saw these two fawns walking through a yard. They casually crossed the street and stood in someone's front yard as I snapped this picture. They seem to be very used to humans. We never see deer in Ecuador so I'm always intrigued when I get the chance to see them!