On our last day at the beach I was joined by my wife (sumajhuarmi), daughter (rubialoca) and her boyfriend to finish out our caching experience on the Grand Strand at Myrtle Beach. Abi (his nick name) had never heard of geocaching so I had intentionally reserved some regular sized caches and a few easy micros for him. Fortunately we were able to find them all. Abi seemed to enjoy it, helping us find all the caches. Would he have been interested in caching if rubialoca wasn´t along? I don´t know. I hope so. One of our favorites was
rubialoca, sumajman and sumajhuarmi at the sea marsh
It´s NOT Not on a Hill (GC10N5Q). Another cache that was both educational and took us to a beautiful location was Hog Inlet Sea Marsh (GC1GB5C), an earthcache. Later while logging the caches and explaining the website to him we swung over to his native Mexico City to see what caches were nearby his home. He was amazed that such a game could exist and be some hidden from plain sight. Farewell to North Myrtle Beach and a great but short vacation! Oh....a few days later Abi facebooked with me and wished I'd hurry back so we could go geocaching again soon.
We took a step out on the wild side and started something recently. It's called Geo-Turismo Amazonico, a non-profit organization designed to promote tourism in the Amazon Basin of South America. After some years of geocaching networking in Ecuador we decided to move into the Amazon region in order to promote the sport/game and at the same time provide periodic small business opportunities for some of the tribal people in areas of touristic interest. We are at work trying to extend the game through several countries. Our experience in the mountains of Ecuador with geocaching started out slowly. When we started caching back in 2007 you could count the number of geocaches within several hundred miles of where we lived on one hand. Things have changed now. We started by placing caches in key places of touristic interest as well as in the Metropolitan Park overlooking the Quito. Most of the time we placed caches with the average tourist in mind. Travel bug hotels needed to be highly accessible to a tourist who only has a short while to grab a taxi and get to the park before having to return to his hotel or to the airport. "If you building it they will come" was the famous line from the movie Field of Dreams. I can't say that by placing caches we necessarily increased the number of tourist coming into the country but we definitely attracted some of those coming to the country to the caches. After a short time I started getting contacts from Europe and the US wanting to meet up with me and go geocaching. To me this was one of the highlights of my geocaching experience while there. Then the field broadened to include several more Ecuadorians. This happened a computer programmer and an Ecuadorian Army officer became interested in GPS technology and found geocaching. When they began finding and hiding caches we began to see an expansion of the sport into some great locations of interest to tourist. I say all this because I dream of seeing something similar happen in the Amazon Basin. It may take a while but this is our hope! Stay tuned to Andean Trekker (yeah, I am keeping the name because we are going to try to keep both the high and low country in our sights). I would welcome any ideas you might have to how to promote geocaching and tourism in the Amazon region of Ecuador, Brazil, Colombia, Bolivia and Peru. We have some ideas and will soon be meeting with the municipal leaders in one of the larger Amazonian towns to discuss our ideas.
Intercoastal Waterway with Barefoot Landing Resort
My ladies with the Shady Lady
This year´s vacation to the beach took us to North Myrtle Beach. We didn´t get to come last year so it was nice to be with two of our three daughters. It was the first time to the beach for our two-year old grandson so you can imagine the fun we were having watching him play in the sand and water. While my son-in-law programmed time for fishing at one of two nearby piers, I programmed in time each day to get out and do some geocaching. Here are a few of the highlights. Most of the caches along the beach were difficult to get to due to parking restrictions. To get to the sparse number of caches along the beach I would recommend having a bike. I tried to get at a few and gave up. It was easier to stick with the caches along The King´s Highway (Highway 17) where there were businesses that afford the opportunity to park. That put most of my caching between The King´s Highway and the Intercoastal Waterway further inland. Most were fairly straight forward and easy micros. A few were tricky. For instance The Hidden Village Sculpture Park (GCYG3X), with art such as ¨The Reaper¨, had me looking in the wrong place until I went back and read the cache page again. The clue was there. Lots of the caches required ¨stealth¨. I sometimes think what they require is conspicuity, a willingness to standout and be seen if that is what it takes to find the cache. One cache that required me to be conspicuous was Roadside Giant Conch (GC3BK35). Take a look at the size of this seashell. I just had to get a photo of my wife and youngest daughter at the Shady Lady (GC3PW9H) cache. I enjoyed finding a letterbox hybrid cache that was located behind a real US Post Office. It was called ¨Got¨Mail? (GC1PBP0). Probably the highlight of my caching experience on the strand was my encounter with Herbie the golf ball collector. I like caches spread out along bike or hiking trails. The Perin Bike Trail in Myrtle Beach had four caches. I walked or ran the trail in search of these caches. I had to park my car in a business parking lot replete with towing warnings. I didn´t see a choice so I too the risk. After signing the log at the first cache I stepped out of the woods onto the bike path unintentionally startling a bike rider. He hollered a ¨hello¨and kept on his way. I didn´t think I´d see him again. About a half mile up the trail I exited the trail, crossed a sand berm and saw the shoreline of a small lake. It was a pretty location. I began the search for Lizard Isle - Lizards Like Trails (GC3BWJM). I was beating around at ground level looking for a large plastic lizard or something like that when of to my right rear I hear the words, ¨Do you want a beer?¨ At first I thought this had to be another cacher. As the fellow stepped out from behind a tree I saw his bike and recognized him as the fellow I´d startled earlier. He had a beer in hand and was resting by the lake. It became evident that he was a muggle so I had no choice but to explain what I was doing. He had participated in Orienteering in the army so he could relate a little. Herbie makes his living in the summer months collecting golf balls from along the edge of the greenways and selling them back. He travels by bicycle up and down the east coast to golf resorts to collect and re-sell golf balls. He was friendly and we had a good chat before I pushed on. I really enjoyed my time at the beach and the opportunity to find some more hidden treasures.
We enjoyed our time in Pucallpa, Peru. There are only a few geocaches there but we think that will change as tourism increases in the area and as a few local geocachers start the work of building up the sport in the Peruvian jungle. We got a taste of the Peruvian "selva" not only as we learned to coped with the hot, humid weather but also as we ventured out to try some of their typical regional foods during the 123rd anniversary celebration for the city. In a sports complex called "Sport Loreto" about four blocks from the center of the city different culinary schools from the several universities plus some private enterprises were serving up some pretty good plates. We tried the Noodles and chicken in red sauce accompanied with huancaino potatoes. It was good! The special aji (hot sauce) added to the heat of the day. Probably my favorite was a soup. Its kind of strange to eat a hot soup on a hot day but there you are. We came back a second day to try the Inchicapi, a chicken soup made with a base of peanut sauce, cilantro and yuca. I like anything with a peanut flavor. I can do without the cilantro though. The jungle tribes frequently raise peanuts along the river banks in order to make soups and sauces. These are particularly good over boiled potatoes. Another dish is Rice with smoked pork. You get a nice cut of pork accompanied by green plantain prepared in the shape of a ball on the grill. Patarashca, is a common jungle tribal meal prepared with a whole fish wrapped in a large biajo leaf used for tamales and cooked over a fire. Another is Juanes, also utilizes the biajo leaf which is filled with rice, eggs and chicken, tied up and boiled in a large pot of water. So much food and so little time to try it out. If you get the chance to visit Pucallpa be sure and visit during either June when the region celebrates San Juan or come during the city's anniversary the week around 13 October. Check out the food and the jungle city geocaches!