Well, I have a bit of a confession to make here.
For the last two years, I have cheerfully taken the piss out of people who go geocaching. I had to look up what it was first of course, because I had never heard of it. I mean, why would anyone in their right mind go ferreting about in the undergrowth looking for pots of tacky rubbish masquerading as treasure?
To be specific, I have particularly taken the piss out of one of my internet friends who regularly goes caching. As some readers will know, I even set up a fictional blog to write about his really boring anoraky hobby.
I should give him credit, he’s never complained about my endless digs and sarcasm. If he has got fed up – he’s never told me. Anyway, this blog is not about him (even if the other one was) it’s about ME.
There are a handful of caches here on Gibraltar, so last year – or maybe the year before – I decided to see if I could find them, without using a GPS. After all, one of the reasons I thought it was a very silly hobby, is that it involves buying a consumerist techy gadget. I see no reason why people can’t stick to maps and compasses.
So I clambered up the Rock to Devil’s Gap. On more than one occasion. In the end I stopped looking for the tat treasure and just enjoyed the walk anyway. I wandered down to Europa Point and couldn’t find the treasure there either. Lesson No 1. It is easy enough to get to the location but finding the tat treasure is another matter.
Partner said loftily that he bet he could find the treasure at Devil’s Gap – but did he ever come with me? No.
Fast forward somewhat. Partner unexpectedly had the weekend off work and although we initially planned on going back to the finca I thought I would suggest something different. So on Saturday we investigated the – limited – choice of GPS units for sale in Gib. I went back to the computer and looked them all up to decide which would be suitable – and vfm of course.
We then went back to the shop and I prevaricated between two models. Eventually the shop guy said I could take the cheaper one, use it over the weekend and if I wasn’t happy, I could go back and upgrade on Monday. Seemed a fair deal to me, so we bought a Garmin GPSmap 60Cx. C for coloured screen and x for memory card – for anyone interested.
There are quite a few caches in nearby Spain, so I took down the details, transferred the co-ordinates to the clever new machine, and Sunday’s trip was planned.
After a slight delay at the frontier where the Guarda Civil decided that we looked like a suspicious pair in a scruffy vehicle that clearly was hiding a ton of smuggled cigarettes, and they poked around the Land Rover until they decided they weren’t going to find anything, we set off towards Algeciras.
It’s a pretty straightforward road but my planned getting-to-know-the-GPS time didn’t happen as I was also The Navigator. Given that our Spanish map book seems to have disappeared into the ether, and I didn’t know what I was doing with the GPS, all we had to go on were my scribbled-down notes.
Well, they were excellent. The directions, I mean, not my scribbled notes, and we arrived at the gates of Parque Centennial without any problems at all. So next – the treasure hunt.
Being over-ambitious, we were attempting a multi-cache. This is where you go to different stages to get clues for the final location. Well, I think that’s what it is.
The weather was glorious, and after going to the first stage, we just wandered round the park and then explored some ruins.
The clue to the treasure was that it was hidden under a big stone. Or in Spanish, baja la piedra grande which could also be under the big rock. We aimlessly turned over every stone in sight – there were a lot at the ruins. At this point we hadn’t got the final location, so we were grasping at straws, or rather rocks.
I decided we needed to be more systematic and off we went to the second stage to get the final clue. Now, I almost had the final co-ordinates. Eventually I worked out I should have put a zero in front of the last set of numbers. We were set. Or we would be if I could work out how to enter a set of co-ordinates.
So, here we were with our known destination, but I couldn’t key it in, so couldn’t programme the thing to tell us how to get there. I decided the idiot’s way to do this was to keep repeatedly checking our location – I could manage that – and moving a few feet in the relevant direction so that we ended up nearer to the desired spot.
Eventually we got there – but could we find the treasure? Of course not. After half an hour of beating about in the undergrowth, poking into crevices, turning over huge boulders, and generally behaving like all those silly idiots who I had previously mocked mercilessly, we gave up. We don’t like giving up, and I was convinced we had the right spot.
Plans for retrieving other caches en route dissolved. To fail once was bad enough, but a second failure would be no fun at all. Tarifa and her beautiful beaches beckoned.
(More Tarifa pix on Just Landy blog)
Part 2 to follow…..