Editor’s note: Groundspeak Lackeys are traveling thousands of miles from H.Q. throughout the year to share smiles, shake hands, and make geocaching memories at nearly twenty Mega-Events worldwide. Arne Moen, aka, RandolphAgarn, attended the Lisbon, Portugal Mega-Event 12 years Geocaching – Portugal (GC35GH8). Arne has been a Lackey since 2009 and is a Software Developer. Here’s Arne’s account of his trip.
Written By: Arne Moen
I was in Lisbon, Portugal to celebrate 12 Years Geocaching Portugal with local geocachers.
I was delighted to meet all these geocachers from Portugal. Of course, I knew that there are geocachers all over the world. But to talk to them in person about FTF’s (First to Finds), Multi-Caches, and Trackables in person made it all more real.
Everyone was very kind to me and I was excited to give away some Geocaching.com merchandise like Trackable tags. I strongly suspect I would have felt equally welcome without the swag. I met many interesting individuals and some really sweet dogs. I met a geologist who was born in Mozambique, an underwater archeologist, an Olympic athlete, a C-130 pilot, a cartographer, and many more individuals whose backgrounds we didn’t discuss. Each one of them was a treat to talk to.
While chatting with a geocacher, I recalled that a significant amount of the world’s cork – as in a bottle or on a bulletin board – comes from Portugal. I had heard that it was the bark of a tree. Though I had seen a lot of bark in my lifetime and I couldn’t imagine how the thing in the wine bottle was attached to the outside of a tree.
I mentioned this to my new geocacher friend. He told me cork trees can be found all over Portugal and immediately set off trying to find one in the park. A few minutes later he returned to bring me to a cork tree. The bark was thick, and firm yet spongy. And suddenly I could see where cork comes from.
I found a couple of geocaches at the Mega-Event. But my first evening in Portugal I went out and found some geocaches with some new friends.
We began our evening with a traditional Portuguese meal: cod, ham, and fried potatoes, covered with a kind of hollandaise sauce. We also enjoyed “vinho verde,” which means green wine in Portuguese. The greenness in this case is in reference to the newness of the wine. The grapes had been picked, squeezed and fermented in the last year.
After our meal the four of use set out into the streets of Lisbon looking for geocaches. This was in an old neighborhood, between the eleventh century castle perched on the hill, and the Rio Tejo, the river from which some of the great explorers like Ferdinand Magellan and Vasco da Gama began their voyages of discovery.
We started in front of an old cathedral across the street from our restaurant. There was a geocache, Catedral (GCZWBV), just down the street. As the guest, I was allowed to make the first attempt. I was nervous with three experienced geocachers watching me. I was still suffering the affects of from jet lag. I skipped over the geocache at first, then found it a few seconds later.
The next geocache, Portas do Sol (GC1F9NG), was in a little square that overlooked the river. We took several seconds to enjoy the view before looking for the geocache. We found the geocache in one spot and a second log book in another. This was my 100th find and my furthest find east of my home coordinates. It was a fantastic spot to hit a milestone.
Then we went down the hill towards the plaza at the site of the former royal palace. This area of town was relatively new. An earthquake and tsunami wiped out this neighborhood in 1755 so it had to be rebuilt. We knew exactly where the next geocache, No Paço do Terreiro [Lisboa] (GC13Z3E), was hidden from a spoiler photo. Before we were finished signing the log, a police offer walked up to ask us what kind of tomfoolery we were engaged in.
I felt like I was back in high school, getting caught by an authority figure. Here we were, four adult men, each with full lives running around downtown in the middle of the night. Isn’t there something more we should doing with our lives? No, it turns out. We were having an adventure. What could be better than that? We explained we were geocaching. He told us he knew what that was and let us replace the cache and let us go about our evening.
All of the caches we found that night were traditional urban micros. They were good geocaches. But the food, the company, the hunt, the adventure that evening, and the Mega-Event experience, made my trip magical.