“All you need is love,” The Beatles
100espinhos, a small but dedicated geocaching team from Portugal, had an important revelation back in 2014: the world needs more love and geocaching is one way to help spread it. For the past several years, they have fully embraced the movement, throwing three 500+ geocacher events— all full of “Love Love.”
“We organize these Megas because we love geocaching and believe that the game brings immense joy to people’s lives,” said Tiago, one of the 100espinhos. “There’s nothing more powerful than friendships, smiles, and love.”
And it worked. Through their events, they’ve created an inspiring community of geocachers, all dedicated to the game and the love initiative.
In August, I was lucky enough to experience the latest edition of the Love Love Mega series, GC60WBP.The event I attended was held in beautiful Braga, a historic and postcard-perfect city in northern Portugal. It was a long journey from Seattle to Braga but after two six hour flights and a three hour train ride, I had arrived in what I considered geocaching paradise. The event would be four days jam-packed with geocaching activities, Signal the Frog, Lab Caches, mini-excursions throughout the city, and plenty of love-filled community moments. I felt like I was twelve years old again, off to my favorite summer camp… not sure what to expect but unbelievably happy to be there.
Whatever your geo-heart desired over the next four days, Love Love provided. The main event space was in a large auditorium where daily workshops, trackable exchanges, creative container competitions, vendor shopping, and dance classes took place. There was an ongoing CITO initiative where used bottle caps were collected (tampinhas in Portuguese) from event-goers—all bottle cap proceeds went towards a wheelchair for a little girl battling a rare disease. In addition to the main space, there were side events planned every day throughout the city where you could take in the city’s main attractions while geocaching. If you didn’t feel like participating in one of the planned outings, you could relax at the swimming pool or visit a nearby museum—all free of cost. Everything was very well organized and laid out, all I had to do was embrace the love and have a grand ol’ time!
Every day was a treat, but the meal times were my favorite. I truly enjoyed the time I spent relaxing, sipping on vinho verde, and chatting with different groups of geocachers while tasting the local cuisine. Their geocaching stories and dedication to the game truly inspired me. Note: There are so many epic geocaches in Portugal that you must plan several return trips to experience them all.
Other highlights from the weekend included a fireworks show, meeting the VP mayor of Braga and an Olympic athlete who had just returned from Rio, taking 500+ photos (no exaggeration), CITO-ing, trying Peddy Paper for the first time, finding two T5 caches (one in a cave and one on an island), high-fiving Signal (many times), eating way too many Portuguese pastries and making lots of new friends.
After the event, I spent a couple days in Lisboa, eating more pastries (I’m currently detoxing) and wandering the streets. I also had the opportunity to meet the incredible Portuguese reviewers for a nice dinner. For being a relatively small country, Portugal has nearly 40,000 active caches, and the community volunteer reviewer team does an amazing job supporting the growth of the game and the community.
What more can I say? My trip to Portugal was very special and one that I will never forget. The community, the hosts, the country, and the geocaching adventures were extraordinary. To fully understand “the love,” you must experience it for yourself. Next year’s event is in Oporto (August 11-13th), another magical city in the north. See you there!