On an unseasonably cold day at the end of September, I reluctantly br a v e d r u s h- hou r Sandton traffic on my way to an unknown location. A feeling of dread took hold of me as the GPS closed in on the spot, just off Rivonia road. I had no idea what I was doing. Two commuters waiting for a taxi stared as I started investigating a miniature replica of the Eiffel Tower. I don’t blame them. In Johannesburg it’s hard enough to trust people who are not behaving oddly on the side of the road.
I unenthusiastically dug the toe of my sequinned work shoe into the dirt underneath Little Eiffel, but realised immediately how stupid this was. The clue said I wouldn’t have to do any digging. A huge, bright red ceramic bull stared dully out over my shoulder and I started to wonder if the clue was an attempt at misdirection. I looked at the clue again. “A hole under Paris,” it said.
The little treasure I f inally pulled out is a piece of paper inside a small container, but it might as well have been an enormous diamond. Names and dates are scribbled in tiny letters across the paper. I added my name to the list, put it back in the hole under Paris and logged my first Geocache. I was filled with an inexplicable sense of accomplishment.
Geocaching is essentially a treasure hunt for grownups (and kids, provided grownups drive them). A complete stranger hides something in a certain location and shares the GPS coordinates with the Geocaching community. You then use your GPS to find the location and follow the clues to f ind the hidden object. You add your name to the log and move on to the next one. The point? Discovery, not of Geocache objects, unless you have a weird obsession with small toys, but of the wonders of the outside world. Norman and Deanna Bowman (or t eam i Pajero, as t hey’re known i n t he Geocaching