domingo, 30 de junho de 2013

Entrevista para o Secret Madeira

Interview with geocacher Luis Ruben de Freitas

Posted by  on June 29, 2013
This week we are featuring an interview with Luís Rúben de Freitas aka Luísftas. Luís is Madeiran, and his work is related to educational technologies. His free time is largely devoted to the outdoors: hiking, geocaching and canyoning.
Cache Garganta Funda, Madeira
Cache Garganta Funda, Madeira
Luís, we want to thank you for giving us the opportunity to have a ‘peek’ into your relationship with the Green Pearl of the Atlantic also known as Madeira. Can you please tell us a little bit more about yourself?
My relationship with Madeira is a happy marriage. Madeira has been the perfect couple, giving me shelter and good living conditions. That would be enough, but no… it exceeded my desires and frequently shows me how wonderful it can be, slowly uncovering its deepest secrets. It is always ready to receive me from a tiring week of work and fill up my batteries. One of Madeira’s slogans can describe it very well: Body. Mind. Madeira.
Lets talk about your ‘passion’ which is geocaching. But first … what is geocaching? 
According to the geocaching website: “Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game using GPS-enabled devices. Participants navigate to a specific set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find the geocache (container) hidden at that location.”
Luís, how did you discovered geocaching and what excites you the most in this activity?
I was already a hiking enthusiast and was invited by some friends to accompany them in their geocaching adventures. It was not love at first sight, but when I started doing it at my own rhythm, enjoying the landscape, taking photos, making videos … I became addicted. Soon I realized that this hobby offered me the chance to discover new locations, traditions, cultural curiosities. That is what excites me about geocaching: The opportunity to learn!

“Don’t you ever think that you have seen it all and done it all. I haven’t …”

Is geocaching a sport or a hobby? And what kind of people does geocache?
Geocaching for me is hobby. There is a competitive side to it but it all depends on your approach towards the activity.
It is hard to define a typical geocacher. The wide variety of geocaches (some urban, some on the woods, some with an easy access, some on difficult terrain) makes geocaching an activity for everybody.
What kind of equipment do you need? Can anyone one do geocaching?
The only thing that you need is to register on geocaching.com (It’s free!) and have a GPS or a smartphone with a GPS receiver. There are some applications that you can install on your smartphone that will help you a lot.
When was geocaching introduced on Madeira island? And how popular is it these days?
The first geocache in Madeira was published in 11/07/2001 by a Swedish tourist. It was called “SpaceAce #3″ and it was located in Levada dos Piornais (Lido). It had few visitors and was archived in 2003.
Pico Arieiro, Madeira
Pico Arieiro, Madeira
In 2004 geocaching was reborn with 5 new geocaches. 2 of these are still active: “Vaca” in Paúl da Serra and “Curral” in Eira do Serrado viewpoint.
In 2005 the first cache in Porto Santo was created: “The Prophet”.
All these geocaches were being created by tourists or by tourists that started living in Madeira.
Madeirans slowly started getting acquainted with geocaching and the first geocache created by a madeiran was “Praia das Fontes” by johnsbar, only in 2010. Since then the number of madeirans has been increasing greatly and with them, the number of geocaches.
The increasing number of smartphone users has helped in the growth of geocachers.
Having as a reference the discussion group in Facebook, I would say that there are now over 550 Madeiran Geocachers. 29.000 in Portugal. Over 5 million worldwide.
Cache Cais de São Jorge, Madeira
Cache Cais de São Jorge, Madeira
Then Madeira Island must be an ideal place to do some challenging geocaching. Do you agree?
Madeira is definitely a great location for geocaching. There are great challenges that would surely please the most demanding geocachers.
In Madeira there is a great variety of caches to select according to your age, physical condition, likes and time availability.
In your opinion, is geocaching the (best) ticket to discover the best places on the island and enjoy in full all the extra beauty that Madeira has to offer? 
At this moment Madeira has over 800 active geocaches. Considering the average time that tourists spend in our island it is impossible for them to find them all, or even to find a significant number. So I would not say that it is a way to discover the best places, I would say that it is developing into being a list of all the interesting places in the island. It is not a “best of”, it is a menu where you have plenty of options to choose from. The big advantage is that it shows some hidden secrets that tourists won’t find in their typical guidebooks. Through all the information that is given on the caches webpage and with the provided coordinates, tourists also become more autonomous.

“Number of caches on Madeira Island: 801, Porto Santo: 49, Desertas: one and Selvagens: one”

(June 2013)
How many caches are there on Madeira? Any cache on Porto Santo also?
At the moment that I’m writing, this is the number of geocaches:
  • Madeira Island: 801
  • Porto Santo: 49
  • Desertas: 1
  • Selvagens: 1
These numbers are constantly growing and changing with the regular creation of new geocaches and with the discontinuance of others.
As a means of comparison, the district of Lisbon has 5.158 geocaches. In Portugal 30.980. Over 2 Million Worldwide.
Luís, you already practiced geocaching in Portugal as well as abroad, for example in Spain and Denmark. How do you compare geocaching on Madeira with those countries?
Geocaching in Madeira is similar in terms of the containers and types of geocaches that you can find, but it is unique in its landscape. I believe that this is what makes geocaching in Madeira special.
Do you have a favorite cache? And can you tell us more about it?
I have found almost 700 caches. Which is a humble number considering the fact that some portuguese geocachers have found more than 10 000. Nevertheless, it is hard to choose a favorite. I have several memorable experiences. My favorites involve discovering a great place and all the adventure involved in getting there. Naturally our companions are important, as sharing these experiences with others makes them richer and more permanent.
What is ‘Geo Tourist Friendly’?
A Geo Tourist Friendly geocache is a cache that is located in an area that is considered to be of interest to tourists.
Bocas das Voltas, Madeira
Bocas das Voltas, Madeira
Last but not least … what advice would you give to travelers visiting Madeira who wants to do some geocaching? 
If it’s your first time in Madeira, I would select the most interesting places in the Island and search for the caches along the way.
If you are a frequent visitor and already know much of the top places in the island then you can search for geocaches that show you more unknown locations.
Don’t you ever think that you have seen it all and done it all. I haven’t…
More of Madeira Geocaching (and Luís aka luisftas) can be found at …

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