Geocaching

Qolla Safra: GC5CJB4

The magrelinha does the finding, I do the posing!

The magrelinha does the finding, I do the posing!

Qolla Safra – the Q in Qolla rises from deep within the throat and is then spat out, together with the loose rubble of an O, double L and A.

Qolla Safra – a formation of yellow earth that emerges from the dry soil and scattered stones that surround it.

Qolla Safra – also known, in a cold and anonymous manner that belies the raw nature of its constituent elements, as GC5CJB4.

Qolla Safra – one of the fifty or so geocaches that lie within the boundaries of a seriously undulating landscape that protrudes in a rude but beautiful manner from the central Mediterranean.

Last year, on the 30th May according to the records, Qolla Safra became our first attempt at geocaching. That we were newbies to the activity is borne out by the fact that we set off from our accommodation in Marsalforn without any equipment that would help us locate the cache. All we had were the words Qolla Safra and an assumption (false, as it turned out and to which I claim full ownership) that it had to be at the top of that formation. I have been losing my head for heights with the passing of the years yet, driven by the desire to be baptised in this outdoor activity, I made a serious effort to scramble onwards and upwards as we followed the steep and twisting path. To her credit, my wife and fellow eager geocaching newbie seemed less daunted by the route we were taking. Eventually we did reach the peak and, once there, all worries of having to make an equally crumbly and sharp descent were exchanged for the exhilaration felt at the uninterrupted view that encircled us. We stood and stared to our eyes’ delight.

With that trophy in our cupboard of experiences, we set about the serious business we had come here for. The area at the top might have been restricted but the cracks and crevices were many. Heads down and knees bent, our fingers led the exploration of all the possible cubby holes, some protected by jagged edges or shrubs. We crawled over this hill like two demented termites, driven on by my idea that the cache had to be up there. Looking back now I wonder what people gazing at the Qolla Safra must have made of the bizarre scene we were spontaneously acting out on that elevated stage. The more we looked and the more we failed at finding it, the more determined we became; though the hiding places were multiple, they weren’t infinite, so we laboured on. Eventually, with tiredness and frustration setting in as the sun slowly started its own setting procedures, we held an emergency summit. The unanimous decision was to soak in some more of that vista and then call it quits.

Back at base camp that evening, I consulted the Qolla Safra geocache description and map and, to my humiliation, discovered that I had missed the obvious – there was no need to ascend the hill because the cache was on the lower reaches. Disappointed, I still logged this first attempt but had to put it down as a DNF (Did Not Find). Who would have thought that “first” can be a synonym for failure?

But time has healing powers, as does fortitude. It took us a year to revisit Gozo but in less than a quarter-of-an-hour we were signing the Qolla Safra’s logbook. It was the magrelinha who ferreted it out, her keen eye having observed a collection of stones which appeared to be more than just a random assortment of broken rock. One year on and we were celebrating the geocache which introduced us to this interesting, at times physically demanding, activity.

Qolla Safra – proudly added to the favourites list by magrelinhos.com!

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