Cobus van Bosch
From Get It Magazine
Vol3 Issue 15 2009/2010
 

Unearthing a Kentridge

Modern day treasure hunters, Cape Town artists Cobus van Bosch of Tamboerskloof and Arlene Amaler-Raviv of Woodstock, reveal some secrets of geocaching, the modern day hide-and-seek adventure that’s flaring up all over the globe. By Nelia Vivier.

Hidden somewhere on the slopes of Table Mountain, lies a scuffed metal box containing a strange collection of items, collectively called the Heritage Cache. Selected by visual artists from all over South Africa, buried beneath a hefty rock and its content secret, these unusual ‘objects d’art’ echo the heritage of southern Africa from time immemorial to today.

“The challenge is for you and other budding explorers to find it,” teases Cobus, mischievously wriggling his bushy eyebrows at me. Heritage Cache is his and Arlene Amaler-Raviv’s novel take on geocaching, a high tech version of good old-fashioned treasure hunting he stumbled upon two years ago while surfing the net.

“The concept of geocaching is simple,” he explains. “Co-ordinates are posted on the worldwide web and hunters are invited to use a GPS (Global Positioning System) unit or ordinary map to find a hidden container filled with various items.

“The caches (read good old secret treasure hot spots) vary in content. The idea is that you find it, inspect it and add your own items to a collection if you so wish.” Unlike the good old days when Indiana Jones roamed the earth, you cannot hoard your find, but have to hide it again on exactly the same spot where you found it.

Logging unto www.geocaching.com, and discovering 1 600 sites in South Africa alone, and 720 000 global sites, you quickly grasp why the two artists describe geocaching as a fast growing international cult activity.

Since 2000 when American Dave Ulmer hid a bucket of trinkets in the woods outside Portland, Oregon, caches have popped up in over 200 countries - in village squares, underwater, at the South Pole and closer to home, even in Ronny’s Sex Shop near Barrydale, courtesy of Cow n Chicken, in real life cacher couple Jean and Andre Gouws from Durbanville.

On the virtual logbooks, there’s a flurry of excited jottings, as hunters joyously post the fact that they found a cache, compare notes, review treasures, share stories and post pics online. “Where the heck is it?” laments Robin and family on the Heritage log, only to joyously report a month later, “Yeah, found it on the second try. Talk about not seeing the wood for the trees.”

CapeDoc proclaims “A very different cache! Interesting how everyday objects can be put together to mean much more and give a reflection of the times we live in. (If one of the objects was smoked I am sure one could become even more reflective!). I enjoyed the stroll and views.” He signs of with an enigmatic ‘TFTC’ (meaning Thanks for the Cache), just one of many insider terms us muggles, people who don’t indulge in geocaching and more often than not are quite puzzled, if not dumbfounded when accidentally stumbling unto such a site.
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“Therein lays the allure of the adventure,” says Arlene. “You do feel like a spy or Enid Blyton’s Famous Five when you enter this world or mystery and adventure.” Cobus, professing that he feels more like a pirate, says it was also the idea of appreciating and enjoying nature that hooked him. More importantly, when he first told Arlene about the game, they came up with the idea of giving the adult adventure escapade an arty twist.

What followed, after hectic e-mailing to top local artists, first explaining what the heck they were going on about, then some serious persuasion, was a unique collaboration between artists like William Kentridge, Willie Bester and Brett Murray to mention but a few.A few months later, the ‘armchair nature lovers’, having wisely decided theirs was to be a 20 minutes quest, venture forth in sturdy boots, a borrowed GPS, torch light and a bottle of old brown sherry to fortify them en route.

Inside the treasure box they furtively schlepped up Signal Hill, on a rainy day, each of the eclectic objects, ranging from a West Coast snoek bait dollie, a buck’s horn, vuvuzela, All Gold tin of mixed veggies to a Zim dollar, had a note attached to it, explaining the symbolism and meaning behind it.“It’s a complete survival kit, including a bottle of vino and them some,” jokes Cobus. “Strangely enough, not an item has gone missing and people post the most amazing musings on the little notebook we tucked in for good measure. How weird and wonderful that virtual reality is luring people out into the real world of forests and lakes?”

“It’s incredible that something quite profound grew from such a wacky idea,” adds Arlene. “For us it has become a serious contribution to create awareness among folks who normally won’t visit art galleries – something educational kids can relate to outside the confines of classrooms. Soon the arty geocachers will wend they way to Joh’burg, as they are busy co-ordinating another arty quest, this time round with new artists and a cache hidden inside a cell of the old Joh’burg prison.

Inside the Heritage cache 21 objects chosen by artists William Kentridge, Diane Victor, Willem Boshoff, Lien Botha, Willie Bester, Brett Murray, Churchill Madikida, Gordon Froud, Raymond Smith, Cobus van Bosch, Arlene Amaler-Raviv, Sanell Aggenbagh, Dale Udelman, Norman O’Flynn, Liza Grobler, Conrad Botes, Andrew Porter, Kevin Brand, Adrienne van Eeden, Inge du Plessis and Leonard Wichtmann.

Before you go

  • Make sure that you are well versed in the rules of geocaching.
  • Check the terrain and difficulty ratings as caches are graded from easy adventures to quite strenuous hikes.
  • Distances, depending on trails, rivers and other obstacles, can be deceiving.
  • Pack supplies such as water, food, extra clothing, space blanket and small first aid kit.
  • Take a GPS, little note book and pen, compass, garden gloves and trowel along.
  • For safety, let someone know where you are going.
  • Do not forget extra batteries for your GPS.
  • Many caches come with a map for those who don’t have a GPS.
  • Buy a handheld GPS device from Cape Union Mart in the V&A *021-425-4559, Blue Route Mall, Tokai *021-715-8470, Canal Walk *021-555-2846 and Tyger Valley Centre *021-914-1441
  • The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Geocaching is available from www.amazon.com
  • The longitude and latitude co-ordinates of the spot where the Heritage Cache can be found:18° 23’40.10 E and 33° 56’54.88S.
  • The Heritage Cache is listed on the website www.geocaching.com or e-mail cobus@polka.co.za