Chasing numbers – O Camiño

What a better way of coming back to your own country by doing the same as you did when you left?

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Some of the Camiños

I decided to do the Santiago Pilgrim’s way, O Camiño de Santiago, in Galician; is one of the most popular walks in Europe, and also all over the world, because of its history, landscapes and people hospitality. For spiritual reasons, millions of people from all over the world do it every year, coming some times thousands of kilometers walking or biking (mainly walking), for different reasons: religious, self-conscience, history, etc.

The main reasons to do it for me was the meaning of it and Galicia, my mother region, my home, where I’m safe. The idea to walk towards that place, just motivates me and makes me feel like at home. To enjoy the journey and the people around.

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This time it was special as well. The way has been highly refurbished and it was very different from last time, specially the markers or mojones along the way. One of the things I noticed, are the numbers. I do have that thing with numbers, when they are funny and special. The mojones are located on every path crossing, to mark the right way, or in unsuspected places, that you look and think: well… I don’t really need a mojon here.

It’s highly likely that it is a special mojon. I found lots of prime numbers, or funny of them, here are some below. To the excitement of the Camiño itself, for me, this time, had a special incentive, to find the next special number!! They mark the distance to Plaza d’Obradoiro, where Santiago Cathedral is located, and is the end of your way.

They all mean something, or maybe… you can find meaning on everything!

Always follow the shell…

The first one I saw was the pint 137,138 km, this is when I realized there was something going on. Unfortunately, I don’t have a photo of it.

There are some numbers below that I haven’t identified yet, but hope you can help me! I think they are hiding something…. Post in the comments!!!

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Undentified yet, but it has a 14 and a 69
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Unidentified
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Maybe too many 9’s… 19 is prime!
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2s and 7s!!!
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30 – 400!!!!
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Sounds weird to me…
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30 30!!!
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There must be something…
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PRIME NUMBER!!!!!
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PRIME NUMBER!!!!!
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Why do you look special…. ?
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6… 3… 2… 3×2=6
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6!!! 7!!!!
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8… 9… 0…
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8… 7… 0… let’s play with 0’s it’s the joker
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You must have something….
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84 84!
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Everybody can be special
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hummm….
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102,101 !!!!!
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Sphere!
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124,124!!!

 

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And I also found some other geometrical forms on the way!!

 

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New tools to explore? Geocaching!

 

Some people may not consider it exploration, as if as I learnt in the last two years, a place that contains a cache, it’s largely already explored in New Zealand. This area is one of those places that there are still complete islands, without one cache! For the geocaching lovers, specially in Europe, that’s a dream!

For those who don’t know what geocaching is, there is a really good description below.

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What’s your hobby?

I personally use it to discover new places, and also to learn something about the place I’m at. I’ve discovered really good hidden spots because of this! One of my recent hidden gems is the Pararaha stream. It is not marked on any of the walking/tracking maps by Department of Conservation in New Zealand, because could be a bit tricky sometimes, specially when it has been raining. But it’s not closed to public either! So you don’t have to worry about breaking permissions.

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Spot the route!

If you look carefully in the map, you it’s quite obvious that there’s a clear defined line of caches, that should follow a route, and it’s not a marked track.

It turned out it was a great day on the Waitakeres, descending the Pararaha stream, with great scenery and a few tricky passes over rocks and waterfalls.

Technical details:

Distance: 14.9km

Duration: 4h 52m

Total ascent: 709m

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The final track

Diving between volcanos I – The roaring

Saltwater and freshwater, it seems that I´ve been into volcanos for a long time, including active ones, yes ACTIVE! I had the opportunity to dive in both of these geological features (over the last year), as well as between tectonic plates, and caves, and some other geologically interesting places, but let’s concentrate for now here on the roaring stuff.

There are 62 active volcanos in the world, or at least, with eruptions and/or eruption warnings. Not many of them are actually diveable, and one is in New Zealand: Whakaari, ’that which can be made visible’. Whakaari was sent from Hawaiki – traditional homeland of the Māori – as a gift of fire to warm an ancient high priest named Ngatoroirangi, rescued by his sisters coming from the sea, with the fierce of fire, and creating Whakaari where they first surfaced. The island was named White Island by Captain Cook after the cloud on top of it.

Whakaari is located 50 km offshore of Whakatane, exposed to all the weather calamities on the pacific ocean, and on the edge of Bay of Plenty sheltering. It is a continuously active marine volcano, changing its landscape completely within less than a year, due to eruptions and thermal activity. On some of the dive sites everyone can see the bubbles emerging from the bottom as well as warm water around, being heated by the volcano activity. Aren´t these features good enough to attract divers from all over the world?

On a good day, from Whakatane, one can see the white smoke emerging from a dark spot on the horizon when you board the vessel that will take you to one of the few diveable active volcanos in the world, and a land iceberg, with only 4 square kilometers surface above the water versus three hundred breadth on the seafloor.

The journey starts by preparing the dive gear, and with plenty of time to plan the dive, with a two hours boat ride to the site. On a really marvelous day, you can get to dive Laison´s pinnacle, which starts at -13m going down to -250m on the bottom, and there´s no hell below this volcano but a vertical wall full of kelp and big, really big sea life. The first impression is that everything around there is dramatic, and by dramatic I mean either the landscape above the water, with huge formations due to the eruptions along the years and the erosion of the sea, and underwater, all the fish are double the size that closer to the land.

Perhaps this area is not so demanding for fishing, as it is far from the shore and the boats need to time the weather to get there.

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The dive site, when weather permits, is an easy dive, just dropping down to the maximum desired depth and spiraling the pinnacle up to 12 m, ascending along the line. Statistics and dive map are shown below. In case there are some current, most of the sea life will just sit there, waiting for food to come to them, as per the geological features of the reef, you can play with the current by sitting on different sides of the rock and see another variety of sea life, like small nudibranch and kelp.

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On the surface interval, navigating around the island, the sulphur on the ground mixes with the salt water, leaving a yellow towards blue, passing by green color to the landscape. I´m not sure if I wanted to take my dive gear into that “water”. And behind this scene is the volcano crater, with all sulphur, acids and ashes, making you think for a moment that you have a scene of the moon in front of your eyes.

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On the second dive we went to “The Fumaroles” with the hope of seeing the famous bubbles with no luck. The dive was yet amazing, full of kelp and sea life, completing by the emerging with a view of volcano fumes and sulphur.

On the way back, a pod of hundreds of dolphins, played with the boat, and jumped around on a circle of at least half a mile, not stopping jumping, playing and following the boat for about an hour. The trip was organized by Western Underwater Dive Club from Auckland, and we share some good laughs on the way there and back.

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Tecfest New Zealand – don’t expect just a dive show

Where in the world can you in 24 h dive into a volcano caldera, drift dive a river and dive in a hot stream to finish it all off?

I had the opportunity to attend TecFest NZ this year. It´s not an event with a lot of history, but it is definitely an enormous (for NZ) and great gathering of the technical diving community in New Zealand.

The event is not focused on being a showcase for technical diving brands on the market or teaching agencies, but on getting people with a common interest together. The feeling from the inside is that you are spending a weekend diving and sharing experiences with most of the technical community in New Zealand. It is a gathering of tech divers, or those who are interested in become one, and an excuse to spend a couple of days together, sharing experiences, making new plans or having some laughs.

During the whole weekend, there are talks on almost every time slot, and what is quite different from other events of this kind, is that during the conference, the main activity is diving. The focus of the conference is to get divers introduced to Technical diving, with the aid of those who already are, that come along to share experiences and to have some fun with their friends, from all around New Zealand.

And what we are all here for: THE DIVING is not just a random dive, you get to dive in one of the biggest volcano calderas in the world, with 100 m vertical walls and dozens of years old trees buried underwater. But you don´t need to be a tech diver or an advanced diver as the other big focus is to discover what tech diving is about. Running on every slot, there are try dives for underwater scooters, full face masks, sidemount configurations, twin tanks or drysuits, of course, all of them free of charge, with a compressor on site for air fills. There is a dive for everyone. This allows almost unlimited diving, for those who want to become a fish during the entire weekend.

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Lake Taupo, waiting for divers
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Diver passing by the huge Rhyolite

Another highlight of the event, is the possibility to do a drift dive on the Waikato river, emptying Lake Taupo, the previous dived volcano caldera. The logistics about the dive include knowing when the floodgates will open or close to regulate the river flow, something that we are not used to take care of. Timing it right will allow you to fly on water at almost 20 km/h while passing by huge boulders and (not to be missed) exiting at a Hot Water stream, another feature of geologically active New Zealand, where cold water from rivers mixes with hot stream resurgences in thermal areas.

Learning and expanding your horizons, all the talks are focused on technical diving experiences from other members, as well as topics of interest of deep divers, like decompression sickness, discussion about tissue super saturation, issues with breathing high density gases, comparison of different ascent techniques and decompression profiles as well as optimization of decompression; explorations in caves, what are the issues of diving in the middle of nowhere, when you are the first human there, and equipment needs; wreck deep diving around the world; discovering our heritage; maritime archaeology, etc. Most of the speakers are well known and recognized divers on the New Zealand community, as well as in Australasia, and most of them worldwide.

Some of the speakers this year include Dr. Simon Mitchel, with several diving community from all around the world awards on his belt, including DAN and EuroTek; Peter Mesley, a recognized lead on wreck exploration and technical diving teaching; Tom Crisp, cave diver explorer; Matt Carter, maritime archaeologist; the New Zealand police dive squad representative, gave an insight on statistics and their rescue missions, with data that is not surprising but shocking for most of us. All the talks were centered on what is important for tech divers: the learning, exploring and the example of the leads of the Southern Hemisphere on these disciplines.

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Dr. Simon Mitchel presenting super saturation on tissues with different decompression strategies

 

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BBQ’ing

 

All of this, is combined of course, with social events, promoted by the organization, like a huge BBQ on the beach or a huge dinner before the talks and relaxing evening time, again a great idea to get people together and promote the social side of the tech diving.

 

 

 

 

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An amazing sky color on the way back home