Recently, Cart and I went on a non-traditional date, thanks to ingress.
As you know by now, I’m very involved with ingress and the community here. Thanks to the game and the community, I got to know lots of people whom I enjoy being with and discovered a lot of interesting sights that I might normally miss.
Here I am with some of my fellow Resistenza di Roma family!
When I first started ingress last April, the maximum level that you could reach was 8, where you could use level 8 XMP (which is the strongest weapon in ingress so far) and level 8 resonators (which is sort of like the strongest brick to use for building your portals)
But not too long after I started playing, Niantic increased the maximum level to 16. At the time I thought that I would be happy with my level 8 since I could use the highest level items, but I find myself enjoying the challenge of trying to reach the higher levels and somehow I’m level 14 at the moment 🙂
These mission badges are spiffy!
Anyway, once you’ve reached level 8, you will need enough points and have certain achievements to unlock the next level. One of these achievements is to keep a portal alive for as long as possible – 3 days for a bronze guardian, 10 days for a silver, 20 days for a gold, 90 days for a platinum and 150 days for an onyx.
And at this point of writing, I’d need another platinum medal to unlock level 15. In theory, the guardian medal is simple to achieve – capture and just charge it every now and then so that it doesn’t decay completely.
In real life though, there are a lot of nasty players who hunt your oldest portal and breaks it for the sole purpose that you don’t reach the medals.
It’s easy to feel indignant about the entire situation. The first few times when it happened to me, I was extremely upset. I’d like to think that they unknowingly shot my portal because I’ve done that before and that’s in the spirit of the game after all – to capture as many portals as possible. But when it’s always the same people breaking it just a few days or even hours before reaching the medal, it’s all very suspicious.
I had one broken on the 89th day, just a few hours shy for the platinum badge and my next oldest one was broken some weeks back. This one I captured somewhere in October. It was quite a feat because of all the ridiculously tall grass and risk of serpents. Who’d be crazy enough to traverse that? (Me!)
So it was very annoying to see it broken a week before the platinum badge. But what made it even more annoying is that when I returned, the grass was significantly shorter due to the winter, making it a lot easier to walk on. Bah.
Not too long ago, someone broke Cart’s guardian portal which was already 149 days old and missing some hours before it reached the coveted Onyx badge. Cart was a little upset but he already anticipated it. And in this situation, there are two options that you could do :
- Do nothing about it or
- Get even
Personally, I’ve never liked the idea of breaking other people’s guardian portals on purpose, as I think that it’s a nasty things to do. But in this case, we really didn’t appreciated getting bullied so asking around fellow agents (and we’re connected to practically almost every community in various regions in Italy, which is really cool) we find out their oldest portals and proceeded to go there and hunt for them.
Often these guardian portals are in the most interesting, out of reach locations, where we would absolutely NEVER go on a regular day.
One of the locations was a castle by the sea, with a tall jagged cliff next to it. The scene was as if we were in a movie set – with the blowing wind in the middle of Winter, the strong waves of the sea, walking on the black sand … It was quite cold and it was such a funny sight to see two dogs running around and accompanying us while we shot and deployed.
Another location was going to an Etruscan tomb which was located in the middle of a field. It was already night time, and we didn’t see much in front of us so we got waylaid at a steep edge before finding another path.
The entire experience going the fields reminded me when I was in outward bound, I was around 17 then and a group of us had to do a challenge, walking at night in the jungle, alone, with no flash-light. It was a sort of a courage building exercise. This time round, it was pretty much the same, complete with animal noises (with real animals this time) to reach the portal some distance away.
Where on earth am I?
We are so lucky there is a torch function on our phones and we could see where we were going and finally captured the portal. But the experience that has to take the cake what we did yesterday.
Cart took the day off to accompany me in collecting my new permesso di soggiorno and decided to take the opportunity to go to the portal of the person responsible for breaking his 149.
Looking at the particular portal through intel, it was located up in the mountains. We’ve already dressed warm and brought our snow boots with us. The location was a church which is around 80 km from where we live.
The route was extremely scenic, with the snow capped mountains. It was so breathtaking that I didn’t mind the long journey. About an hour later, we find ourselves in a quiet little town. Opening the ingress app though, the portal was still not visible as it was a low level portal.
Consulting with a fellow agent who studied the map and adviced us to go to an alternative path, we drove to another road and tried to go up further, but the terrain was too much for Cart’s car to handle.
So we changed into our snow boots and started walking into the woods. The path was littered with snow and ice as well as piles of animal droppings. But the scene was so beautiful though, seeing the mountains in the distance was so tranquil and serene.
We walked for about an hour and a half, hoping that we were going the right way – we still couldn’t see the portal on the scanner and I was desperate to do it as fast as possible before sunset. At one point, there was a crossing – one going up and the other going down. On a leap of faith, we went up. Fortunately, I finally managed to see the portal through mobile intel and that we were on the right path.
I was feeling fine as I’m in a relatively good shape as I’ve already done a full marathon so at this point, I can trek for hours with no problem. Poor Cart though, was out of breath and wheezing. I felt bad for him, but he kept insisting, “I need to do more of this more frequently”
Eventually we reached a relatively open field where there were horses and sheeps grazing around. And that was where I could finally see the portal in my scanner! Around 300 metres away! I was ready to walk past the horses so that I could reach the portal, but Cart warned me not to, as there was a chance that the male horses might be territorial and attack us.
So we went around the border, where we found that the distance was more or less the same and we walked across thorny bushes and tree branches. It didn’t bother me so much as it’s kind of like my camping days. It was actually rather fun. I was excited and wanted to rush off to reach the portal. Just a few meters more!
I was almost reaching it through my scanner!
And this was what we saw :
An invisible church. No words.
One hypothesis is that the church was initially located in the town below, but the location was edited to an unreachable place later. Nevertheless, we did a full deploy and tried to reach the car back as soon as possible as it was already nightfall, but there’s always time for a picture for posterity.
I’m mostly amused at how inappropriately accessorised I was – in the middle of the woods with my giraffe bag.
Look at how dirty our boots were
At this point of writing, the portal is a level 6 and is easily seen through the scanner from the town below – it’s a good potential guardian portal but Cart and I don’t care too much for for this medal any more. I mean, if we get it, it’s great. But if we don’t get it, it’s fine. In fact, Cart has his stats open for all to see for a couple of weeks now.
And walking through the woods at night, I kept thinking of how peculiar and unreal the entire situation was. It honestly felt like we were in an advanced virtual world, where I was actually at home on the sofa – you don’t see or do stuff like this in regular life!
The temperature dropped to -3 degrees by the time we reached the car, but I felt perfectly fine, probably because of the long trek that we did. And wearing gloves, multiple layers and snow boots helped a lot.
The thing that matters a lot for me is the memories and the experiences that I gained together with Cart. Sometimes, we don’t see eye to eye in some aspects of the game, for example, I prefer to be spontaneous and strike quickly, while he takes his time to analyse the situation. In the end though, I think that by having these out in the open and having a common goal made us closer and understand each other better.
Of course, I always enjoy spending time doing things together with Cart. Be it having dinner together, or simply just watching a movie together … but this would have to be the most peculiar date by far!
Sidenote : If there is anyone interested in playing ingress, just let me know, and I’ll send you an invite 🙂