Tue 8 Jul 2014 18:03
Tuesday, 8th July 2014
Position; no change here, indeed I have put a stern anchor down to hold my bows on to the gentle swells. This stops the rolling, and we are completely snug. The swells surge into the marina itself, only a foot high or so, but the boats in there pull to and fro on their warps, uncomfortable and wearing on the ropes. So, snug and smug!
Writing really because this island is so excellent that I wouldn't want to forget what I've been up to. If you don't like wild flowers or walking skip to the next blog.
The hydrangeas are the most striking part of the landscape. The hedges are made of these, and a sea of clustered blue flowers stretches along the roadsides, and up and down the mountainsides, quite extraordinary. Other than these these are pink wild roses, often in and amongst the hydrangeas, and a sort of lily that is either a dramatic red, or an equally dramatic yellow/orange with bright red spots. There are walks on the old pack routes that have not yet been converted into immaculatley metalled modern roads, courtesy surely of more EU funding. The paths are rather inaccessible, but the subsidised bus service , though infrequent, helps there. One day I was the only passenger, both directions, and in a brand new bus, as we passed from Lajes Town through numerous outlying villages to one of the trailheads. Another day I missed the bus, so hitch hiked: an acceptable transport on this island. Early in the day there was plenty of traffic, and I was soon comfortable, fairly, in the back of a farm wagon. I finished my 13 Km clifftop/coast walk, and started the 25 KM walk home, confident that I would again be picked up in short order. 8 km later, at 6pm, no single car had been seen. I was calculating what time I would arrive back at base when latest best friends Nick and Norman (Running Tide of Avon) hove into view in their little hire car. We were equally surprised to see one another in these circumstances, but I was indeed grateful for a lift home. The cliffs rise sheer out of the sea, and walking is hard, either up or down, but exhilerating. There are so many dramatic waterfalls over them that you become rather blase. The sea seems cool after the Caribbean, but once you are in it is comfortable enough. Yesterday however I was stung by a jellyfish: they are numerous, pink, and about 6 inches long with furry tentacles. The mild pain soon settled down, and obviously the venom was not too poisonous! Aside from the very pleasant restaurant mentioned in the last blog, there is a good cafe with a strong internet signal, (the whole Island has free Wi Fi) but only one electric socket for plugging in your laptop. The key seat always has a German beach towel on it. About six French yachts and four Germans, so a few nights ago the cafe TV attracted quite a crowd. The French were nonplussed.
It's very religious here, all the churches are immaculate, and the various festivals are all based around the religious calender. Many private houses have decorative tiles around the front doors, depicting biblical themes and stories. All the houses now have a satellite TV dish, so that has probably put a stop on the tale telling and basket weaving of yore! Even so a big evening social event gets people out of doors: fishing off the harbour wall. Whole families congregate there, and the mothers seem as keen as the dads. They catch either sprat sized things, buckets full, or a mackeral varient: bigger than a UK job, and less stripey. Presumably the mackeral are there eating the sprats. Who would be a sprat? The poor fish are either clubbed, or left to flap about in rather a sad way. The children play around, oblivious to the carnage. But these are also sensitive folk, and there are a family of ducks on the slipway, carefully tended by the locals. A marauding cat got two of the hatchlings the day after I arrived, but the other two are doing well now. I take the information to the pretty girl in the cafe. She does my order as I arrive, scowling at the towel. Cafe con lech, in a cup, not a glass, and one of those delicious portuguese egg custard tarts: a pastel de nata: total one euro and fifty cents. Starbucks is never going to be the same again, and they take their coffee seriously here, it's excellent, even in the least promising of village eateries. And what of the Island specialty: cheese. Oh, to die for! So, yes, it is going to take quite an event to haul me away from here anytime soon.