Can it get any better than this??

Sunday we awoke knowing yet another day on this island was going to be something to savor and hold tight in our hearts; and, this was so, so true.

After our now standard boat breakfast of yogurt and fruit we headed to Maresia for our rendezvous with Ana and Orlando.

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One of the immediate draws for me was the music seductively wafting from this open-air cafe. With my no-small nose tunes that Jorge was playing were as enticing as any aroma of savory dishes. When I asked about his music, he led me to his ensemble and proudly identified some exceptional stereo equipment as well as the playlist streaming from his computer.

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I carefully noted some of the musicians and songs while scribbling down a few of my favorite alternative artists. One group did give me pause as they’re called ‘Bonobo,’ which, I believe, is a species of apes who settle any and all disputes with sex… but, what can I say, their music (the group’s, not the apes’) was very appealing.

I must admit seeing his set-up reminded me both of my college roommate’s (Carol Williams) arrangement (with her carefully tended, reel-to-reel tape player, she had studiously recorded all the Beatles albums) and one of the best musical investments I’ve ever made (I purchased an amplifier, stereo, and speakers with some of my waitressing funds based on advice from my friend Robbie Meredith–to me, a guru of anything to do with electronics of which I am most certainly not). Seeing Jorge’s equipment made me wistful for my long-ago system.

While waiting Emanuel mentioned Jorge had gone fishing with Bruno and should be returning within the half hour.

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Remembering the fish from yesterday we were thinking lunch just might be in order. Sure enough, the fishermen arrived and lunch was a go.

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However instead of fish Jorge showed us some lobster-like critters he had been keeping in the water for a few days.

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Dick and I quickly agreed to splitting one of those while Max decided on a steak. And, the artistry of a gourmet lunch commenced…

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including homemade hollandaise sauce

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and french fries

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We were presented with a gourmand’s delight

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and we left barely a bite uneaten

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I promise, Jorge and Emanual, a Trip Advisor five-star review will be posted by me.

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And, just a note for our friends Rob and Shawn: yes, a red, fleece jumper seems to be the requisite attire for a manly Maine sailor; although, as you saw earlier this year, Max decided to change his color hue to blue. Have no doubt Max still holds on to his original red ones, ones with which he and Dick excitedly compared scorched marks on the sleeves.

But, WAIT!, there’s more! And, when we say more, we mean M O R E: Ana and Orlando arrived and we were whisked off to Santa Cruz for a time that even now makes me grin.

Orlando’s home is lovely with an uninterrupted view of the sea

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and a separate garage/apartment/communal kitchen in the back

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While Orlando went for his daily visit to see his elderly mother (recently widowed she lives in a nursing home nearby), the three of us strolled around Santa Cruz. Taking a right outside his front door, within three minutes we were at the natural pool and cafe where they were gearing up for the World Cup game. Continuing our walk we came upon one of the few hotels, and this one was a beaut. Once again, as Max and I have done on our travels, we thought this was definitely up to our sisters’ standards. The receptionist invited us to look around, including checking out the pool. I could’t help myself: I had to stick my toe in that water as I’m a total sucker when it comes to pools (just ask Betsy). Bliss. And, no jellyfish, just lounging hotel guests looking at me as if I’m nuts. Must have had something to do with my tongue hanging out and eyes rolling back in my head.

Hotel das Flores, Santa Cruz, Flores, email:

Returning to another slice of heaven, Orlando’s abode, we met Pedro and Ricardo, both colleagues at the hospital where Orlando works. These young men emigrated from the mainland (Portugal) after applying for and winning contracts from the government, Pedro in the lab and Ricardo in radiology.

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Anna, who’s a teacher, also had a friend and colleague joining us, another Ana. We soon grew to nine when Peter, Pedro’s brother-in-law, arrived, and the feast began.

Ricardo, a hunter as well as someone who loves to cook, began his rabbit stew while Orlando prepared the grill for fresh fish.

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The two Annas sent out hors d’ouerves

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while preparing a beautiful salad

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and a delicious Portuguese dessert called sweet rice by Ana 2.

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Dinner was devoured amidst conversations in Portuguese, French, Spanish and English, with our Portuguese friends puttings us three Americans to shame with their ability to speak English much better than our ability to converse in Portuguese.

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While waiting for the World Cup Portugal vs. US game (Libby-lou, we definitely participated in the cheering, although it was difficult to pick a side),

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Max toasted our hosts with special champagne compliments of my sister Betsy

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and, we were so very, very happy to be here.

Unfortunately, we had to return to Faja Grand. After multiple hugs and dual kisses with Ricardo, Pedro, and Peter, we had to then leave Orlando. A teary good-bye and tight embraces got us into the car where, at least, some solace was knowing we had some time with the two Ana’s on the ride across the island.

And, that ride was a hoot, with Ana driving and pointing out the sights when it’s pitch black and Ana 2 in the back between me and Dick inserting comments such as ‘Oh yes, look at this rock, and yes, yes, the cow, and oh, another rock’ of which the only thing we could all see was the road illuminated by headlights. Those headlights came in handy at the end as Anna dropped us off and ensured we could find out dinghy by using her car as a spotlight.

All I can say is we could never, ever get enough of our new-found friends Ana and Orlando (the latter now christened “of Flores”) and their family of friends. Two such people are gems of the world, and we can only hope we will meet up again.

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And, soon Juanona’s crew will be complete with the arrival of Gail, Dick’s wife, whom we’re looking forward to meeting in Horta on Wednesday. For me it’s an added bonus because I will have another female for whom napkins are a standard accompaniment to a meal versus males who delicately wipe their lips on shirt collars.

How can life get any better than this?

1 thought on “Can it get any better than this??

  1. R&S

    Ultimately all the travel we do is about the people. Sounds like you hit the jackpot. I need to get better at that….opening up to the people and not my idea of what travel is! Thanks.