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.

IMG 0715

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.

IMG 0727

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.

IMG 0716

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

IMG 0717

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

IMG 0719
IMG 0721

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

IMG 0725
IMG 0728
IMG 0731
IMG 0751
IMG 0783
IMG 0791
IMG 0800
IMG 0804

including homemade hollandaise sauce

IMG 0741

and french fries

IMG 0769

We were presented with a gourmand’s delight

IMG 0820

and we left barely a bite uneaten

IMG 0823.

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

IMG 0773

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

IMG 0861
IMG 0863

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

IMG 0865.

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:  inatel.flores@inatel.pt

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.

IMG 0824

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.

IMG 0847
IMG 0848
IMG 0834
IMG 0859.

The two Annas sent out hors d’ouerves

IMG 0840
IMG 0850

while preparing a beautiful salad

IMG 0851

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

IMG 0855

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.

IMG 0866
IMG 0868
IMG 0878
IMG 0881
IMG 0879

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),

IMG 0887
IMG 0899

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

IMG 0892
IMG 0894
IMG 0896

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.

IMG 0902

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?

One 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.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s