Talk about a day in paradise. On Summer Solstice/Sailstice (wearing now one of my favorite t’shirts for Summer Sailstice thanks to our friend John Arndt) we were going to rent a car to toddle around Flores. To do so meant hiring a taxi to travel from Faja Grande to Santa Cruz, roughly 15 minutes to the NE coast. Jorge, the owner and chef of Maresia (“smell of the sea”, a name with which we may now christen our dinghy, and where we partook of some libations our first night at anchor, and subsequent times, but more of that later), called a cab.
After which an omelette seemed in order…
Well, squash the cab plans. Silvio arrived who also offers tours, and, after ten minutes of explaining the benefits of his services as a guide vs. just a cab to the rental agency we were so sold on this guy’s warmth and sales technique it was a big “DU-UH”, i.e., how could we even contemplate breathing Flores air without his knowledge and smile.
So, be advised: any one coming to this island MUST meet Silvio because his commentary and friendliness was a brilliant start to our Saturday morning (www.toursofflores.com). FLores was our favorite Azorean island in 2002 and this visit only makes it more so with…
walls decorated with hydrangea (which, like most of the flora and fauna here, were brought by sailors from another country, but not by the one in this photo…),
far-reaching vistas of land and sea (Corvo in the background),
patches of lava stone (which always brings to mind our geologist friend Joanne Urquhart),
The island continually provided us with a reminder of what the color green should be.
Dick and I kept thinking a hobbit or two will appear as this countryside is perfect for a LORD OF THE RINGS setting.
Part of the tour was Max’s lesson in how to say ladybug in Portuguese. It all began the day before upon announcing to the young marina official (also cute but, alas, no camera with me) ‘Juanona’ meant ladybug in their language. He politely told us, well, no, not quite. Ladybug is actually Joininiah. After nine times trying to pronounce it, enough so that the marina guy knew at this point he had three loopy new-arrivals cluttering his office, we packed up our papers and Azorean tourist pamphlets and exited with tongues still sloshing in our mouths unattractively with this newly acquired name for ladybug.
Fast forward to our unsuspecting tour guide Silvio, and Max pounced. Silvio graciously began teaching Max while Dick and I stood back waiting for the saliva sure to come our way. Although, we, too, didn’t waste an opportunity to twist our mouths around this Portuguese term. Dick later suggested putting Silvio’s tutoring on continuous loop and providing Max with headphones. Not a bad idea. (see below, and you may need to copy and paste)
Due to a prior engagement we only had Silvio for the first part of our tour, but he handed us over to Mateos, his father, who kindly shepherded us for the latter half of our day. With an accompanying whistling, he ensured we had every opportunity to partake of more Flores sights and sounds including the lovely church in Santa Cruz where Max gave thanks for our safe passage (no telling what Mateos was thinking)
encountering an amazing natural swimming pool just down the road (trust me, she does have a suit on)
[Just a brief aside about these waters: they are so absolutely inviting I desperately wanted to jump in for a swim; however, I recalled from our last time here I didn’t because of jellyfish. And, if I needed any more reminders all I had to do was remember the small man-of-war I saw floating by as we dinghies to shore. That, and having a local show me her scar from her encounter last summer with one.]
Dick met the lighthouse keeper’s dogs, which showed more interest in our arrival than the young man tending the grounds.
At one point Mateos suddenly pulled over at a spot on the road that to us seemed rather nondescript. Hopping out of the van he crosses to the green wall of moss coating the other side of the road.
We’re wondering what the big deal is when he sticks his hand into the moss only to have it disappear up to his forearm. Now that’s what I call lush.
One of the most memorable scenes of our day: two friends walking home together at day’s end.
But, our day didn’t end there. Upon returning to Maresia we found Jorge had purchased a fish from Bruno and was seducing us with a dinner, which would be difficult to refuse after partaking of that omelette this morning.
And, because of our contemplating that dinner we met two of the most wonderful people, Anna and Orlando, the latter who quickly qualified his name as “Not from Florida”. Orlando, a Flores native, runs the lab in the Santa Cruz hospital, and Ana, born in Angola and raised in Portugal, is a teacher and an artist. These two friends have become two people who have enriched our lives to the most stupendous degree.
Before the night was over, we decided to NOT leave Flores for Horta, Faial, Sunday as planned but to go to Orlando’s house for dinner in Santa Cruz. That’s after we regretfully declined dinner at Ana’s for the night. And so, with starry eyes and soft smiles on our faces, the three of us headed to the wharf thinking oh what a beautiful day, oh what a beautiful evening indeed.