The day before Gail and Ricardo left we took the ferry to Pico to toddle around that island, visit a whaling museum, and any other sights we could find (don’t worry, there weren’t a lot of hydrangeas there).
The ferry terminal, like other newly, constructed infrastructure around here, is yet another stunning example of architecture. And, as you can imagine, I did check out the restrooms, which are modern and immaculate. Ahh, heaven.
I took quite a few shots, including my husband studiously ignoring me
Gail, Ricardo and I had some breakfast (Max had eaten his usual marina bar cafe ham and cheese Azorean sandwich earlier).
Gail was smart and didn’t point to the sandwich, which Ricardo and I did. Turned out it was four pieces of white bread, one lettuce leaf sprawled across one teaspoon of what we now know must be the tuna paste we see on menus, and two other teaspoons of the beige tuna paste allocated amongst the other three slices. Oh well, the soggy bread was tasty.
Not only did we get breakfast, but I also discovered another Gail term, scrapkins (maybe I should call them Gailerisms like I did with my mom’s special words). Like napkins they are used for wiping one’s mouth and hands after eating but, unlike a lot of other table napkins, they’re only large enough for a thumb and a finger or one dab of the lips–you choose. If I had thought to bring my pencil, you could see what I’m talking about.
FYI: If you look closely you may also see some of a dissected, tuna-paste culinary treat to the right of the scrapkins.
Soon we were ready to board, and off we go
Yes, more snapping of camera while on the ferry as we depart Horta
including a local fishing boat heading to Faial
and, a shot of two passengers who turned the lens on me
and one of my favorites
Within 30 minutes we were inside the port of Madalena’s seawall on Pico where a giant’s jigsaw puzzle pieces surrounded the candy cane-striped lighthouse
Fishing boats, some with drying laundry and some with bamboo poles that are used for tuna fishing, gently bobbed like tub toys.
Max located a rental car and soon we were on another one of our ten-minute detours, i.e., we don’t know where we’re going and we’ll ask once we get tired of turning around.
We did start out, though, behind a truckload of fish
reminiscent of another car ride by Max in 2002 when he was behind a truckload of severed cow limbs, which put him off meat for a wee bit.
Heading east toward the Museu dos Baleeiros (Whalers’ Museum) at Lajes do Pico, located on the southern coast, we noticed all these square plots walled by what looked like porous chunks of charcoal but was lava populated with green viney plants
They looked like weeds but on closer inspection we discovered they were the local vineyards carefully cultivated.
We arrived at Museu dos Baleeiros and I promptly had to take a photo of a cutesy sign (not a big fan of cutesy)
and a tiled wave on the sidewalk (which I liked)
Unfortunately, the museum neglected to say until you arrived AT the door that instead of being open 10a-4p they were open 10a-12:30p then again 2p-4p. Ahhh… when will we learn? But, no fears, we found lunch (amazing how food and drink always makes one feel better).
We all ordered something other than the hamburger with the ever-present fries, which are served everywhere here.
Three ordered omelets and one ordered steak. Oh, they come with fries.
Once again, Gail and I pushed ours towards Max and Ricardo but even THEY had exhausted their intake of this national food.
Talk about a wonderful place to introduce a different type of french fry. Forget about boat supplies. Try potatoes.
We began talking about those stringy, curlycue fries dusted with a chili-like spice; and, I recalled our family’s fried potato recipe: (1) peeling potatoes as if you’re going to boil and mash them, (2) fill a baking pan with about 4 inches of crisco oil or, better yet, lard, (3) place prepared peeled potatoes in it, (4) cook the heck out of the potatoes until they’re basically a frizzled, crispy crunchy ball of fried potato with a dime-size bit of meat cowering inside. Now do you know why I’m a fan of stretchy pants?
But, they would need marketing names so Max and Gail, both of whom are good at this, came up with Spud Scud and Potato Bomb. We’re still stuck, though, on what to call those curly fries, so we welcome any suggestions as long as you don’t start a french fry truck business as the four of us may attempt it after we perfect the recipes. We’ll just require extra large seats to accommodate any additional girth thanks to taste-testing. And, my stretchy pants.
Another local food seems to be humongous carrots. (These photos don’t really do the typical Azorean carrot justice. We’ve eaten the largest ones but at least you get an idea of girth)
For hors d’ouerves I figured we might as well have a vegetable with all the cheese we’re enjoying, so I’ve begun peeling these orange monoliths to add a healthy alternative.
Gail and I were thinking, too, we could carve them into building blocks and start creating edible edifices,
or simply do carrot art.
Carrot-carving could become a hobby aboard Juanona.
Okay, enough of local foods. Back to our Pico island tour…
which, just happened to involve another manhole pic for Ellen when walking back to the car from the cafe
and more examples of the brightly-trimmed homes of some locals
Ricardo and Gail needed to catch the 3p ferry, so we took the scenic overland road to drive by the mountain, one Max had hiked with John Arndt in 1978 and then again with Chris, 2002
Along the way we saw municipal workers keeping the lanes clear of, what else, hydrangeas
Competing with my hydrangea mania is my Pico Mountain obsession. When we arise every morning we look towards Pico to see what the weather’s like. This point of Pico is either totally eclipsed,
or partly eclipsed,
in various cloud configurations
or almost totally uncovered
Must admit it’s mesmerizing. And, you, poor folk, know what that means… YES! Photographs of exactly the same thing over and over!
We got some wonderful views of Pico Mountain, Portugal’s highest mountain at roughly 7,000 ft
but, I’ll limit them to the two above… for now.
After dropping Ricardo and Gail in town to catch the ferry back to Horta, Max and I headed for another whaling museum on the northern shore in Sao Roque do Pico. However, while driving along the coast Max noticed a sign saying ‘vinha’, and the car quickly turned onto a narrow road that became an even narrower lane that became one-way in spite of being a two-way street.
We parked and began looking for any signs pointing to this ‘vinha’ place. All we saw was a large plate glass window in this old building with a sign and arrow directing us to an entrance further down. Still no sign but we entered a small courtyard anyway, saw an open door and proceeded inside. Voila! We had found a gem of a museum explaining how Pico became such a fabulous wine-growing island thanks to its dressing of lava from volcanic explosions.
We peered through the building’s windows captivated by the striking leafy limbs trailing over black rocky ground as they searched for purchase on these laboriously, man-made walls
It became clear, once we heard the history, of exactly how these small plots came into being. (NOTE on photo: I’m trying to make sure Max could see the examples while also getting into some light as directed by Max while I’m saying, as most of my friends know when taking a snapshot of me, ‘no thighs’.)
Our guide said the grapes are grown in two types of lava, the flat kind located closer to shore and the biscotti kind, which we were seeing.
Originally the monasteries and large estates held all the land and, hence, vineyards, and Pico began exporting wine to Europe, the US and Russia; but, in the mid- to late 1800s, a mildew and a pest basically shut down this business, causing a devastating loss of income not only to the owners but to those who worked in the fields as well. Another large exodus, this time to Brazil and California, occurred. Eventually, the vineyards were broken up into much smaller plots and bought by the locals.
Some emigrees later returned home bringing an American grape, which led to growing and producing wine for local consumption.
This excellent wine is now enjoyed by many coming to the Azores (when we asked Silvio on Flores for a good wine he said any from Pico are great. And, they are.). In 2004 Pico became a designated UNESCO World Heritage wine-growing site, and this museum serves to educate visitors on this island’s wine history.
The museum had a wonderful map depicting not only the areas for wine-growing but also ox cart trails (in dotted red) created over many years when tending and harvesting these small plots. Because of the small plots, all harvesting was done by hand, occurring in September.
After taste-testing two of their three bottles of wine, a smidgen of a syrupy glow (we each only had three tablespoons) accompanied us as we continued to our original designation, the converted whale processing factory now a museum, Museu da Industria Baleeira.
Inside the museum did have one of the small, open boats the men set off on for shore whaling. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have wanted to be in one of those chasing after a mammal the size of a house. (I’d show a pic but no photography allowed.)
Once we finished touring the factory we exited to bright sun and some kids’ laughter along with the sound of spraying water. Sure enough we looked to our left and there were some young sailors just finishing hosing off their Optis. They kindly posed for some photos
with one sailor taking a lot of pride in ensuring a sail was prominently displayed
Time to head back for our ferry-catching
and home to Horta and the marina
It being the last night we thought we’d have something special for Ricardo and Gail: PIZZA! Not typical Azorean fare but one the four of us were keen on. We had spotted some pizza-carrying Azoreans after dinner the night before at a famous watering hole for yachts at Peter’s Cafe. (Both Gail and I can attest, if you order their red wine, it’ll taste as if you’re sucking down a purple grape.)
Well, we all eagle-eyed the label on the boxes and then set off in pursuit. It was just down the street a block or two, and with a sharp left, we met the very welcoming owner and chef (many Azoreans speak excellent English, thanks to either trips and stays in the US, school here, and un-dubbed american films). We said we’d be back the next night. Just the menu alone most likely caused our sleep to be filled with dreams of circular food.
Alas, no pics of the night, and one was a really missed photo, and it wasn’t of a pizza but of a pizza picker-upper.
Ricardo and I left to order and wait for the pizza. The US vs Belgium World Cup game was on, so we sat and watched while counting down to dinner time. The TV was above the soda machine and we were about one table-length away from it (unfortunately as it turned out), for lo and behold I had been talking to Ricardo with my head turned to starboard only to then face forward to catch the game. After a gulp accompanied by google eyes I nudged Ricardo and said ‘act naturally but just slowly look forward’.
By then I was starting to giggle and it got worse. Fortunately, both of us managed to not let on what was triggering our growing hysteria. All I can say is the thoughts going through my pizza-deprived head were (a) wow! what a perfect place to put a two-peach-halves tattoo and (b) the moon also rises in mysterious places.
As Ricardo later related to Max and Gail the guy had a vertical line from shirt bottom to pant top of about a foot. Since then I’ve been tugging my pants up when sitting to make sure I also do not moon rise in public.
We ended the night with our now traditional game of Oh Hell. I have been the only one out of the past five nights NOT to win. Meaning I couldn’t pick an animal sticker to place under one’s name on the score card (a regulation, which I instituted). So, some words of caution: if anyone’s planning on teaching Gail and Ricardo a new card game, do not believe them when they say they take awhile to catch on. They were the ones who picked the first two stickers…
Our final, final task of the night was, as Gail aptly coined, ‘flossing and foaming’ (the latter actually came from a term a friend of mine used when I asked her if she minded if I brushed my teeth in front of her; she replied ‘well, as long as you’re not going to foam in front of me’).
As those who live on boats know, one quickly loses inhibitions found on land. Emptying the pee pot
became a communal chore that none of us found odd, and walking around in outfits normally reserved for next-of-kin or only those whom you know will not point and look in disgust is common.
Thanks, though, to our friend Katie Palmer (whose husband Steve will be our crew to England!) Gail and Ricardo had a semblance of privacy due to a lovely curtain created for the aft berth (Max smartly removed the bi-fold door to allow more room),
with a decorative edge using our curtain fabric
(also, thanks to Katie’s as well as Carol Williams’ prowess with a sewing machine) to compliment the main cabin decor
So, that is the tale of the week. Saying goodbye to Ricardo (who was the first of possibly the four of us requiring a Tums for the pizza) and Gail with strong hugs this morning meant the first chapter of our adventure was sadly over.
But, wait, I said I created a monster! That monster is moi and my infliction upon friends of having to wiggle and jiggle to “Happy” aboard Juanona. Now a tradition, this act began with my encouraging Ricardo and Max to do so on our passage…
Beware, Tricia, David (friends from Horta) and Steve, you are next!
And, now, how appropriate for as I close this epistle, with which I have tired your eyes, “Happy” serenades me from the marina bar cafe’s video screen. I guess I’ll just have to dance out of here… :)