Go east my son

or, just go round and round and round, which is what we did this past Tuesday morning after picking up our rental car from Elsa, the very pleasant, young rental agent.

Jose, the amazing dock master here, who’s earned his stellar reputation by being just that, stellar, notated a map with places to go and things to see. And, we’ve started ticking those off, two of them today. Should have been at least four but you know how it goes when I’m navigating.

First stop was overlooking the coast line just up from Velas

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The sight was dramatic, but, as a pool craver, I also spotted and drooled as the turquoise sparkle caught my eye

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So much for nature.

Honestly (serious hat on/goof hat off), there are amazing, natural swimming pools here. You may remember one in Santa Cruz just down from our friend Orlando’s home. We plan to definitely jump in some of them after ensuring no jellyfish are floating by, which can be the unfortunate case. Pics will be coming of that, although not one of me in a bathing suit. (I once had someone post a photo of me on FB in my suit… running. Talk about not a good look.) Back to the drive…

We couldn’t leave, though, before another tradition was captured

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Got to love him :)

A breakfast stop was our second call of the day, and we did that, twice. The first time I spotted a lovely looking cafe. It entailed turning around (what else is new with my driving directions), but we did, and then walked up the steps to the outdoor tables and chairs.

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Max sat down, and when I joined him he said there’s someone drinking coffee so we, at least, should be able to get a cup. He had also asked the woman sweeping inside if we could sit there and she said yes.

Three minutes later she came out and we asked if it was okay to order breakfast and she looked at us like we had two-heads on each of our tourista shoulders and said no. You know that du-uh no, like ‘were you born stupid’ no. Seems they only serve lunch, which was an hour and half away.

So, when Max asked if it was okay if we sat, she must have thought we wanted to take in the view… of the empty sidewalk.

I must admit it was lovely but coffee would have been lovelier.

Up we get and continue our sojourn where we finally do find a spot, only it’s lunch time by now. They did serve coffee

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and the usual cheese and bread (the good, squishy, holey type).

Feeling quite full we struck off further east to Calheta and a village to the east of there where Jose noted was his favorite natural pool.

We couldn’t locate the pool, but we did find a wall, and you know what that means…

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At this miradoura (or lookout) it was startling to see a tree struggling to grow

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This sight was so forlorn juxtaposed against the winding roads lined with flowers

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and verdant pastures, which I photo-bombed with a no-thigh pose.

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Two places we wanted to check out involved the artisan weaving and coffee-growing.

We did find it (after passing it twice before and stopping, getting out of car and wondering is it THIS house?).

The weaving was above the Cafe Nunes snack bar, so we strolled upstairs to check out this artisan craft.

We saw looms, a small one

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and two large ones with one of the finished products

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but no weavers.

Once out of the weaving room, we notice the plant-covered patios

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Starting to smell some roasted coffee, we followed our noses to the house attached to the garden. A man came out and I tried asking (in Spanish, of course, then hand signals) about coffee-growing. He smiled and gestured for us to follow him further up the hillside.

He wasn’t alone for as we were going up, two women, one with a microphone and another with a video camera started up behind us. The microphone holder was a reporter for ITV and she asked if she could speak with us, meanwhile the video camera holder starting filming (lovely. not only thighs but backside would be captured).

The microphone holder spoke perfect English, telling us she covered all the Azores for ITV, providing them with special features. Oh boy.

So, while Max is snapping a few shots of the plants and beans…

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so are the ITV women.

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ANYhow, once we exhausted the photo ops of the beans, I asked the owner if we could purchase what we were smelling:  heavenly, to-die-for, roasting coffee beans. Alas, he said no but did provide me with some so I could start my own plantation

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We followed him down, trailing our now camera crew, to where his wife was stirring the little brown beans over the stove.

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She, too, refused to let go of any beans with a gentle smile that reminded me of Eduardina of Horta. So, with a sad farewell to the best coffee I’d smelt in more than a month and to the women who possibly would be sending film of our visit along with my thighs and backside to ITV, we descended to the snack bar and drove away.

Later, when back in the car and reading in the guidebook Gail left, AZORES by David Sayers, Edition No.5, and published by a company Katie Wilkinson recommends (Bradt), we see why no folk in the weaving room: there are evidently only two left working these looms, taking over a week to make one double bedspread costing a buyer 500 euros (p 177 of above guidebook).

We also read in explicit detail how to find Cafe Nunes with the weaving and coffee-growing. Nothing like a good resource one doesn’t use until after the fact. Although, getting lost does have its own seductive charm, which we’re increasingly discovering in our circular drives.

Time to head home.

On our drive back we saw our first graveyard in the Azores

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We had been wondering where all the bodies were. Of course, we haven’t set foot in one of the churches around here so there could be a stash of them in a courtyard area. My guess was they were probably all around the bus stops.

You pass a bus stop and this is what you see

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The buses run to two places from one place: Velas. One goes twice a week once a day; the other weekdays, once a day.

There’re probably some headstones next to them saying ‘Here lies Anton’ with an obit relating he died ‘waiting for the No. 1 bus, survived by wife Henriqueta. She decided to walk.’

Honestly, the Bradt guide book says you can catch a bus between Velas and Calheta only on Wednesdays and Fridays, leaving at 8:30 with a return at 15:30. Then there’s Velas to Rosais, 10:15 with a return at 14:45. Not too bad if you have relatives (you want to stay with).

Which is one reason why we decided to take transportation into our own salty hands and rent a car. Driving also allows us to stop and investigate roadside attractions, like this ancient watermill grinder

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where I also spotted one of those giant fern trees

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and, this time, had a perspective tool (pen)

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Having the freedom of your own timetable and transportation also allows one to stop and smell the fresh, wild white flower my friend Ellen has rooting in her gardens (Ellen, what are these?).

If you ever have the chance to catch a whiff of these delectable blooms, do so. For, in spite of their droopy appearance, the blossoms are so fragrant you want to soak in them.

Now, we’re very respectful of people’s property, be it private homes or public parks. But, alongside public highways where you know they’re considered weeds, we figured it was okay to take a few back with us to offset Juanona’s marine smell

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Knowing it was perfectly all right to cut some, I thought Max might like to carry them pass Jose’s office and onto the pontoons with a story ‘a nice lady gave them to us when she saw us admiring them’.

So, we drive home heading west after heading east-north-south-west-east-north-east-south and place our Azorean finds in the head

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