We haven’t been meeting a ton of people, but, those we have, have been truly special.
You may remember our time in Santa Cruz with Ana and Orlando,
and the Sunday feast at Orlando’s with Ana 2, Ricardo, Pedro and Peter,
Jorge and Emmanuel of Marisea in Faja Grande,
Edurado and Carla whom we met at dinner when our Maine crew, Ricardo (aka Dick) and Gail, were aboard,
followed by our explorations with Tricia and David on Sao Jorge and Graciosa.
Not to mention Stefan and Carina and Audrey and Roger off two boats we met in Sao Jorge,
and, Jose, the amazing dock master at Velas marina.
Now, in Sao Miguel we’re continuing to run into warm and interesting folk.
The first people we met were Emmanuel and Francesca. From St. Malo and Paris when not on their beautiful boat, Emmanuel appeared at our pontoon to see if we needed any help tieing up the Sunday we landed. Soon after, we met Francesca, and before long we’d asked if they’d like to come by for wine and cheese (yes, we were brave, for I find it always a bit daunting to offer the French a glass of vino they haven’t selected).
All was wonderful until I spilled the red wine all over my side of the cockpit. Fortunately, Francesca didn’t catch any splatter, thank god, and she immediately asked for cold water to help me clean up.
So there the two of us were, scrunched down in the cockpit while Max and Emmanuel were trying to keep the wine from migrating to their side of the boat and spreading more disastrous staining. (FYI: I had JUST used some special wet sandpaper to get off all previous marks on the white fiberglass… it worked, so at least I know what I can use this time…)
Francesca and Emmanuel were graciously laughing, which eased my chagrin.
We discovered this courtly couple had met when Emmanuel was 14 and Francesca, nine.
Originally from Venice, Francesca’s family would travel to France for summer vacations because her father felt his five children should learn other languages because it broadens the mind (talk about one smart dad). They kept in touch and later married, beginning their own family life, one that always included a boat.
The next day they asked if we wanted to stop by for dinner. Max and I would have had to have been blockheads to turn that invitation down. Somehow the French always make the simplest ingredients taste like heaven, which is exactly what Francesca created. Speaking of heaven, towards the end of the meal Emmanuel pulled out some red wine that was like nectar of the gods. (I wisely stuck with white until I couldn’t stand it any more and just had to sip some of that French red.)
By the end of the night we asked if they wanted to come on a road trip with us the next day. So, on Thursday, July 24th, off we trooped, finally locating the car rental agency where we had reserved our car, one that looked, I might add, like it had participated in one of the car rallies that travels these islands.
We drove east along the coast due to cloudy weather inland. We saw Caloura, one of the prettiest little villages (with a hotel both Francesca and I agreed would be ideal for two days of reading, swimming, and room service).
Once again clean rest rooms greeted us at public beaches,
along with a lovely natural swimming area, viewed close-up
miradouras with walls,
(can any one spot something different about le captain?)
and, if you’re traveling with two diehard sailors, there are always harbors and more boats to check out, which we did in Vila Franca do Campo.
The wharf gave Max an opportunity to impress our company. Obviously, he’s lost any inhibitions he had regarding this M.O. as by now I could make a book of his wall walks.
When the guys were looking elsewhere,
Francesca and I spotted a mini car on the boat launch.
Because her language skills verge on genius, we discovered there was cliff diving competition the next two days. The car was a promo piece, and later we saw them towing this (plastic) vehicle to a craggy island, Ilheu da Vila, where the trials and finals were being held.
We didn’t see anyone diving but did manage to spot some divers and crew waiting to do so,
something that scares the beejesus out of me.
That night we met up with more cruisers, Joseph (France) off s/v C/LODY and Martin (Wales) and Arnie (Ireland) off s/v CHARDONNAY.
Conversation flowed with topics from politics (Presidents and Prime Ministers) to economics (the effect of 2008’s too-big-to-fail organizations) to sailing (safe moorings in Balierics) to one of the most interesting: whom aliens would consider the most intelligent life on planet earth (whales).
Needless to say, what started at 6p went until 9:30p. Martin left a bit earlier to start dinner, followed by Arnie who was going to eat the dinner. The three of us (Joseph, Max and myself) then headed off to a tapas restaurant Joseph had discovered.
Let me tell you, Joseph’s recommendation has ended up being one of our favorite restaurants in the Azores along with Marisea in Flores. We plan to visit it several more times before leaving these Azorean waters.
More conversation over excellent tapas and fish along with wine, and before we knew it, time had travelled to almost midnight.
Later that week Martin and Arnie sailed to Santa Maria (one of the smallest islands approximately 50m away) for the weekend. Martin decided to go since they’re just waiting, at this point, for his son to arrive in Sao Miguel from a wedding in Vancouver, B.C. (don’t think we didn’t think of you two, Shawn and Rob :) on August 1st. We hope to meet the son, an engineer, as he was in Qatar when Max’s son Chris was teaching there.
On Sunday (July 27) Joseph with his crew who had arrived Friday night (his sister and boyfriend and one other friend) left for Lisbon, Portugal.
And, that’s the one downside to meeting new friends: everyone generally leaves for a different port.
However, we have exchanged boat cards, so beware: the people we’ve met and the fun we’ve had may just be continued in Europe… :)