Category Archives: 2014 06 AZORES – Flores

BRIEF UPDATE: To Friday hike and a semi-shower day

Just wanted to show you what greeted us when we got off Juanona after sailing around all Thursday night to avoid surge in Lajes marina. Faja Grande was like stepping into a fairy tale (without the ogres).

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We then strolled to the north up a hill…

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Took photo of the boys

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then headed down

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and, since all hot and sweaty, we took the opportunity to use a roadside cold water basin to cool off

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followed by dip in a water pool (wearing our clothes as didn’t want to scare the locals)

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And, because of the dunk and dip, the pillowcases stayed clean…

On the road again…

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I mean ‘sea’, on the sea again as we traverse the 130 or so miles from Flores to Faial. It’s my watch (11p-2a) and every now and then I check the horizon for any other lights indicating boats to avoid.

So far it’s been just a sea of blue with only a dot (turtle) of another life since we left this early morning.

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Now, at 12:54p it’s just me (I), the night sky and waters, and the ever-present snack bin.

Earlier we did have another occasion to address dining etiquette with both Max and Dick deigning to use their napkins, something I toss at them whenever there’s a meal.

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Of course, today they used them only after they first tried their ever-present ones, their shirt collars.

It was during this time I realized tomorrow/today is a shower day. Then gasped for the last time was five days ago. I summoned a wee bit of relief when I remembered we had dunk our heads in a cold waterhole alongside the road on Friday followed by a dip in a waterfall; but, still, that was FRIDAY. At least we had had showers Thursday for I forbade anyone putting their unwashed heads on the clean pillow cases I had put out in honor of reaching land.

Mirroring that hygiene scare is our lack of fresh clothes. The only laundry I’ve done since June 6th were a few pieces of underwear and a pair of quick-dry pants each for both Dick and me. However, this doesn’t faze Max who, when questioned why he didn’t put on a clean shirt after his first shower (or second one for that matter) announced he had three of the same shirt. Only after seeing three in the dirty laundry bag did I believe him… I fear, Carol E., I am falling into a dangerous habit here.

We did toss another message-in-a-bottle using one gifted to us by my friend Andrea who, in deference to my supposedly wine snobbery, had found the perfect brand to grace Juanona’s wine cellar.

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Now it’s 1:10a and I’m looking forward to when I can crawl back into my berth and dream of freshly laundered clothes.

YAHOO! woken up just before 7a to help dock at Horta’s reception office. One hour later, after hosing the boat down and stuffing odiferous items into canvas bags, we’ve stumbled to what I’ve been praying for since we left: washing machines, dryers, and showers!

Eduardina, the attendant at Horta’s laundry and shower services, has become my new best friend. After taking one look at me and the bags she immediately started quickly pointing to the timers on the spinning washing machines saying ‘only trece minutes’ for one followed by subsequent points to the three others. Then, she said ‘shower?’

After explaining I’d been on a boat with two hombres, the three of us taking showers every FIVE days (oy) and no laundry since June 6, she looked into my eyes, tenderly brushed the matted hair off my forehead and smiled with so much understanding I nearly went down on my knees to kiss her feet. My prayers have been answered: I have found a goddess on earth and she comes with clean machines.

On the road again and smelling mighty fine… :)

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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including homemade hollandaise sauce

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and french fries

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We were presented with a gourmand’s delight

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and we left barely a bite uneaten

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

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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

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

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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.

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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.

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The two Annas sent out hors d’ouerves

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while preparing a beautiful salad

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

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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.

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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),

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

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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.

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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?

Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day

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.

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After which an omelette seemed in order…

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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.

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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…

crater lakes,

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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…),

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far-reaching vistas of land and sea (Corvo in the background),

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patches of lava stone (which always brings to mind our geologist friend Joanne Urquhart),

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The island continually provided us with a reminder of what the color green should be.

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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)

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encountering an amazing natural swimming pool just down the road (trust me, she does have a suit on)

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[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.

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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.

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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.

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One of the most memorable scenes of our day: two friends walking home together at day’s end.

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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.

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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.

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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.