Isle of Faial – June 11


No issues, problems, conflicts or rain stood in the way of our outing, today.  There are smiles all around.

Faial (pronounced feye-all) is one of nine islands that comprise the Azores.  Horta is its largest city, whose ~7,000 inhabitants constitute almost half of the island’s population.  Sao Miguel island is much larger, with a population about 10 times that of Faial.  It’s 150 miles east of here.  We’re here, not there, because this is the closest stop from the US or Bermuda.  Horta has a rich sailing and whaling history, so it’s not like we stopped at the crummiest oasis in the desert.

This is a volcano, pure and simple.  The main structure of the island is the largest and oldest volcano.  The newest is younger than me.  Those of intermediate age dotting the island with humps, more than cones, give the landscape a rolling texture in some areas.

This valley is hidden from the sea.  Early settlers inhabited this area to avoid being seen by pirates, who would prey on any easy target, land or sea.

We learned this from William (easier than the Portuguese, Guilherme) our local taxi driver who took us on a tour of the island for 5 hours, in a nice Mercedes sedan.  He’s a local who tried living elsewhere (10 years in Monterey, CA), but decided he likes it better here.  Shar, Jason & I did the trip.  We went up to the old volcano and around the island, stopping for lunch on the opposite side.  

Surprising factoid: there are more hydrangeas on this island than the US has pennies.  They are everywhere.  They even form lot lines between parcels of land.  Great example of a non-native species going wild.  And imagine the effort to trim those that line the narrow, winding roads, everywhere.  This little overlook park features a row, but by no means indicates how widespread they are.

Factoid #2:  the population is 99% Catholic.  So, it wasn’t surprising, given that this is Pentecost Sunday, that we’d run into some ceremony.  Pentecost is celebrated on the fiftieth day after Easter, commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ while they were in Jerusalem celebrating the Feast of Weeks.  Here’s a band blocking the street on the road to the volcano: good tunes, but extremely slow on their feet.  Feasting follows.

Also, this is for my mom, also a Catholic.  Almost none of the candles have been lit, apparently due to the windy location.

The volcano was kinda interesting, but, basically just a big crater with shrubbery.  The light was flat, so no pic.

The northwest side of the island is decidedly different, and a whole lot like parts of Hawaii: steep slopes, dark volcanic rock, lush greenery.  This photo doesn’t illustrate those attributes well, but what the hay.

The new volcano erupted in 1957/58, on the western tip of the island.  It buried the lighthouse with ash while building a new peninsula into the ocean.  No one was killed, amazingly.

The last stop of the day was near Horta, on the southwestern shore.  Nice sea caves, great water color.

So, today’s photo bomb is in response to the several++ persons (you know who you are) urging for…nay, demanding “more pictures.”  I hope your greedy image appetites have been slated because lean times are coming.  We’re back on the run tomorrow.  The uplink for internet has been fixed and sea-tested, so, once again, it should work.  If it doesn’t, there will be another delay before the next installment(s).  Also, please note that I won’t have the luxury of bandwidth heaven.  Posts will be wordy, dense, turgid and largely without charm.  Those magical prose-reducing images that speak more eloquently than I, cannot fit into the straw that connects us to the digital river; not many, anyway.  

But I’ll try. Ta ta.

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