There is simply too much to write about. I’m bursting with the beauty of these islands, the people, and our experiences. It’s overwhelming. We have met a number of (mostly) Europeans who sail the Azores each summer and store their boats here in the winter, returning again and again. I could do that.
I somewhat envy those who only have two or three weeks here. We’ve met European sailors who’ve spent two weeks to reach the Azores, will spend only three sailing and touring the islands, and will spend another two sailing back to England or France or Germany. At least they have a deadline.
We’ve moved our deadline twice and I’ve already decided I’d like to come back here again and again. I told EW once we complete this Atlantic circle, I’d come back to the Azores each summer and return to the Caribbean in the winter if he would agree. I love these islands that much.
Their beauty is breathtaking and like nothing I’ve seen before. These volcanic islands have wonderful soil for farming, so the early settlers cut the forests, sold or used the wood and made beautiful pastures, broken up by stone walls and hydrangea hedges.
Still, there are some forests that have been re-planted, and natural parks to protect them.
There are impressive cliffs, with tiny villages at the bottom, such as Faja do Ouvidor, Faja dos Cubres, and Faja de Sao Joao. “Faja” is the name for the land upon which these villages are built – land that crumbled, crashed, washed down from the cliff tops to the sea. Some have no roads directly to the village, and folks had to walk along a narrow path just above the sea from one Faja to another. We did that in Sao Jorge.
The towns are beautiful: clean, with lovely buildings, parks, flowers, and playgrounds (and plenty of public, clean restrooms). The sidewalks are nearly all made of small cubed dark stone, with white stone designs. Some designs are simply flowing patterns, others commemorate the islands’ history, still others were created in the present day and indicate the type of business beyond the sidewalk.
In front of the optometrist: a dolphin and spectacles. In front of the bank: dollars and euros. In front of the computer store: @.
In Angra, a park for children, and one for everyone.
And the people – warm, friendly, helpful, and funny. In all the time we’ve been here, we’ve seen one unfriendly Azorean. One. We haven’t yet made it to Flores and still hope to get there. In Atlantic Islands, the cruising guide for this region, author Anne Hammick said of the people of Flores, “Even amongst the friendly Azoreans they stand out …” How could they be any more friendly than those we’ve met so far?
Right now, we are still at anchor in Angra. Our outboard motor died in Sao Jorge and this was the closest island with the potential for parts and repair. Pedro – the guyfor Terceira has ordered the part from Lisbon, and we are happily enjoying Angra and Terceria. We have plans to visit Praia de Vitoria and a deep volcanic cave while we wait. In the meantime, I’m working to catch you up on our adventures, EW is learning “That’s the Glory of Love”, working on the boat, and relaxing. Life is good in the Azores.
A quick note about our cruise schedule: We have decided not to sail up to Lisbon, but to focus our mainland Europe experience on the south Atlantic coasts of Portugal and Spain, areas we can explore in 4 – 5 weeks. We have also taken any African stop off the list. Gambia is simply too close to the ebola crisis. It makes no sense for us to visit there this year. So when EW finally is able to drag me from the Azores, we’ll visit new friends Luis and Julio in Algarve, and enjoy more of Portugal and a bit of Spain before sailing to Madera, the Canaries, and the Cape Verdes.