We are still stuck in the Azores, waiting for a sheave box to arrive. Indeed without this little plastic piece we cannot use the staysail halyard which enables to hoist a stormjib or a staysail. After the weather we have encountered to get here it seems to us silly to leave without it. But meanwhile we use or time to get out the marina and explore the island the best we can.
The first impression left by the local Portuguese is friendly, open and helpful people; most of them will speak either a bit of Spanish, English or French, and even if they don´t they will understand you at the condition you speak with a lot of “checheche”. The islanders produce many excellent products: cheese, meat, vegetables, so that being stuck here ends up being rather pleasant.
Pico´s mountain, culminating some 1600 meters high
The island at first sight ressembled to Ireland with its green and rocky landscape, steep cliffs and bushes. But when approaching it, the visitor faces a vegetation mixed from tropical and northern weather: bamboos, aloe veras, pineaples and palm trees growing next to pine trees, lichens and spiny bushes. One thing is sure the Azores do not risk to lack of fresh water: from the summit of the island rivers come down in cascade down to the sea, at the top of Pico´s mountain (Pico is the island that we contemplate from the marina) snow can be seen when the clouds are gone, and finally in the week we spent here it did not rain only one day or two. In three words “we like it”. It is amusing considering how the different islands we visited since October differ: the arid Lanzarote, the green and tropical Antigua and finally the mixed green Faial. When the landscape in the Canaries was red, black, brown with black and white houses, in the Carribean blue and green with multicolor houses, here it is grey and green and black and white house. Although the houses have the same color as in the Canaries you could not confuse an Azorian house from a Canarian: the orange clay roofs are typical here and usually the walls are ornamented with curvy shapes or contrasted walls of black stones and white cement.
Horta´s architecture in what looked like the poshy neighbourhood
The central point of Faial is Horta, with its harbour famous for sailing boats who each year stop here before continuing towards the Med or n0rthern Europe. The harbour is covered of paintings from the boats who passed here and you can easily spend a full day looking at all of them trying to find a known boat. It is apparently bad luck to leave the harbour without leaving your trace. We became sligtly supersticious after our last experience (left Martinique on Friday and we broke, Zebulon left Guadeloupe on Friday, they got bashed up in the storm for four days…) and so left our mark too.
Horta´s pier from Zebulon´s mast
As we mentioned Zebulon, the third Glenans´boat had a harder crossing than us. They spent four days in the storm, running in front of gigantic waves, breaking sails and generally being shaken around in their polyester tupperware. So we escorted them inside the harbour: they arrived with a staysail rigged as a main (the mainsail having been ripped from leech to luff in two places). For us it was a pleasure to welcome friends who did not hesitate to turn back to help us when we stopped in Guadeloupe.
Zebulon´s arrival to Horta
Last Sunday our presence in the marina was not required (nothing to do on the boat, no help to give to our friend) and so we took or chance and rented a car for an express tour of the island. We were recommended to drive around the island anti-clockwise, visit the Western point that extended in a volcanic irruption some sixty years ago. On our way we stopped for a typical lunch and admire the view from some of the many splendid “Miradouro”. Funny enough, these “Miradouro” are all equipped with a stone barbecue which made us think that goiung around with a machette and coal you could survive: chop the cow, light up the fire and eat excellent meat in a wonderful environment.
Enjoying the view from a “Miradouro”
On the way back we drove up to the summit of the island hoping to climb high enough to be above the clouds. We did not manage… we could only see 20 meters in front of us, far enough to spot the odd cow standing on the road.
“Slow down it looks like there is… a cow? a cow on the road?!…”
“How high is it?” (extension of the island)
The recent western extension of Faial
The pine tree forest around the vulcano of Faial
It is indeed very nice in here, but on the other hand we are waiting forward to our piece to arrive as soon as possible and to go out sailing again, this time towards the continent where hopefully our friends and family have not forgotten us. For the moment… we will stay in Horta until next notice.