Running at 80 percent
Hanging out on a rock beach on the north shore of Sao Miguel Island
I woke up this morning not great….but better. I’m an engineer and we like to quantify things, so let’s say I ran at around 80 percent today. Tomorrow, I hope to do even better. While still coughing it’s not as bad and I don’t feel exhausted all the time. Laurie is better and back to her old self. Improvement, is good.
We watch the rain while eating breakfast and expect it to rain all day. As we finish breakfast, it miraculously stops raining and the fog starts to lift. We weren’t sure what we were going to do today with a 100 percent rain forecast….but it seems we caught a break.
Our 5 euro a day rental car. So is it the new Bluesmobile or what?
We head out for the only tea plantation in all of Europe, and it’s less than a mile from where we stay. We spend a few hours going through the tea factory, seeing the tea fields, and drinking the actual tea grown there. Tea leaves actually come off of what they call a tree and I call a shrub. It is dried and ground up to make different types of tea. They types are dictated by where on the tree the leaves come from and how long they are dried before processing.
After our tea adventures, we spend several hours driving slowly from small town to small town on the north coast of Sao Miguel. The towns have names we can’t pronounce and are usually only a mile or two apart. The main industry in the area is farming, and there are crops and cows all around us. It is a gorgeous and temperate area. It sort of reminds me of Iceland…..lots of wind and rain, but 30 degrees or more warmer.
They call them tea trees, but I find them to be more bush like
The island is of volcanic origin, and many of the structures are made of cut volcanic stone. As with all cultures, they worked with what they had on hand. We visited a church cemetery and the grave stones were also made of volcanic stone. It’s been a long time since there was an eruption here was in something like 1563, mere miles from where we are staying. Hopefully it will be a while before there is another.
We go down narrow roads to places we don’t expect cars to normally travel. The roads see so little traffic that they have moss growing on the actual road. These narrow, incredibly steep roads (some are over 25 percent grades, and one I’m guessing was around 40) are tricky to drive on and require cooperation between drivers IF you actually meet someone else. It’s pretty remote over here. But the views are fantastic.
View from an overlook near our house
We have to do laundry and the only laundromats on the island are in Ponta Delgada, which is around 30 minutes away. It is the major city on this island and the largest city in all of the Azores. Population of the city is around 71,000 people. The entire island has a population of around 140,000 people, and is 10 miles wide and 39 miles long. Other than in the city, they’re spread out quite a bit.
We stop for fuel just outside of Ponta Delgada, where we buy gasoline for around 7 U.S. dollars a gallon. Prices for fuel are similar to other places in Europe. We continue on to the only open laundromat on the island on a Saturday night.
The mall.....has a whale
We are on an island approximately 1000 miles from the mainland of Portugal. We are literally in the middle of the Atlantic ocean. So we join the locals in their Saturday night ritual…..we go to the mall! That’s where the laundromat is…..at the mall. We find it in the parking garage at the mall and wind up in a very crowded laundry, burning around 3 hours. Not what we planned but what had to be done.
After laundry was complete, we went up and had dinner at the mall food court. Now before you judge too harshly, it was actually pretty good. The food stands in the mall used locally produced vegetables, beef, meats, etc. They’re really big on using local stuff here. The quality of the food was very good, and the prices were on par or less than having fast food in the U.S. So I had my birthday dinner (yep….it’s my birthday) at a mall food court in the Azores. I have to admit, that’s pretty rare.
We headed back to our apartment to finish out the evening and then head to bed. The weather here is totally unpredictable, and dictates what activities we will choose. I have no idea which way we’ll head tomorrow morning. We’ll decide that then. Be sure to check out the gallery below. Goodnight everyone!