April 18, 2017

Faial: Horta

We arrived in Horta on the day before Easter, and most businesses were closed for the holiday weekend. On Sunday the town was practically deserted. We did a lot of walking around but it felt strange to see the streets mostly empty and everything shut down.

On Monday things were back to normal, with shops open and lots of people out doing things. In the morning we ran some errands and had lunch at CASA (my favorite place to eat in Horta and possibly on Earth). In the afternoon we went on a whale watching trip and had good luck: we saw a fin whale, a blue whale, and many frolicsome dolphins. It was a small group, with only five of us passengers on the boat plus the pilot and two naturalist guides.

Then back to CASA for some dinner, where Eugénio finished us off with some homemade tangerine liqueur for Mary and something called nêveda for me. Needless to say we slept well.

On Tuesday we rented a car and toured around the island, stopping at the botanical garden on the outskirts of Horta, making a few side trips to little villages and scenic beaches. We had a good lunch in Cedros on the north end of the island, followed by a hike around the Capelinhos volcano.

In the evening it was back to CASA for our last meal there (they’re closed on Wednesdays and we leave on Thursday) and to meet up with my friends Angie Reed and Pedro Escobar for dinner. Angie is an American artist who lives in Cedros, and Pedro is a local guy who used to live there too but now lives in Horta. Both of them were very kind to me the last time I was here, and it was really great to catch up with them. Pedro was my connection to the whale boats on my last trip, introduced to me by filmmaker Luís Bicudo (who made a good documentary about the old whalers). Pedro and Luís and another friend of theirs recently started Our Island, a business specializing in eco-friendly adventure and historical/cultural expeditions. After Eugénio finally got us to leave CASA, Pedro took us to see their new office, and Luís, who lives up above it, came down so I got to finally meet him as well. They are lovingly restoring a beautiful space that had been a hardware store for 65 years. After much ooh-ing and ah-ing over the amazing old built-in cabinetry, we finally said our goodbyes and headed home to bed.