This article continues on from My Amazing WWOOFing Trip to the Açores (Part 1).
Did I mention that I did a hell of a lot of walking? Weather dependent, I must’ve walked near enough 15km a day. I was lucky that the place I was staying was a stone’s throw away from one of the most famous landmarks on the island – the Sete Cidades crater. I mentioned the crater in my previous article but in this one I’m going to talk about my trip there. Inside the crater are the two lakes – Lagoa de Verde and Lagoa de Azul (green lake and blue lake) – and there’s a very famous legend about them:
There once was a Princess who fell in love with a shepherd on the hills of the crater. Her father was a mean-tempered old King and when he found out about them he forbade her from ever seeing him again. On their last day together in the crater they cried in each other’s arms and they cried so much that their tears formed two lakes, one which was green after the Princess’ green eyes and the other blue like the shepherd’s blue eyes. You can see why such as legend would come about from this photo:
On that day I walked from this side of the crater to the opposite side by following the ridge. Here are some piccies from that awesome day:
The island has a number of craters with lakes inside and I visited quite a few of them during my stay. On one afternoon I went with Raquel and her little boy to Lagoa do Fogo (the Lake of Fire). Raquel told me that she had been told that it was so named because the lake was shaped like an ‘F’, which you can somewhat see here:
We found a little beach inside the crater and had a picnic before I set off and went for a solo walk around the lake. The first part of the route circled the lake and then entered a valley thick with forest with a water channel that weaved through it. Unfortunately, most of the natural forest here had been bulldozed and Japanese cedars were planted in their place. I think that this was the government’s attempt at creating a sustainable source for wood, but it made me wonder what the forest used to look like all those years ago.
Towards the end of my stay on the island I had the amazing opportunity to go on a birding tour. It turned out that Gerby and Raquel (my hosts) actually run a bird touring business around the archipelago. I’m not that interested in birds but the tour went across the whole island and I got to see things that I never would have otherwise. On the day of the tour we left the house as the sun was rising and I remember thinking to myself ‘man, this is cool… so so cool’. I learnt and saw many of the island’s endemic bird species and plants, such as the Azorean bullfinch and the amazing laurel forests. Here are some of my pics:
This was the view as we left a town called Povoaçao and headed into the region of the highest mountain, Pico da Vara. I had planned to climb the mountain during my stay but the weather was against us and I simply ran out of days. Pico da Vara (1, 103m elevation) is up in the clouds in this shot below:
After our visit to the mountains we then travelled to Lagoa da Furnas because Gerby had been tipped off that there were some glossy ibis there. We didn’t spot any ibis but the lake itself and the hot springs by it were amazing! I had never actually seen hot springs before so I was quite taken aback by it all.
After Lake Furnas it was time to head home. On the way back the sun was actually setting and the sky was full of cloud formations like I’ve never seen before. I think I must’ve been the happiest person on the island that day.
On my very last day, I went with Raquel and her little boy back to Sete Cidades and we spent the afternoon climbing trees and skimming stones on the lake. It was a perfect way to end my stay on the island.
My trip to the Açores is one of the most amazing things I have done in my life so far. I was hesitant about booking it to begin with and I actually sent Raquel an e-mail saying that I had changed my mind – it can take a bit of nerve to travel to a country all by yourself where you know nobody and I just bottled. But what swayed it for me was a colleague at work called Ivan. I told him that I was nervous about taking the plunge and he was like ‘you’re crazy, just go, book it now and go’. So I did, and woah, what an experience I had!
This particular trip made me realise that I rarely think for myself. For example, if I have to make a decision, even just a simple one, then I will ask other people, such as my partner, my friends and my family what *they* think I should do and then I will do that instead. Just like when I changed my mind about going, it was a work colleague who made me change my mind back. When I was on the island my family and friends were not a simple phone call away, so I had to make my own decisions. I found this quite hard to begin with but over time I just *knew* what I wanted to do and I just did it. It made me feel calmer and a lot more in touch with myself.
I wrote these two articles because I want to inspire people to go travelling and to make changes to their lives. Yes, it is pretty scary being surrounded by strangers in a foreign land and suddenly finding that you are alone and *you* are having to think and be independent. Through that experience alone you will grow to know yourself and I highly recommend it! Just do it :)
If you have any questions or just want to get in touch, please e-mail me at [email protected]