Thursday, June 28, 2018

fim do mundo

Nunu delivered my Smart car at 10, and I set off toward Capelinhos, where a volcano erupted 61 years ago from 1957-8, partially burying a lighthouse and setting off a wave of Azorean immigration to New England.

Capelinhos is at the very western end of Faial. It's an easy drive from Horta on narrow roads with lots of hydrangeas. The approach to the lighthouse is bleak and the entrance to the subterranean museum is austere, like you're entering a bunker.
The volcano was offshore, but after it erupted, lava flows connected it to the rest of Faial. Refugee visas for 1500 families were approved in a bill sponsored by then-Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy. Eventually that was raised to 2000 heads of household. New England has had a centuries-old relationship with families migrating to and from Portugal.
Here's what it looks like today. You can climb the steep cliffs, but wear closed-toed shoes if you do. It's windy out there!

The fabulous sunken lobby. I meant to return for a drink at the sleek bar but forgot.
First stop is a 3D movie about volcanoes and how the Azores were formed. When the continents were all one mass, the Azores were the center of civilization. Atlantis....

The display of lava rocks, petrified wood, and semi-precious stones was lit like The Shape of Water.

This rotating globe shows the ring of fire and all the active and submerged volcanoes in the world. That's Hawaii on the left.

Climbing the 140 steps to the top of the lighthouse.

On the way back from the volcano, I passed Bar Fim do Mundo, the bar at the end of the world. Somehow I resisted stopping. Who needs the end of the world, when you have Twitter?
Here's how I imagine the end of the world. At least here air and water are clean and the soil is fertile.

Wildflowers in an explosion of colors.

I drove on a ridiculously foggy road up to the caldera, the crater of the main dormant volcano. It's in the national park and filled with hiking trails. But it was freezing and windy, with no visibility, like walking into a cloud.

This was the view as I descended.
Even the rest areas have hydrangeas. That's Pico in the distance. Still haven't seen the top of it.
The famous windmills! And a lovely view of Horta coming around the bend.
Another decaying house. Not sure if the women in the paintings are historic figures or working girls.
I'll leave you with a poem by Veiga Simões, posted in the restaurant where I had lunch. I can translate it in butchered Portuguese, but here's a better version.
At dinner, I sat next to a Belgian couple I'd run into looking for the Smart car agency yesterday. They're trying to visit all the European islands in search of Atlantis! (Which reminded me I haven't finished my 50 states quest.) We talked about the sad state of democracy, in English because I don't pretend to speak Flemish. When dinner was over, we realized we're on the same ferry tomorrow to Pico. Also that we are staying at the same lovely guesthouse....It's a small world, after all.