Enjoying Horta

I (Dena) just folded a long grocery store receipt and had one of those thrilling moments that is so very prosaic when it comes down to it.

The receipt is in Portuguese. To figure out what it says, I have to apply my understanding of Romance languages (though English is not exclusively, well…that’s a long side conversation…and my grasp of Spanish is significantly un-fluent but definitely helping) for terms like alho (garlic) and queijo (cheese) and frita (fried). But then, there’s all the rest.

Back streets
picture perfect

I love this moment, this way of being, this foreignness as a comprehensible puzzle. This level of engagement with people and places and, yes, even receipts.

My love!
A G&T at Peter’s

I thought about avoiding the most highly trafficked sailor’s destination, in the mindset that we’re least likely to meet interesting locals there, but the family that created and runs it shares my maternal family name, Azevedo, so we went to Peter’s Sport Cafe, had a couple of the famous (and cheap) Gin do Mars, and ate a stunningly meaty grilled tuna steak that balanced on the edge of enjoyment for these two mainly-not-meat-eaters before tumbling decisively onto the side of relishing the flavor and appetite-fulfillment. The roasted sweet potatoes were also surprisingly pleasurable and there was almost enough sauce for these sauce-hounds.

From the cafe
The salty decorations are also a draw.

We took our first walks somewhat cautiously since Bermuda proved that atrophy at sea was a thing.

Stairs to nowhere
In an uphill neighborhood we explored for no particular reason.

Now, I don’t want to spend too much time talking/complaining about this part. Look for a Boat Projects post about how it all went. It all started with a rich fuck who fucked up, though, and ended with us being forced to raft on the marina wall through a contrary wind that eventually tore a section of our teak caprail apart.

Not where we want to be
After the rafting, before the damage.

But…the beauty. From Horta’s harbor, the ever-changing, constantly engaging scenery is the next island over, Pico.

Pico from Horta
Bao Dea!

Not kidding.

My sunset

It’s spectacular. There are so many more.

Pico's not getting old
The pico of Pico

We addressed the damage to the caprail like we do whenever possible, with materials and chemicals we already have aboard and the patience to do it right. That meant our mornings were boat work and our afternoons were for shopping (provisioning a little at a time) and exploration.

At the marina
The marina balustrade

We didn’t have to go far for wonderful sights…

Azorean Whale boat
…they sailed right on by!

…but we needed to stretch our legs and did a couple of great epic-hikes.

The first one started with several kilometers to a buffet lunch because, well, fuel. Then we made our way back to the volcano we planned to climb and conferred briefly about whether we had more in us. It’s a good thing we ate so much and then walked ourselves back into climbing trim because, yeah, wow! The first set of steps off about 300 meters of beach got us up to a hundred-and-something-year-old overlook, and the second got us up to the top of Monte da Guia for a view of the double-caldera that we’d missed by coming into Horta in the dark.

Caldeira do inferno
We passed right by this in the dead of night

Plus a handful of gorgeous Horta views.

From the top of Monte da Guia
Looking north from the top of Mt. do Guia

And yet, Monte Queimado stood exactly between Monte do Guia and our very happily anchored Cetacea on that entire hike! We made our way down via the long, winding, road and its lovely switchback resting spot.

The hike back down Guia
…damn we look good!

We were hooked, though. We had to climb Monte Queimado and see Cetacea from the heights!

Dena's assent
Dena on the climb

These steps were less protected from the sun by lush greenery, but also seemed less likely to shed us without ado. We climbed and climbed, with occasional breaks, and reached the top only to meet a Canadian family of three from Montreal heading the opposite way. A very friendly and engaging guy gave us an excuse to thoroughly catch our breath and the rest of the trip was a stroll to…exactly what we wanted to see!

Cetacea from Burnt Mountain
S/VSN-E Cetacea at anchor in Porto Horta, Azores, Portugal

Downhill was an exercise in control over the rock-strewn trail, but also an exhilarating pleasure.

Us in it...
Us at home

Way back in 1998, in the year that James went on the Warped Tour and I started working for Toys in Babeland, in the year that we watched the Around Alone race via the fastest internet that was available then to poor people, in the year that we started our definitive list of features our future boat would have…way back then, we knew that what we wanted to do was go to strange places, struggle pleasurably through the markets, and go home with exciting finds that we would then cook on our own stove, in our own home on the water. That what we wanted was to be at home in the world, wherever we were.

Here we are, using Portuguese options on our home’s stove and in our home’s oven, making and eating the most amazing pizza ever made in Horta.

Cast iron pizza in the Azores
Azorian Cast Iron Pizza!

We are at home in the world.


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