Arriving into Quinta Do Lorde was such a pleasant surprise – what a pretty harbor – the sweetness of it seemed in such contrast to the brutality of our crossing. As soon as we had moored up we were greeted warmly by two lovely sailors who had been reading our blog. It is weird and wonderful when strangers greet you like a long lost friend and of course because they have been reading the blog they know a lot about us but we know nothing about them. They gave us a hug and a lovely bottle of wine and said they were sorry we had had such a difficult crossing. How unexpected.
At first not too unhappy to be pinned down by heavy weather in Quinta do Lorde. We thought it would only be a few days and we could rest and clean the boat. Cleaning the boat was to include wiping up soup. We had decided that the best place for some of the ships stores was the compartment under our bed. It is very large and accessible. One of the cartons of soup was in one of those Tetrapak cartons and it had been laid on top of some cans – just too high so that when the heavy bed lid was laid down on it – Squish Squash – the soup smashed out – we didn’t know until we opened the bed – urghh not a job we wanted to add to the list – slippery, slimy, cold, vegetable soup all over most of the other cans.
Having poured over the weather data it soon became clear we would be there for a week or more. Plenty of time to clean up soup.
Not so bad you may think – but the weather was so appalling with torrential rain and electric storms that it was impossible to do any of the normal tourist things. Except for one trip to a stunning botanical Garden. The pictures are better than words
Fishing for ladders? Why was this in our headline for this blog? Well one night we had our lovely steps outside Magic – they are the perfect height to board – and on waking we noticed that they were gone. Where? In the sea of course…we had a look and gave up on them – however for the price of a Magic Polo Shirt the Marina guys were happy to spend time fishing with a large rusty hook for our steps and they caught them and brought them ashore – we were delighted …
As always we made the most of what we could – we hired a car for a few days and toured the Island, we visited some of the property for sale in Quinta do Lorde and we made some new friends – we didn’t do Madeira the way that most would (of course!) –
We decided to drive to Porto Moniz on the far side of the Island –(reflective note …I wonder what it is that makes me want to leave where I am and go to the extreme opposite side!) On the drive we thought we would see a lot of the incredible lush country but disappointingly that only came in glimpses, as the Madeira road network is mostly though chains of long dark concrete tunnels. These tunnels do burst out into incredible and beautiful vistas of breathtaking coastal drops or lush steep hills with exotic plants and flowers – Bananas and those Orange Dragon flower thingy’s …and cows!
The Madeiran people seem to love their cows. Madeira looked to me like the Island in the Jurassic Park movies and I would have not been surprised to see a T Rex Thundering behind our car as we escaped, just in time into the next tunnel. The rain had created that low hanging warm wet mist that movie directors would love for the tension and drama. On our drive we were stopped half way to Porto Moniz. The town we stopped in was not a town you would have stopped in. The police at a roadblock stopped us. They informed us that today there was a car rally and that this town was the end of a time trial. So, as we were stopped we decided we would watch the cars arrive and have lunch in the town. Wow… the cars were fantastic – straight out of my teenage years – Ford Escorts and Cortina’s and Lancias – all adapted for rally driving. The atmosphere was great and it seemed that all the locals – all 12 of them had come out to watch. There was one old man who liked looking at May he was very friendly and seemed to be yellow and have a shrunken head. His face was so wrinkly that I couldn’t see his eyes but he was warm – he smiled and I think – winked. We thought we would have lunch and approached a building that had the optimistic sign – “Restaurant” On entering it was clear that, although there were tables and chairs – food had not been served here for many years. The ‘not’ restaurant was linked though to a ‘not’ shop that was like walking into a time machine. It was well stocked with plastic dolls and toys and ornaments and kitchen wear and everything was neatly wrapped in polythene sheets, which had yellowed and gone hard over the years. The wrapped things stared out at me – They seemed to have been incarnated in the shop c1974 –
As we left the shop and restaurant a man appeared to see if there was anything we wanted – we thanked him and I was a little disappointed we didn’t buy anything – Mark said that was ridiculous but – you know the purchase of an apple peeler or classic 1970s plastic doll may well help this small rural economy. We decided to invest our attention in the bar opposite. Several locals we sitting on the wall outside and there was a party atmosphere. It reminded me a lot of the hill climbs and car rallies in the ‘70s in Northern Ireland – the locals in the small towns loving the excitement.
We entered the bar and watched what the locals were having. So, cheese sandwich and two Ponches it is then! Now Ponche is a Madeira thing and it is great if it is made fresh. Freshly squeezed juice of something – usually Mandarin Orange or Passion Fruit or both – with a, burn your throat out 70% proof white rum and honey (the latter ingredient is – I think, for the throat pain) It smells like Mandarin Orange and tastes like fire.
One small glass of this is a great way to set you up for an afternoon of driving around pin head bends – Mark – who was driving, took one small sip and handed his glass to me – I thoroughly enjoyed both! I am so happy Mark is such a grown up.
We set off happy to Porto Moniz where we were going to swim in the natural pools – they looked stunning in the photos – natural pools of warm sea water created by the lava flow. But when we arrived the gale force winds and sea spray made them look cold and miserable so we drove on. We were stopped for an hour on the way back though the center of the Island as there was a large bolder in the middle of the road – a landslide. The rain had caused serious landslides on many roads. As we drove back into Quinta do Lorde we noticed the sea had a band of brown around the island the rain had washed the terracotta Madeiran earth into the sea and the effect was a weird scene like something out of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
The days melted too and soon we had been there for 9 days – we were starting to feel trapped and Quinta do Lorde is a weird little place to be trapped. It is a ‘resort’ built by an American company for £100milion. It has a hotel, a church, a shop and a small restaurant/bar. There is a light house (that isn’t a light house) and a marina (that is a marina) When you first arrive it is charming – like something straight out of a picture book – you can see the architect’s vision. But it is a little claustrophobic for us and lacks authentic charm. We viewed several properties which are on the market for – c1.5M Euro for a house and 400-600Euro for an apartment. Not for us. But we did wish them well and really hope that this little place will fill up with people who will fall in love with it.
We have enjoyed Madeira – it is lush and green and awesome but it is ….
Time to Go!!!
Now a short cut….
We left on Friday 23rd – not as early as we would like because we were checking our electrics!! Ho hum – it’s too dull to tell about it but it is all ok now
We left at 2.30pm and sailed away into the Atlantic – and you know what – we had a relaxing and wonderful sail – for two days and two nights – nothing broke and nothing was scary – just gentle waves, stunning sunsets, some rain and lightning and a clear and silvery moon that lit our way
This trip is the longest we have done just the two of us and we were pleased that it all went really well – we ate well – slept well and sailed well
We arrived in Las Palmas just as the sun was rising and we were amazed to be greeted by Liam and Liz whom we had met in Gibraltar – they were on the harbor wall shouting a warm welcome and they had a bottle of Bacardi for me!! They followed us in and helped the Marina staff with our lines. The marina is packed full of boats and we were squeezed into a narrow space on T pontoon.
Another warm welcome in a strange port – it is so unexpected and so lovely.
One of the many special things we have been privileged to experience is fond farewells and warm welcomes.
We were shattered and did some cleaning and then went to bed to rest.
The ARC experience now begins. We have four weeks in Las Palmas – planning, people, parties and preparations.
There are some beautiful boats here and Magic has disappeared in a cloud of 50ft+ yachts – we get the feeling we are going to learn a lot