this is the archive for the ‘in portugal’ category:


baías da agualva

while we’re on it, here are some photos of another trail (pr2ter) we hiked, earlier that same day, this time by the sea.


as you can see, the photos are much sunnier than those of the other hike — such is the weather on the azores. one minute it’s so foggy you can’t see anything in front of you, and the next thing you know the sun is out and you’re actually getting quite hot! either way, these were beautiful to hike and i can’t wait to go back and do the rest of them — in all the islands! maybe one island per year would be a good plan? :D

hiking mistérios negros

we finally made it to azores! it’s no secret that i love volcanoes, lava, and all the things that come with molten rock being spewed from the earth, so i knew we were in for a treat.

we rented a car to drive around terceira island, but to properly enjoy the scenery and nature, walking is still the best. so we picked PRC1TER, a trail that featured some volcanic stuff and despite the everlasting fogs and lack of proper hiking equipment, we went for it on our last day — and it was glorious!

it started out wet but easy enough…

but pretty soon we were climbing up and down the spiky blocks of stony rough lava, hanging on to tree branches for balance and barely able to see the path. this is where the trail gets its name, the “dark mysteries” are these hills made of aʻā lava that have not yet been completely covered by vegetation.

sometimes a hidden lake would pop up in the middle of the cryptomeria forest, and if you stopped there for a minute, you could only hear your breath and the frogs.

the way back straddled the edge of fields and forests, over dreamy stone fences where wild strawberries grew.

we ended up soaked after 5km, but happy beyond words. take me back please! :)

giving blood

despite not being a big fan of needles, i’ve been giving blood since they started doing blood drives in university, back in the day. after moving abroad, we started doing them once a year, our christmas vacations back home always punctuated by a detour to give blood, followed by a trip to the dentist (in that order, otherwise no blood donation!).

ever since moving back though, we’ve been doing them more often, helped by the nearness of faro’s hospital and the nice people that work in the blood department there. although we barely know them, the regularly spaced meetings and intimate questions help to quickly break the ice. even if the boy isn’t giving blood on that specific day (sometimes they don’t need his “special” blood), the doctor will still ask how the husband has been doing… quickly followed by a very pro forma “and have you had sex with anyone else lately”? XD

besides the good karma and not having to pay medical fees, after giving blood 10 times one also gets a mini-diploma… although, in true bureaucratic fashion, it ends up arriving much later. still, it’s pretty neat and this week it was my turn to pick up mine!

i know it’s just a piece of fancy paper, but it still feels like a pat in the back for a job well done. besides, now i’m a certified people’s saver! :)

speaking of which, did you hear the news about mr. harrison, the man with the golden arm? he has a rare antibody in his blood, from which a treatment for rh incompatibility could be made in australia. he retired from blood donating last week at 81, after 1173 donations — and after having saved over 2 million babies with the “vaccine” made from his blood — the same vaccine that my mom took after having me, as our bloods’ rh types are incompatible.

hurray for science and blood donors!

salicornia

moving south and next to a salt marsh has introduced a dozen new species of animals and plants into our vocabulary. geckos and chameleons are cute, as are the skittish flamingos that eat all the pink algae in the salt ponds. but it’s not just new animals that inhabit these salty places, special plants too — like salicornia!

also called sea asparagus or pickleweed, salicornia is a halophyte, a plant that is adapted to salty environments. when you bite into it, the saltiness immediately floods your mouth… like eating bits of the sea! the flavour is pleasant enough and the surprise saltiness in every bite makes for a fun addition to salads and other dishes.

it’s a bit of a gourmet thing these days, which is funny because for much of history, salicornia was considered a worthless weed. it reminds me of a Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote on the back of one of my field notes:

“What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”

sounds about right!

maios

in the north of portugal, the first of may is usually greeted with “maias”, showy yellow flowers that bloom around this time of the year which the local people hang in doors… but in the south, the tradition is much more convoluted! meet the maios:

they’re like “scarecrows” that the local people make and sit in the streets or in their doorstep, usually accompanied by a short rhyme telling of a wise tale or sometimes a bit of political criticism. we passed these in a nearby town that was filled with them in every corner… and so we had to stop to have a look. :)