Heading West

Trip Start Dec 05, 2011
Trip End Feb 23, 2012

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Encosta caba girao

Flag of Portugal  , Madeira,
Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Heading West
Our drive today is to the most westerly point Ponto do Pargo which is apparently named because discoverer/explorer Zarco fished off this point and caught Bream hence Bream Point.
Our first stop Ponta do Sol; the sunniest spot on the island where the bananas grow down to the seashore. There were people in the sea today but we chickened out; speaking of which we saw chickens running around and turkeys displaying on the river bed down to the sea; quite a menagerie and parrots squalking but we don't know if they were wild or caged birds. The Portuguese like their caged birds as on many parks and village squares would be a small aviary of usually budgies or finches.
Here again alongside the natural rocky, pebbly shores were golden sands imported to provide 'proper' beaches inviting the tourist to sunbathe and swim in the sea in the releatively safe harbours. Further along the Atlantic waves crashed the shore and at Jardin do Mar ; that is Garden of the Sea, gigantic waves almost tsunami like rolled in and we discovered this was one of the top surfing spots in the world and every January International Championship Surfing competitions were held here. There were only two surfers today taking their time to judge which wave to ride. It looked perilously dangerous to us as there was no beach to surf to as such but heavy concrete cast rocks, you would certainly need to know your waves to surf here.
Driving is not for the feint hearted either; since our tour took us beyond the limit of the expressway, we took to the old roads which meander repeatedly inland, up and over the steep terrain, hairpin bends by the dozen, gradients of 1in3 needing first gear, and all this while coping with the mad portuguese drivers who speed with gay abandon whenever possible, suddenly stop to have a chat with a pedestrian-particularly the taxi drivers, and not forgetting the groups of dogs going walkies without their owners or any road sense. Driving here reminds Colin of driving in Italy where the majority of drivers are mad!!We did see several short tunnel sections obviously completed with EU money before the debt crisis, but now awaiting the viaducts to link them to complete these sections of new road to the southwest -on current evidence of EU chaos these may never be completed. A never to be forgotten experience and Colin would certainly not contemplate this drive in inclement weather.
The Levada walks look very strenuous and go steeply down the cliffside, with no walking poles we would not attempt them as going down on this slippery scree looks very dodgy. The scenery all along here was amazing and gave us some idea of what the real Madeira was like as it became more isolated and roads became single track with wizened old ladies walking blithely down the road with arms full of what looked like rushes, maybe to weave a basket with or thatch their own roofs. I wondered what the mortality age is here they all looked ancient and seemed very fit which I suppose they would have to be to manage the steep terrain and farm their terraces.
All in all a super day ...Bom dia.... a good day.
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