We’re staying in a collection of houses perched on the side of a steep, sea facing hill that plunges down into the Atlantic.
The hospitality is provided by a very lovely lady called Ligia. She shared a house with my girlfriend many years ago and now teaches English in Sao Paulo. She tries to work two days a week which supports her lifestyle on this gorgeous island with her pooch Juginio. Ligia has made us feel at home in a way that has touched our hearts, we feel so cosy in our little cliff top idyll listening to the sounds of the boats coming and going, the horns of ships, sunsets – right now there are neighbours singing Brazilian songs, a guitar sounding sonorously, crickets chirruping.
The neighbours have been welcoming to what is an almost comical extent. Ligia says that she likes the fact that English people respect each other’s privacy, but to us it’s lovely to see people dart to and fro between each other’s houses. It doesn’t even matter that we don’t speak the language, I manage to chat away in my limited Spanish and understand a lot of what is said because Portuguese is a mixture of Spanish and French. Baffy makes a go of speaking her very good French just to show that she’s making an effort, then chats away in English – people reply in Portuguese and nobody understands each other. Ligia translates when she’s here but when she isn’t none of it matters because everybody just smiles and hardly a beat is skipped. You get the idea, it’s chaos which suits the place perfectly, the air stays scented and the flowers face the sun.
The neighbours are a right mix, schoolteachers, a Brazilian traditional music singer, a CEO of a Hotel Chain that has a wage bill of more than a million pounds per month, the owner of a cake making business, there are people that come just for the weekend and people that stay all week, everybody just gets on. We have been showered with wonderful advice and things to do, George the Hotel CEO taught us fishing which provided a clutch of meals of fresh fish, we were given sea canoes to paddle about in have been taken to restaurants that other tourists might just have missed. We have also been pointed in the right direction for idyllic waterfalls and island walks. All in all people here are pretty accommodating.
Tomorrow I aim to hike up the local peak Baepi. It’s not the biggest on the island (there are peaks of just under 1400 metres here – to put that in perspective the highest thing on the British Isles is Ben Nevis at 1344 metres) but it does have a footpath up it.