07 July 2012

On the Levada do Rei to Ribeiro Bonito

Levada do Rei is, probably, one of the most luxourious hikes that I had the pleasure to do in the mountains of Madeira. Since its beginning, near the water treatment plant of Quebradas, in S. Jorge, up to the end, in Ribeiro Bonito river bed, we walk along a misty primeval forest, deep in the heart of Laurissilva. It's a ten kilometres round tour along the typical Madeira enchanted forest. Or about three and a half hours in walking pace.
My hiking companion was talking about "Avatar", from James Cameron, and how much the ecological message within that movie was a strange paradox with the natural painting we were part of. According to her its message was quite simple: if we humans keep on despising the natural laws in a natural world in which bosom we also belong, the future will be our unquestionable extinction.
I really don't know why we started to talk about the film. Maybe the deep green forest we were in reminded her of the visually stunning natural scenarios of that multi-million dollar production. However that free association stops right there.
In a world where the word "sustainable" is breaking daily records on the written press, most of the times in a cry of despair, the "levadas" show to us all that is possible to disturb the natural equilibrium without destroying it.
And when we finally arrived to the starting point, about three hours later, we left behind a world of trees, flowers, birds and bugs. And a peaceful water channel running though it. A secular human work-of-art that confounds itself with the surrounding nature. And a creator of life.
Could this be the definitive sustainable human intervention?
Hundreds of years after their construction, the "levadas" are becoming a part of the natural ecosystem.
Picture taken with Nikon D300 and Sigma DC 18-50mm 1:2.8 EX Macro HSM Lens.
Post-processing in Adobe Photoshop CS3.
A major engineering achievement, the Madeira's secular irrigation system is a work-of-art. A testimony to human ingenuity and sustainable intervention in nature.
Picture taken with Nikon D300 and Sigma DC 18-50mm 1:2.8 EX Macro HSM Lens.
Post-processing in Adobe Photoshop CS3.
The "madre" (meaning "the spring") that feeds the Levada do Rei is located in the Ribeiro Bonito stream bed. Our hike ended here. Where the levada begins.
Picture taken with Nikon D300 and Sigma DC 18-50mm 1:2.8 EX Macro HSM Lens.
Post-processing in Adobe Photoshop CS3.
The author advancing through a serious thick jungle of Coroas-de-Henrique (Agapanthus praecox ssp. orientalis) during the first expedition to Ribeiro Bonito. We could hardly see an inch in front of our eyes :-)
Picture taken with Nikon D300 and Sigma DC 18-50mm 1:2.8 EX Macro HSM Lens.
Post-processing in Adobe Photoshop CS3.