13 August 2013

The Golden Island

This is the name that we give around here to the island of Porto Santo, nickname given due to the perfect nine kilometer beach with gold-coloured sand extending from East to West along the South coast of the island.
Once the home place of Christopher Columbus and his wife (Filipa Perestrello, the daughter of the Portuguese governor of the island), during his stay in Portugal, Porto Santo now lives from and for the tourism.
As I said once, August is a  month to avoid for vacations in Porto Santo. But this also stands true for many touristic areas along the Southern Europe.
However, during the present Summer things are somehow calm in the island. At least, when we compare it to previous years. There's plenty of people during the day on the streets of Vila Baleira and a good nightlife, And all of that without being particularly oppressive.
A vision of the Porto Santo South coast, from West to East, in a picture taken a few hours ago, near the Miradouro das Flores (Flowers Belvedere), and depicting the city of Vila Baleira already lit for the night time. The golden beach of the island is visible in the picture, in almost complete extension.
Picture taken with Nikon Coolpix P7100 and post-processed in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, ver. 2.3 and Adobe Photoshop Elements, ver. 2.0.

09 August 2013

Levada do Castelejo

Not all the levadas in Madeira traverse the high mountains and snake only across the pristine primeval Laurissilva forest.. Despite being born mostly that way, many quickly find their path, across gentler mountain slopes, to the lower altitude agricultural fields, thus allowing the trekkers an easier approach to an activity that could be, otherwise and in particular situations, hazardous by nature.
The Levada do Castelejo is one of that kind.
Starting the walk at the small village of Cruz, near Terra Baptista, on the Northern coast of Madeira, you can either go left or right along the levada. If you choose the right direction the levada will take you, in about one and a half hour, to its source, deep in the high valley of Faial. On the other hand, if you choose the left direction you can go all the way to Referta, Porto da Cruz and beyond, along a gentle and humanized landscape, with plenty of agriculture fields and fruit trees along the way. You choose.
The starting of Levada do Castelejo, near the village of Cruz, gives us an idea of how proud Madeira inhabitants are of their irrigation system: the locally-called "levadas". Well-kept gardens and houses abound along the way to Referta.
Contrasting with the monochromatic nature of the levadas built deeply in the Laurissilva forest, the ones crossing the humanized landscapes of the lower altitudes are, most of the times, a colour feast for our eyes.
Water is life. And Madeira is no exception to the rule. Most of the times, in the hills of Madeira island, houses are built (or more correctly... were, in ancient days) along the levadas to take advantage of the nearby fresh water supply.
A small bamboo plantation along the Levada do Castelejo, on the way to Referta. A curious sighting along this levada. And a proof that the gentle Madeira climate allows the growing of almost everything.
A small specimen of the "levadas" fauna. If they are bigger in size and appear to be free, be prudent. Sometimes they consider the contiguous levadas as their own backyards. This one, however, was trekker-friendly and luminous in nature.
All the photos taken with the Nikon Coolpix P7100 and post-processed in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, ver. 4.1.

07 August 2013

Hard work

Mountain huts, by definition, are located in the most remote areas of the globe. Their inaccessibility is, somehow, part of their charm.
Most of the times they can only be reached by air or walking through rough mountain trails. And that brings a problem when we think about the need of supplying them. Regarding that aspect, there are only three solutions: using helicopters, pack animals or sheer human force.
Mr. José António, the Pico Ruívo mountain hut guard, carries a supply cargo (in the old fashion way), along the trail from Achada do Teixeira to Pico Ruívo.
Picture taken with Nikon Coolpix P7100 and post-processed in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, ver. 4.1

03 August 2013

Cherry season

Thanks to a subtropical climate, Madeira is also a paradise for fruit trees. And during the months of Summer we can see them all flourishing and giving us their delicious fruits. Grapes, pears, apples, avocados, annonas, bananas, mangos, figs, plums, cherries, raspberries. You name it. And all of them we can usually find by the side of the road, while we hike along a levada or a trail. Sometimes, depending of the route taken, you can easily forget your snacks at home. Just make sure that the fruit you're picking is not someone's property. Otherwise, to say the least, a digestive problem is almost assured.
In the photo: cherries for sale in a roadside vendor in Madalena do Mar. Picture taken with Nikon Coolpix P7100 and post-processed in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom, ver. 4.1.