I once again got up alone at 5:30 am and drove over to the coast of Santo Amaro which is just a few kilometers from Prainha.
It is again a very spectacular steep lava coast and the sun rose dramatically over São Jorge. It was almost like a déjà-vu when the multiple rays of sun met the sea!
I had to rush a bit this morning as we have booked a whale watching trip with Espaço Talassa who are supposed to be the best and also provide marine specialists during the trip. We made the short drive over to Lajes and joined the other people for this trip. We were seven people on a Zodiac that can handle up to 12 people. Our marine biologist was Hella from the Netherlands and our skipper was César, a local young man from Pico. We got rain coats and life jackets and went over to the harbour into the Zodiac.
We were already warned that it would be choppy but I was not really prepared for what was about to come! The sea was very rough when we came out of the sheltered harbour and we had to navigate against the waves for about 8 miles. It was incredibly bumpy, the waves were high and I felt like being in a nutshell
I panicked a bit and could not imagine to stay three hours like this but, on the other hand, I did not want to be the party pooper! So I decided to be a turtle: hat down over the eyes and nose, shoulders up – I can’t be afraid of something that I don’t see… This strategy worked and after about half an hour, César stopped the Zodiac and we saw two beautiful large fin whales for the first time in our life. They were just traveling and taking a breath every 30 to 45 seconds which was our moment to admire the beauty and length of this large mammal.
The water was still choppy but I wasn’t afraid anymore now – what a sight!!! The fin whales left after about 10 minutes and we were waiting for a call from the observing tower. Then we got the news that a pair of sperm whales is around and we headed near that spot. And yes, there they were: two sperm whales about 30 meters away. When they took a breath, we could clearly see the distinctive shape of the head and body. Very cool!!! We enjoyed it a lot but had not been lucky enough to come across a blue whale which are also around this time of the year. But when we headed back, we were accompanied by a funny group of common dolphins which was also very very nice.
We returned to the harbour, had a cup of tea and got a certificate about the animals that we have seen. It was a good trip despite the fear I had to go through in the beginning! Sorry that there aren’t any pics of this trip but we preferred watching the animals instead of peaking through the viewfinder. The experience was much more intense this way.
We met Gerd’s mom and headed back to Prainha to change into dry clothes and to have lunch in a local restaurant. The choice of fish and meat was very good and we enjoyed a hearty lunch after this gorgeous trip.
It was going to be a long day as the weather stayed good and Gerd and I went up into the high land in the late afternoon. The light was marvellous now and the scattered craters looked great in the green landscape. We eventually settled at Lagoa do Capitão where we shared our sandwiches with some finches and a pair of ducks. The sun set quickly and I grabbed some shots with attractive trees as a foreground. Contrast was not easy to handle but I’m quite happy with the results. We stayed until it got dark and made some star photos of the Pico volcano and I also took photos for star trails to the other side; unfortunately not North where the clouds were building up.
We came back late around midnight and tiredly went to bed immediately.
Highlight of the day: Whale watching
11th May 2013
It was already time to leave Pico today for São Miguel and our last two days of this holiday. But I still had one more sunrise on this beautiful island and I drove up to the high land again when I saw that it was all clear.
It turned out to be a good decision and I was blessed with a beautiful sunrise over the islands of São Jorge, Terceira in the distance and Pico. I continued through the landscape of the mountains, stopped here and there to grab a shot until the light was almost gone again after one hour. The trip was a bit too hectic for my taste but no choice if you only have this one opportunity! I was really missing the first spoilt rainy day!
I went back to the house and we had breakfast together.
We payed the bill, had a chat with Jose and loaded our luggage into the car before we drove over to Lajes again as Gerd forgot to buy a T-shirt as a souvenir from the whale watching shop yesterday. We afterwards made a light lunch stop in a café near Madalena, took some photos of lava detail at the coast and drove to the airport.
Check-in and security was quick and our plane even took off 15 minutes early to schedule!! It was really funny, all passengers were boarded, the captain closed the doors and off we were!
So we arrived almost half an hour earlier in São Miguel where I rented the car while Gerd and his mom were waiting for the luggage.
Our last home of this trip was the beautifully renovated old windmill of O Moinho da Bibi in Candelaria. We were greeted by Gabriela who showed us the mill and has also prepared a traditional meal that was cooked in an old wood oven.The portions were HUGE: we had yams with blood sausage and pineapple, roast beef, a whole chicken, vegetable stew, tomatoes, flan as a dessert and three bottles of very good red wine. Everything was delicious but we could not finish all the food and took half of it over to our kitchen for the next day which was not a problem at all.
We enjoyed dinner though I was a bit sad to miss the sunset. Weather was about to change again and I was afraid that this has just been the last opportunity. Which it was indeed…
Highlight of the day: sunrise in the high land