Archive for lizards

Let them eat…us? Madeira

Posted in Fun, Photographs, Walking, Wildlife with tags , , on September 25, 2010 by maidofmettle

Quinta da Lorde marina is in the middle of nowhere so we have been working our way up to exploring the rest of Madeira though it takes some organisation if you want to leave the town. So far we have done a bit of snorkelling at the beach closest to us and hosted another driftwood BBQ with some other people from boats here and a random dog who turned up half-way through. James and Lesley from the boat next door and an all female crew from the boat ‘Triple D’ (http://darlinggirls.tumblr.com/) , both of whom are doing the ARC (Atlantic Rally for Cruisers) across the Atlantic this year.

From Left: James, Pete, Trycha, Alice, Jillian, Caroline, Chris and Lesley

There are some impressive fish to be seen in the waters around here. The nicest being what we think are multi-coloured parrot fish and some dark fish with bright blue bits on their fins. There are also some pretty big butterflies that fly around occasionally, though not in the water obviously.

We got literally covered in lizards on a walk a bus-ride away at Pico Facho. We had innocently sat down to eat our sandwiches when along they came. Some of them were pretty big and they were literally crawling all over us and into our tupperware container. They are impressive at jumping and can leap quite a way with no trouble at all. They were cute until one crawled on Pete’s face and bit his lip, though Pete maintains that he think it fell and tried to grab him on the way down.

“Can we keep them? Can we?”

Covered in lizard

As well as being full of lizards the walk took us through some terraced farm land and past quite a few goats. There are quite a few trees so the countryside looks fairly green in places but is interspersed with dried grassy areas. We think other parts of the island will be even greener especially now we are heading towards the rainy season on Madeira.

Walkies through the countryside
We have got to know the girls on ‘Triple D’pretty well over the last week, having met up a few times and been beaten at the games Jungle Speed and Bananagrams. We saw them off yesterday, me having decided I was going to become their fourth crew member. Their boat is much bigger than ours and I wouldn’t mind a room of my own. It has been quite rare to find female sailors in the marinas we have visited so it was nice for me to get to know Trycha, Alice and Jillian a bit so we could talk about fluffy bunnies and kittens instead of other more blokey things for a change ;-). We sent them off with some of Chris’ legendary caramel shortbread however, they didn’t manage to leave afterall yesterday due to problems with a repair they’d had done. Well, not so much the repair but the bill afterwards that they were not expecting. Anyway, we hope that that all gets sorted soon so they can head towards the Canaries.

“I’m coming with you…” The fourth crew member

We took the bus to Funchal (answers on a postcard if you know how to pronounce it). The buses have incredibly narrow seats and the roads are quite bendy resulting in an interesting ride. It was fine really, you just need to hold on a bit if you have the aisle seat.
Funchal was a little wet but quite nice. The buildings are really interesting and they have some really nice gardens to look round. We had lunch in a small and exceedingly cheap cafe and Chris was delighted to see the same bolo de Caco stall as we had found on Porto Santo. I think the man behind the stall was as surprised to see us again as we were to see him.

The bank in Funchal

Giant plants

You’ll also be pleased to hear that we have found and sampled cake. They specialise in honey and molasses cake here which is nice, if very expensive. I am a bit confused though. I remember Madeira cake from home as a yellow sponge cake and this one is brown like the colour of Jamaica Ginger cake. I think we will have to try the cake made from rice that fits this description next.

Porto Santo

Posted in Fun, Photographs, Walking, Wildlife with tags , on September 17, 2010 by maidofmettle

Porto Santo town

Beach – As I’d imagine the Caribbean, the water is so clear here.

Welcome to Porto Santo. It is really lovely here. The guidebook claims it is ideal for cycling as it is “not very hilly” (or words to that effect). Whoever wrote the guidebook for the island has either never been here or is some kind of super fit mountain goat who finds the hills here extremely easy. Either way, you would (probably) not find me cycling around here.

Anyway we have all really enjoyed our time here. It has been perfect for some spectacular walks with amazing views to the sea on all sides! Below are the highlights of some of the best walks we have done here.

Walk around the SE corner of the island – Ponta da Gale

Some scrambling up through prickly pears and strange bendy plants – some with snails on them. Where the snails come from, who knows?

Walk up Pico de Ana Ferreira (SW corner of the island)

Caroline pointing to where we got to (Pico de Ana Ferreira)

Scary looking spiders…

Eeek – wouldn’t like to meet this in the dark.

We have discovered a brilliant bread delicacy that they make in and around Madeira. Bolo do Caco is a light bread made using the secret ingredient of sweet potato and then cooked on a hot plate. Here they have several stalls serving it with chorizo, bacon or hot-dogs and garlic butter with parsley and so on. Bolo do Caco has officially become Chris’ favourite bread – overtaking the bread we had in the river Guadiana for first place.

Every bolo do caco bread fanatic’s dream – an invitation to the
kitchen to see it made!

Chris and I had seen quads driving around the island for hire so we thought we’d give our legs a rest and have a go. Zooming around the island was really fun and plenty fast enough. Driving on the wrong side of the road didn’t turn out to be as difficult as I thought it might be either though I suppose not having driven all that much in the last year helped a lot. Porto Santo is perfect for quads given its hilly nature and the fact that some of the roads would be better described as dirt tracks. You definitely wouldn’t want to take a hire car out on some of them.

Chris driving on to a ‘road’

Even better is the fact that there isn’t very much traffic to be found anywhere so it is easy to get to some pretty inaccessible places fairly easily…once you get the hang of the quad that is! Going up-hill was much easier and more fun than down but we soon grew in confidence with it. The most frightening place we found was when we walked to see the view over the edge of the cliffs on the north of the island. I couldn’t believe the sight that met us…

Don’t look down. Chris demonstrating just how high this cliff edge is.

We also managed to get to the North East corner of the island and walked the 5km walk to Pico Branco and Terra Chã, which Pete had walked a few days earlier. It was a brilliant walk. Terra Chã has a small and seemingly abandoned bunkhouse looking out to sea on it. The ground here is interesting too because it looks quite soft and crumbly in some places and rocky in others. The path was maintained really well…even though we saw noone else doing the walk. Tourism seems not to have overrun the island yet.

Our quad had a funny few hours during the evening (maybe because of the cold?) and took to stalling a lot. Fortunately, it didn’t stop us too much and we were still able to enjoy a lovely (and quite brave) meal in a village called Camacha. When I ordered a coke the waitress said “you can get coke everywhere…would you like to try some local fruit juice drink?”. I’ve forgotten what it was called but I think it was some sort of fizzy passion fruit juice made in Madeira. It was good, a bit like Lilt. Later when we ordered food we were recommended a pasta and ribs dish which when asked what flavour it was, the reply “the flavour comes from the fat and bones…it really is quite interesting”. Maybe they need to work on their recommendation selling. Then again, we did try it so it must have worked and it was good. A giant skewer of chicken arrived as well and was hung up on a hook above our table to go with the pasta and in typical Portuguese fashion, chips and healthy salad to cancel out the chips. Mmm the Portuguese do good food 🙂

We used the quad as a way to get to some brilliant walking tracks and views, not to mention having wild camped between two peaks on the island. Thank you (yet again) £9.99 tent.

We walked up Pico de Castello the following day for breakfast. On the way back down the path we saw hundreds of small lizards skitting about so (having been told that they like it) tried to feed some of them some apple. After some time, they got used to us and Chris was able to take some photos of them feeding.

Oooh, apple…thank you very much”

As you got a full twenty four hours hire we were able to see a lot of the island in that time. On the second day we found our own Sahara dessert. Neither of us were feeling like taking the quad too far in there so we had a bit of a walk instead.

This is as far as I want to drive…now I’ve got to get back down

Much easier to walk…(no, the tracks are not ours)

Over the next few days the island is putting on a Columbus Festival. Apparently he spent some time here and married the governer of the island’s daughter so it’s a good excuse to have a bit party. Last night they opened the festival with acting out his arrival on the beach. There was also some dancing – notably a man in a dress which looked like it had about three pancakes on it when he spun around. They ended with a fabulous fire juggling show with some impressive music on the beach. Though we didn’t really understand the actors it was good to watch the entertainment.

Fire dancing

Fire Poids spinning