Road Trip – Azores! We spent the end of July and the first week of August in the Azores, an archipelago in the North Atlantic about 900 miles west of Portugal. We traveled to the island of Faial to survey fish for REEF (the Reef Environmental Education Foundation) but added a few days onto our trip to allow us to make a couple of road trips around the island.
I ended my last post with a picture of our tide pooling adventure in the Azores. We went in search of blennies. An ichthyologist friend told us we should be able to find two or three species in the tide pools so we spent a while wading around until someone discovered that if we stayed still long enough, little shrimps and blennies would start cleaning our feet. A tide pool pedicure!
On a coral reef, there are special areas called cleaning stations, where fishes go to be cleaned by shrimps and other fishes. A fish will swim up to a cleaning station and stop, allowing the cleaners to pick parasites or dead/injured skin. I’m guessing that in these tide pools, the inhabitants have evolved to take advantage of any possible source of food – even if it arrives in the form of a human foot!
There are a number of swimming areas around Faial. This little cove with the slide was on one end of the public swimming area of Varadoura. It was a little rough that day and no one was willing to take the plunge down the slide so we bought ice cream and moved on.
Our next stop was a small beach that the kids wanted to return to because they had fun picking up sea glass on an earlier visit. My library at home is a shrine to my many years of beachcombing; however, a few years ago I made the decision to take a picture of my finds then leave them on the beach:
The drive up to the caldera of the Cabeço Gordo volcano was beautiful and full of surprises:
I confess I read very little about the Azores before our trip so we didn’t know about the hydrangeas – wow – the hydrangeas! Hydrangeas in the woods:
Hydrangeas lining the road:
Even the fields were full of hedge rows made of hydrangeas:
This must be the absolute perfect climate for these flowers! Finally, near the top of the caldera:
And the 2 kilometer wide caldera:
And some of the luscious growth on a rock near the top of the volcano:
Back in town, we passed an intriguing tree that I called the “bearded tree.”
I fell in love with Faial and am already angling for a way to return!