Some say that the Azores are the legendary peaks of Atlantis after it was swallowed by the sea, which is easy to believe, especially after visiting Furnas; bells ringing from church steeples, storm driven thunder clouds over head, old manor homes with their windows sparkling in the sunlight, wind-swept mountain ridges over crystalline lakes, its haunting beauty is unparalleled.
"Going home" is a concept with entirely different significance for those who have been uprooted from their home and now live elsewhere. TO me going home is returning to the paradisiacal island of Sao Miguel, where at every corner is a discovery and a memory. The valley of Furnas, with the exception of a few road upgrades and Wi-Fi, has remained the same as I always remembered. Furnas is a magical village where volcanic fumaroles, effervescent springs, and geysers are part of the natural landscape. Everywhere the scents of baking bread and fresh fruit mingle with the scent of the ever breathing volcano.
The valley of Furnas nestles within Sao Miguel's volcanic crater, venting hot mineral springs where fresh corn is cooked in burlap sacks immersed in boiling fumaroles; where botanical gardens are home to black and white swans, and exotic plants and fauna from around the world. The botanical gardens of the Hotel Terra Nostra are world renowned for its age and the variety of species there, but to me it is what I imagined the Garden of Eden to be.
The sounds are as magical as the sights. Countless little birds call the tree tops home, and delight visitors with their constant singing; various creeks murmur in tune with the rustling foliage. The main feature of the gardens is the swimming pool fed by a natural hot ferrous spring; it is large enough to often be confused by tourists as a small lake. Swimming in the pool is a mystical experience; the water is warm and constantly pouring into the pool. Due to the minerals, one becomes noticeably more buoyant and time ceases to have its normal meaning. On cold days, the mist hovers and iridescent dragon flies are easily mistaken for fairies.
AS a child, this park was my playground. I played in its caves, climbed its trees, swam for daily eternities and could not conceive that anyone could ever be alive and not have such a garden to visit. As an adult returning as often as I can, this park gives the constant assurance that, although I live elsewhere, I still belong to the Azores. Furnas is a paradise where the soft clopping of hooves on cobbled streets, the babbling of the brook beneath the mill at twilight, and the smell of fresh baked bread and wild blackberries filling the crisp morning air, call to my heart with a ceaseless whisper to come home.
(From the travel log of Ana Cristina Wallenstein-Garaventa)
Atlantis (in Greek, "island of Atlas") is a legendary island first mentioned in Plato's dialogues Timaeus and Critias, written about 360 BC. According to Plato, Atlantis was a naval power lying "in front of the Pillars of Hercules" that conquered many parts of Western Europe and Africa 9,000 years before the time of Solon, or approximately 9600 BC. After a failed attempt to invade Athens, Atlantis sank into the ocean "in a single day and night of misfortune". Atlantis - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
São Miguel Island (Portuguese for Saint Michael), nicknamed "The Green Island", is the largest and most populous island in the Portuguese Azores archipelago. The island covers 759 km2 (293 sq mi) and has around 140,000 inhabitants, 45,000 of these people located in the largest city in the archipelago: Ponta Delgada. São Miguel Island - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Furnas is a civil parish in the municipality of Povoação on the island of São Miguel in the Azores. The population in 2001 was 1,541, its density is 44.76/km² and the area is 34.43 km². The parish is one of the largest in the island and in the Azores. It is located east of Lagoa and Ponta Delgada, west of Povoação and southeast of Ribeira Grande. Furnas - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Archipelago of the Azores is composed of nine volcanic islands situated in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, and is located about 1,500 km (930 mi) west from Lisbon and about 3,900 km (2,400 mi) east from the east coast of North America. The islands, and their economic exclusion zone, form the Autonomous Region of the Azores, one of the two autonomous regions of Portugal. Its main industries are: agriculture, dairy farming (for cheese and butter products primarily), minor livestock ranching, fishing and tourism, which is becoming the major service activity in the region; added to which, the government of the Azores employs a large percentage of the population directly or indirectly in many aspects of the service and tertiary sectors. Azores - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The footnotes are keyboard accessible:
- Press the Tab and Shift+Tab keys to jump between footnotes.
- Press the Enter key to jump to and from each footnote.
- Mouse users can click the desired footnote as usual.