Jardím do Mar, an amazing village on Madeira island
(Listen to the music while reading blog post.)
On the tiny island of Madeira it starts raining exactly 36 times a day (at least in November). If nights count as well, you can add an extra 15 times. They say that between June and October there is absolutely no rain, so I have the strange feeling that this might be not the idal time for visiting Madeira. But of course, there are better moments, between two periods of rain. The temperature is about 20 degrees and if the sun is shining, life doesn’t sucks here much.
In this little village there are millions of steps, but most of them are not usual at all. They are rounded, almost wavy. It may be because there are plenty of rocky mountain tops around, and the constructors just wanted to balance the things, or because Jardím do Mar is famous of its huge waves amongst surfers. I don’t know for sure, but I have to tell you, I just simply love these roundish shapes.
The village itself is only a couple of houses, approximately 200 people lives here. It’s stuck massively between the Atlantic ocean and a 600 meters high mountain. There is one little shop in the village where you can buy just the essentials (e.g. chips, beer, tampons), but every morning shortly after 8 the breadman comes to the main square and the local residents queue up for sweets and carefully made bread. Two times a week fruit and vegs come to the village on wheels as well, a truckload of handsome greens. I immediately regret I don’t speak Portugese, when I try to explain in English what I’d like to buy and we soon stuck in conversation. At tomatoes. In the meantime, on the other side of the leash, Maria, the little dog seems a little unpatient, she wants to go for her well-deserved big walk, but she still has to wait. To make things easier, I hop onto the truck and try to show what I want. The vendor educates me, lists the names in Portugese so that next time we could save time. The village is gathering up around us to watch my little acrobatic performance closely and they are encouraging me with (still) unknown Portugese expressions. I feel grateful for them and I finally I can write a couple of Portugese words in my dictionary. For example, tomato is called tomate, if somebody needs this important knowledge in the near future. It differs exactly one letter from the English eqvivalent, so I am a little puzzled about what could be the actual drama of not understanding me.
Something of what the village of Jardím do Mar can be proud is – apart from the grandiose mountain walls and the beautiful ocean view – an old hammock from the 19th century. This one was used to transport old (and of course, rich) people in the neighborhood, amongst others up to 600m high Prazeres. The plaque says with a pinch of malevolence, that around a time the carriers of the hammock hadn’t got an easy-peasy work to do, because they often had to transport priest Sebastião around, who must have been quite a weighty person.
Well, now I can tell you, this is really something, even doing this alone, without carrying a fat priest.
There is approximately a 600 meters of difference in height on a 1,5 km long path, which is, let’s be honest, steep. Even when the path is constructed like some natural stairway.
I decide to go up with Maria, the tiny little dog of the guesthouse, and she is happily following me all the way up. I write following, but the truth is that I am the one who is following her all the time. She is running up and down on the stairs and I still fight for my breath and my pace is just like a retired snail’s with a broken leg. It feels just slightly better when I see Maria also becoming tired at the top, so we share some water and have a little rest. And on the way down to Paúl do Mar she starts to run up and down again.
And the conclusion? It is a wonderful route with amazing view to the Atlantic ocean and the little villages, but it is steep so those who have fear of the height should be particularly careful. And after the long walk, the tired wanderer can finally rest drinking a good bica, the Portugese version of espresso. (And for the VERY tired wanderers I’d suggest to go to Maktub bar at the end of the village and have some mojito watching the sunset right in front of their feet.)