August and I visited the island of Sao Miguel while we were stationed on Terceira, one of the other islands in the archipelago.  We visited almost every place on the hyperlinked website while we were there (and have the pics to prove it…they look frighteningly familiar *g*).  Here’s how it played out… 

An American nurse flew to the base every month from Sao Miguel to give us nursing training…she’d met and fallen in love with a Portuguese man while practicing in Boston, and when he asked her to come live with him, she ditched the states.  Soooo, when we asked her about a good hotel to stay in, she insisted that we come stay with them.  The initial plan was to just stay one night and then find a hotel, because we didn’t want to impose.  When Joao, our host, met us at the airport, he whisked us away to his “apartment”…which was basically the entire 17th floor of the tallest building on the island (18 floors…you can see it on the website…third picture down under Ponta Delgada).  Yeah.  Apparently we’d befriended one of the island’s elite.  Turns out his family basically owned the appliances industry within the Azores, and was heavily involved in geothermal power, which is a huge thing there (since they’re basically sitting on inactive volcanoes).  So he shows us our “room”, which is pretty much a damned apartment… 

Since we’re not fools, when he offered the use of it for the week, we jumped on it.  Partly because the hotels there were almost as pricey as Rome (think $180/nigh), but also because he was truly a great guy who delighted in showing us “his” island. We spent the first day kind of getting our bearings, wandering around the waterfront, checking out the fort, that kind of thing.  Then Joao hooked us up with a driver.  It cost us $100/day, but that’s cheap considering how much rentals cost there, and this guy knew exactly where to go and what to see.  We hung out with him for two days and had a blast, cruising the entire island.  We had lunch cooked in volcanic vents, checked out a pineapple factory, visited Sete Ciudad, a stronghold that successfully held against pirates, and so many other places! 

Because Joao took such great pride in his island, he was instrumental in us seeing more than traditional tourists would… we repaid him by fighting over the dinner check every night *g*!  I mean, c’mon, we’re not paying squat for room and board, let us do that much, at least!  One particularly fabulous dinner was a multiple course deal… all I remember is that we ate for what seemed like hours, but were never overly stuffed, got to eat prawns the size of lobsters (I’m NOT shitting you) the four of us went through three bottles of GOOD wine, after dinner drinks, coffee and dessert, and when the tab came…are you ready???  $120.  For. All. Four. Of. Us. 

It was with real regret that we left Joao and Ponta Delgada… I keep telling August that one day we’ll go back… I’d love to see Joao again, because even though we thanked him profusely and kept in touch for a few years, he was the bestest host in the whole world and I’d love to tell him that again! 

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