Here’s an audio version
Missions accomplished in Porto Santo: bought Madeira wine, went to the beach. The ship anchored about 2km off shore, and we took a tender into the port. It’s a bit of an out-of-the-way island that doesn’t get a lot of cruise ships I think. It’s not bristling with attractions to draw the world-weary traveller. Thus it seemed to me that the people on the small serviceable shuttle boat were among the more lively and adventurous.
We were on a mission first to mail a letter to a friend. The post office and bank share an establishment, and it only cost 0.80 Euros to mail a letter to Canada. I wonder if it will beat us there. Next we spied a grocery store. In several stores we’ve come across 1l tetra packs of shelf stable milk. It doesn’t need to be refrigerated because it’s pasteurized at a higher than usual temperature. Also, as in many parts of the world alcohol is much more freely available. In Rome, we stopped at an ice-cream stand where you could also buy beer and rum coolers. At the Store in Porto Santo you could get these cute little 100ml bottles of martini for 0.80 Euros.
We found some Madeira wine: moderately dry and 17%, woohoo! So far we’ve managed to sneak 3 bottles in past the boarding people, but they spotted us this time, and we had to surrender it. They charge you 18 Euros “Corking fee,” which means you pay them 18 Euros for the privilege of drinking it on board. Since that’s about 3 times what we paid for it, we’ll take option 2, which means they give it back to us on the last night in preparation for packing. Depending, it might never see the inside of our suitcase. We purchased a wine package which means 7 bottles at a fixed price, doled out on request during the voyage, any left over to be given to us when we disembark. My partner’s worried that we’re not burning through it fast enough, so tonight we start the hard drinking.
After buying our Madeira, we found our way out of the tourist area and wandered around a bit. Our friend got a tongue-in-cheek selfie with a goat, then we headed back to find the beach. The approach was inviting sand, but once in the water, the bottom was course gravel and flat rocks. It sounds harmless enough, until you get to knee depth and squat down. Then what happens is the startlingly powerful swells suck you and about a ton of gravel outwards, then send you scraping back shoreward on your butt, probably with a face full of salt water. It was great fun! Ok, I admit it, I let out quite a few girlie screams, but no one seemed to think any less of me for it.
I’m once more happily sitting on our balcony. We’ve left Porto Santo, and I suppose are in the process of leaving Europe. I had thought I didn’t care much about visiting Europe, but I liked our port stops so much. This will be the last leg of our trip, and in some ways the one I’ve been looking forward to the most.
Before leaving, a friend was excited to hear that we’d be passing through the Straits of Gibraltar, because her ancestors crossed the straits from North Africa to Europe in the migration that would eventually lead to her living in Canada. Until then I hadn’t thought much about our trip in that way, but both my partner and I have ancestors who reached Canada by ship. My maternal grandparents came from Ireland, and my paternal grandparents from Poland, so I suppose none of them came from this far south, but still, I’m following their path in a certain sense. I’m pretty sure they didn’t have hot tubs or an all-you-can-eat buffet though.
We’re really starting to feel the swells again. Until this trip I’d never felt motion sickness. I’d understood intellectually that it’s largely the result of a discontinuity between sensory perceptions, but I’d assumed it was a visual phenomenon. A few days ago however, I began to feel very odd indeed. I had no perception of the ship moving or rocking, but I felt queasy and anxious, maybe a bit dizzy. Others could feel the ship moving, but I couldn’t. I was fine after about 18 hours, and I’ve been fine since. The roughest seas are probably ahead, so I’ve got my fingers crossed.