Thursday, 3 December 2009

Corvo - Part 2

To get up to the caldeira, we needed a taxi but, as there isn't a taxi rank on Corvo, we were contemplating going into a bar to see if any one knew of one when we came across the Corvo branch of Rede Integrada de Apoio ao Cidadao (RIAC). The lady therein spoke immaculate English (with a North American accent) and phoned us a driver.

As Vila Nova do Corvo is such a small place, he was almost there before we got back out to the street. Another English speaker (with a North American accent), Joao drove us placidly up to the caldeira. Now I have been there before (when we were here on holiday in 2005 before we came to live on Flores) so I've seen the caldeira of Corvo before but two observations even so:-

1. When you look across to Corvo from Flores (and most people get no closer), what you don't realise is that it's basically an extinct volcano and the top third is hollow:-

2. Not only were we lucky to get to the island at all but we had the double good fortune that the summit and crater weren't enveloped in cloud as they are so frequently so we got to see the crater (caldeira) AGAIN! This is it (although I have to admit this is a pic from 2005 because it was sunnier that day):-

Also, because I'd seen the caldeira before (is this a third observation?), I found myself more interested in the terrain of Corvo above Vila Nova:-

Back down at the quay, we'd timed it perfectly for a death defying leap on to the heaving deck of the good ship Santa Iria. For the return journey, there were another three passengers including a jolly smiley German (altogether too jolly and smiley for my taste, but it takes all sorts, I suppose) with one of these - I don't know what you call them - but it's a thing you lie back on and pedal:-

My first thought was how did he pedal that up to the caldeira? But then my second thought was how did he pedal it down from the caldeira - can he put his legs into a low gear? Actually, these were thoughts #2 & 3, thought #1 being how did they get this contraption aboard? It was too delicate to be hoisted aboard by the crane and the Santa Iria doesn't half heave about in the swell through a matrix of 2-3 metres in-out and above-below the quayside at Corvo. Thought #4 was thinking in response to a question from said German as to whether there was a bike-spares shop in Lajes das Flores? That doesn't count as a full blown thought as the simple answer is No but I had to consider if the garage in Santa Cruz might be able to help (unlikely) so let's call it thought #3.5.

Anyway, on the return journey, the weather deteriorated somewhat:-

Now, that may look benign to you but let me tell you it was the only moment I could get my camera out (a two handed exercise) without being thrown across the deck or else (far worse) getting the camera drenched in salt water. Latterly, it was a bit crowded in the wheelhouse sheltering from the spray coming over the bow:-

All in all, a great day and thanks to the crew of the Santa Iria. As a minor league nautical cove, I was impressed with how they swooped round at Corvo to berth bow out when the ship had neither bow-thruster nor mechanical windlass to work the mooring warps. Respect - put that in your risk assessment and smoke it Caledonian MacBrayne!


Marisa said...

Your turning into "Sea Wolves", ehehhe.

Neil King said...

Pois, verdades lobos marinhos!

Suze said...

What, no bow thruster. No mechanical windlass. Good grief. What were they thinking? I wouldn't dream of leaving port without them.

Jon Frimann said...

I can assure that Corvo is not extinct volcano. Quiet yes, but it is active but dormant at the moment and has been for a long time. There is no way to know when next eruption cycle starts. When that happens the island has to be evacuated.

This also a reason why I want to move to Flores. Once I figure out all the details and the money issue to do so.