Santa Maria, Azores

Santa Maria: the Azores Mother Island

Chimneys of Controversy
Typical houses and chimneys of Santa Maria, it is said that they are inspired by the steamboat chimneys used before by the Azorean emigrants.
Gonçalo Velho, the Lighthouse
The Gonçalo Velho lighthouse warns vessels in the extreme southeast of Santa Maria
Malbusca Nut
Porca walks along a path at the entrance to the village of Malbusca.
a convenient trio
Trio of traditional Santa Maria houses, white, with brown roof.
Letreito and Cactus
Signpost informs the direction of the Miradouro da Vigia da Baleia.
Barreiro da Faneca
Barreiro da Faneca forms one of the most unexpected scenarios on the island of Santa Maria.
Luis brothers
Artur and Vitor Luís, brothers living in the vicinity of Santa Bárbara, taking a break from their rural activities.
corn and corn
Traditional house with a small granary and a satellite TV disc.
A village in the shape of a bay
The houses of São Lourenço, nestled in a green cove in Santa Maria.
Vertical sidewalk
The Calçada dos Gigantes, an impressive geological testimony near the end of the Ribeira de Maloés
small corrals
The houses of São Lourenço, nestled in a green cove in Santa Maria.
an infernal curve
Mota reaches the top of a curve in the form of a ramp next to the Gonçalo Velho lighthouse.
Christopher Columbus
Statue in honor of Cristovão Colombo and his passage through the island of Santa Maria.
Purification of the Holy Spirit
The Church of Our Lady of Purification, in Santo Espírito.
Santa Barbara in the Far
The houses of Santa Bárbara, one of the most traditional villages on the island of Santa Maria.
Quarry Well
Visitor to Poço da Pedreira, a corner formed by the stonework of Santa Maria.
towards the lighthouse
Long staircase that leads to Gonçalo Velho lighthouse.
It was the first in the archipelago to emerge from the bottom of the sea, the first to be discovered, the first and only to receive Cristovão Colombo and a Concorde. These are some of the attributes that make Santa Maria special. When we visit it, we find many more.

The plane flies to the south coast of Santa Maria, Azores, to align with the beginning of the runway, which occupies a good portion of the eastern end of the island. We share the oval window and follow the maneuver and the opening views.

The predominant earthy brown surprises us. In the eight neighbors of the archipelago, the monopolistic tone had proven itself to green with deviations of yellowish.

Soft Landing in the Azorean Algarve

Everything indicated that the last southern and eastern stronghold of the Azores sheltered the exception. Santa Maria is the Azorean Algarve, some natives assure us. “We have the best climate and the best beaches but also the Azores more conventional. Just wait until you go to Pico Alto, which you will see. We don't take long to do it.

Before that, already installed on the outskirts of Vila do Porto, we reversed the usual sense of things and went down to Anjos. We found the Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Nª Senhora with closed doors.

For a short time. Seeing us hanging around the door, a lady at the window of a one-story house next door began to investigate whether the Holy Trinity would grant us a visit to what is believed to have been the first church built by Infante Dom Henrique in the Azores, in 1439, in its original wood and hay version, a few years later replaced by the current one.

The Troubled Visit of Christopher Columbus

Apparently the guardian approved of it, or at least it took only a few minutes before she appeared to us with the key in her hand and a single, simple prayer: "Then, please come back to close it and return it to me." A Cristovão Colombo in a magnified bronze statue contemplates the horizon of the Atlantic but seems to accompany our movements from the sidelines. As soon as we leave the simple but peculiar interior of the temple, we are the ones to relive it and the story of its ephemeral passage through the island.

Cristovão Colombo, Santa Maria, Mother Island of the Azores

Statue in honor of Cristovão Colombo and his passage through the island of Santa Maria.

It didn't take long after the beginning of settlement until the island was attacked by pirates and Berber corsairs. Columbus himself was a victim of these attacks, albeit by default. In early 1493, he was returning from his journey to discover America. The caravel Santa Maria had already sunk in the Caribbean.

In the middle of the Atlantic, Niña and Pinta got lost. Colombo led Niña to the island of Santa Maria. When he arrived, he began to receive food from three of the less than one hundred inhabitants of that time. The following day, he sent a boat with ten men destined for the Hermitage of the Angels in search of a priest who would say a mass of thanks for the good fortune of the trip.

The embassy started to go wrong. Afraid that they were pirates, the residents, led by Lieutenant Captain João de Castanheira, imprisoned five of these men. The rest fled to the ship. Three days later, Castanheira checked Colombo's credentials and welcomed him.

The Almost Tragic Return of Santa Maria to Europe. Via Lisbon

The navigator only left Santa Maria six days after having docked, with the ship repaired and supplied. He headed for Lisbon where he arrived under a terrible storm. The population that accompanied the ship hit by the huge waves rejoiced with their luck.

Colombo spent nine days in Lisbon and surroundings. In this period that remains shrouded in controversy and in which he conferred with D. João II, he and the crew will have been received like heroes and rewarded with large gifts.

One of the most persistent historical theories argues that, after discussing the diplomatic strategy to follow, the Portuguese king made it clear that Spain should concentrate on the new Indies discovered by Columbus and not interfere with Africa and the path to India via Cape of Good Hope.

Barreiro da Faneca: a strange clayey Santa Maria

We reversed path. We soon hit the dirt road to Barreiro da Faneca. At the entrance to this vast, arid, clayey and undulating open plains with torrents of rainwater, surrounded by verdant arboreal vegetation, we share the feeling of having landed on Mars.

Barreiro Faneca, Santa Maria, Mother Island of the Azores

Barreiro da Faneca forms one of the most unexpected scenarios on the island of Santa Maria.

From there, we went to Pico Alto (587 m), the highest point of that Terran patch.

Once the last steps have been passed, we are already over this forested zenith and we can see the island all around, the same drier section to the south that we had seen from the plane. And the more southern, the more weedy and wet the landscape.

The Air Tragedy of Pico Alto

On February 8, 1989, pilots aboard the Boeing 707-301 of the Independent Air coming from Bergamo and destined for Punta Cana, they saw little or nothing around before the occurrence of what became the air crash in Portuguese territory with the most victims.

A double failure in the communication between the command tower and the pilots and, above all, the poor preparation and performance of the pilots made the plane's approaching altitude fail and the plane crashed into Pico Alto.

This is despite the fact that the runway at Santa Maria Airport – built by the North Americans in World War II to reinforce their war effort – received, at that time, frequent Concordes on stopovers on their transatlantic trips, as did the equally supersonic Antonov 2 .

Over the decades, the autonomy of new aircraft increased. Santa Maria Airport has lost much of its old traffic.

Santa Maria, Mother Island of the Azores

The houses of Santa Bárbara, one of the most traditional villages on the island of Santa Maria.

Towards Santa Bárbara, with no sign of thunder

From the measured heights of Pico Alto, we descend, without a hitch, towards Santa Bárbara. In this town, the architectural beauty surprises us. The houses are white with blue corners and frames.

Large cylindrical chimneys project from them, which the natives called “steam chimneys” while repudiating the authors of all the conclusions brought by pioneer settlers from the Algarve.

Its true inspiration may have been the steamboats on which Azorean emigrants departed for the Americas and returned from them. Today, jet engine travel is propelled, but it is still rare for Mariens without, at least, relatives in Canada or in the USA.

Chimneys, Santa Maria, Mother Island of the Azores

Typical houses and chimneys of Santa Maria, it is said that they are inspired by the steamboat chimneys used before by the Azorean emigrants.

We found two of them working on their property at the entrance to Santa Barbara. Artur and Vítor are brothers, surnamed Luís. A Chinese tractor calls them to tasks.

We do everything to lead them astray for a few moments of conversation. Shy at first, they try to send us away. We insist with the utmost courtesy and humor possible.

Artur and Vitor Luís, Brothers from the Field with Some Time for Conversation

Finally, they silence the tractor, postpone the tasks and dedicate themselves only to these compatriots from the continent. Unlike what happened with other farmers with whom we had contacted in São Miguel (Azores), his accent was noticeable to us. As we all let go, socializing is as fun as it is stimulating.

Vítor Luís is the talker. Arthur remains in reserve. Complete, with additions, the speech of the brother. As they tell us, their mother has about twenty brothers and they don't even know half of it. “Some live in America, others in Canada. Yeah, right. That's why we work with caps from these teams over there!” (on American football teams from San Francisco and Seattle).

Santa Maria, Mother Island of the Azores

Artur and Vitor Luís, brothers living in the vicinity of Santa Bárbara, taking a break from their rural activities.

“Vítor still confesses to us, without any embarrassment: “my wife has a twin sister but it's rare for me to live with her family.” When we dare to understand why, it takes refuge in the joke. “It's better anyway. See if I'm mistaken later." Twenty minutes later, we leave them to their business.

We point to the center of Santa Bárbara that we find arranged around the homonymous church. We entered a café-grocery store, rested and regained strength. We then proceeded towards the east coast of Santa Maria.

From the heights of São Lourenço to Santo Espírito

When we reach the Espigão viewpoint, at the top of the slope that hides São Lourenço, sunlight intermittently falls on the corrals, on the vineyards they protect, on the houses sunk in the half crater and at the mercy of the Atlantic onwards. Clouds filter this light.

Santa Maria, Mother Island of the Azores

The houses of São Lourenço, nestled in a green cove in Santa Maria.

They make the town and its long beach even more mystical than the extreme location already provided.

We return along the same zigzag road above and look for Poço da Pedreira, a large pink wall made of a stone from Marian masonry that has, at its base, a lake carpeted with lush grass.

Poço da Pedreira, Santa Maria, Mother Island of the Azores

Visitor to Poço da Pedreira, a corner formed by the stonework of Santa Maria.

Shortly after we hit it, it started to rain hard, so we bet on the meteorological clemency of Santo Espírito, the civil parish because it passed the island's road axis. In the early days of colonization, its dispersed communities of settlers gathered heather from the high cliffs of the Malbusca region along the sea.

They did it in baskets that descended to the height of the cliff where they could see the fungi. And they would hoist up again when they finished filling the baskets. The heather thus gathered was exported to Flanders where local artisans used it for coloring fabrics and others.

This parish received its name because it was there that mass was said, for the first time after the colonization of the island, before moving to Santana.

Towards the eastern ends of the Azores

Nowadays, the religious core of the current Santo Espírito resides in the church of Nossa Senhora da Purificação, built in the XNUMXth century, baroque in basalt stone semi-painted in white to form a mosaic and with its frontispiece added in the century XVIII, cut into rounded shapes against the sky. It's time for work and not even at the bar-band Recreio Espiritense is the village lively.

Santa Maria, Mother Island of the Azores

The Church of Our Lady of Purification, in Santo Espírito.

In any case, there are still a few kilometers to the last Azorean corner to the east, the closest to the Portuguese mainland which is 1436 km away.

From Santo Espírito to the east, the road descends without parsimony and offers magnificent views over the coastal scenery below, such as the Vigia da Baleia viewpoint from where the old sentries patrolled the Atlantic in search of cetaceans.

We don't see any sign of whales, but the panorama of the Gonçalo Velho Lighthouse halfway up the slopes and the steps beyond that lead to a bunch of cactuses keep us entertained for a long time.

Santa Maria, Mother Island of the Azores

Long staircase that leads to Gonçalo Velho lighthouse.

In Search of the Giant's Causeway Evasion

We left the island's main road for good, with the aim of returning to Vila do Porto along the south coast of Santa Maria. We bet on finding the Ribeira dos Maloás. In the village of Malbusca, we look for someone to look for the way.

Instead of people, we come across a waddling sow who descends a steep path and stops to sniff at our car, curious about the hot obstacle that had stopped her evasion.

Santa Maria, Mother Island of the Azores

Porca walks along a path at the entrance to the village of Malbusca.

After half an hour, we find the geological monument there. It lay at the end of a path flanked by cactuses, on the edge of an abyss that overlooked a rough but crystalline Atlantic, with seductive tones.

With the sea imminent, at a certain point, the Ribeira de Maloás falls into a waterfall measuring about 20 meters. There, hides the impressive Calçada dos Gigantes de Santa Maria, a prehistoric geological sculpture that groups together basalt columns.

Calçada dos Gigantes, Santa Maria, Mother Island of the Azores

The Calçada dos Gigantes, an impressive geological testimony near the end of the Ribeira de Maloés

Knowing what we know today, we would only regret ignoring such a place. In the last hours of light, we complete the journey to Vila do Porto. With a brief strategic stopover in Praia Formosa that precedes it.





Sistelo, Peneda-Gerês, Portugal

From the "Little Portuguese Tibet" to the Corn Presidia

We leave the cliffs of Srª da Peneda, heading for Arcos de ValdeVez and the villages that an erroneous imaginary dubbed Little Portuguese Tibet. From these terraced villages, we pass by others famous for guarding, as golden and sacred treasures, the ears they harvest. Whimsical, the route reveals the resplendent nature and green fertility of these lands in Peneda-Gerês.
Castro Laboreiro, Portugal  

From Castro de Laboreiro to Raia da Serra Peneda - Gerês

We arrived at (i) the eminence of Galicia, at an altitude of 1000m and even more. Castro Laboreiro and the surrounding villages stand out against the granite monumentality of the mountains and the Planalto da Peneda and Laboreiro. As do its resilient people who, sometimes handed over to Brandas and sometimes to Inverneiras, still call these stunning places home.
Terceira Island, Azores

Terceira Island: Journey through a Unique Archipelago of the Azores

It was called the Island of Jesus Christ and has radiated, for a long time, the cult of the Holy Spirit. It houses Angra do Heroísmo, the oldest and most splendid city in the archipelago. These are just two examples. The attributes that make Terceira island unique are endless.
Flores Island, Azores

The Atlantic ends of the Azores and Portugal

Where, to the west, even on the map the Americas appear remote, the Ilha das Flores is home to the ultimate Azorean idyllic-dramatic domain and almost four thousand Florians surrendered to the dazzling end-of-the-world that welcomed them.
São Miguel (Azores), Azores

São Miguel Island: Stunning Azores, By Nature

An immaculate biosphere that the Earth's entrails mold and soften is displayed, in São Miguel, in a panoramic format. São Miguel is the largest of the Portuguese islands. And it is a work of art of Nature and Man in the middle of the North Atlantic planted.
Pico Island, Azores

Pico Island: the Azores Volcano with the Atlantic at its Feet

By a mere volcanic whim, the youngest Azorean patch projects itself into the rock and lava apogee of Portuguese territory. The island of Pico is home to its highest and sharpest mountain. But not only. It is a testament to the resilience and ingenuity of the Azoreans who tamed this stunning island and surrounding ocean.
Okavango Delta, Not all rivers reach the sea, Mokoros
Okavango Delta, Botswana

Not all rivers reach the sea

Third longest river in southern Africa, the Okavango rises in the Angolan Bié plateau and runs 1600km to the southeast. It gets lost in the Kalahari Desert where it irrigates a dazzling wetland teeming with wildlife.
Yak Kharka to Thorong Phedi, Annapurna Circuit, Nepal, Yaks
Annapurna (circuit)
Annapurna Circuit 11th: yak karkha a Thorong Phedi, Nepal,

Arrival to the Foot of the Canyon

In just over 6km, we climbed from 4018m to 4450m, at the base of Thorong La canyon. Along the way, we questioned if what we felt were the first problems of Altitude Evil. It was never more than a false alarm.
Engravings, Karnak Temple, Luxor, Egypt
Architecture & Design
Luxor, Egypt

From Luxor to Thebes: Journey to Ancient Egypt

Thebes was raised as the new supreme capital of the Egyptian Empire, the seat of Amon, the God of Gods. Modern Luxor inherited the Temple of Karnak and its sumptuousness. Between one and the other flow the sacred Nile and millennia of dazzling history.
The small lighthouse at Kallur, highlighted in the capricious northern relief of the island of Kalsoy.
Kalsoy, Faroe Islands

A Lighthouse at the End of the Faroese World

Kalsoy is one of the most isolated islands in the Faroe archipelago. Also known as “the flute” due to its long shape and the many tunnels that serve it, a mere 75 inhabitants inhabit it. Much less than the outsiders who visit it every year, attracted by the boreal wonder of its Kallur lighthouse.
Indigenous Crowned
Ceremonies and Festivities
Pueblos del Sur, Venezuela

Behind the Venezuela Andes. Fiesta Time.

In 1619, the authorities of Mérida dictated the settlement of the surrounding territory. The order resulted in 19 remote villages that we found dedicated to commemorations with caretos and local pauliteiros.
, Mexico, city of silver and gold, homes over tunnels
Guanajuato, Mexico

The City that Shines in All Colors

During the XNUMXth century, it was the city that produced the most silver in the world and one of the most opulent in Mexico and colonial Spain. Several of its mines are still active, but the impressive wealth of Guanuajuato lies in the multicolored eccentricity of its history and secular heritage.
Margilan, Uzbekistan

An Uzbekistan's Breadwinner

In one of the many bakeries in Margilan, worn out by the intense heat of the tandyr oven, the baker Maruf'Jon works half-baked like the distinctive traditional breads sold throughout Uzbekistan
Karanga ethnic musicians join the ruins of Great Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe
Great ZimbabweZimbabwe

Great Zimbabwe, Little Bira Dance

Karanga natives of the KwaNemamwa village display traditional Bira dances to privileged visitors to the ruins of Great Zimbabwe. the most iconic place in Zimbabwe, the one who, after the decree of colonial Rhodesia's independence, inspired the name of the new and problematic nation.  
4th of July Fireworks-Seward, Alaska, United States
Seward, Alaska

The Longest 4th of July

The independence of the United States is celebrated, in Seward, Alaska, in a modest way. Even so, the 4th of July and its celebration seem to have no end.
End of the day at the Teesta river dam lake in Gajoldoba, India
Dooars India

At the Gates of the Himalayas

We arrived at the northern threshold of West Bengal. The subcontinent gives way to a vast alluvial plain filled with tea plantations, jungle, rivers that the monsoon overflows over endless rice fields and villages bursting at the seams. On the verge of the greatest of the mountain ranges and the mountainous kingdom of Bhutan, for obvious British colonial influence, India treats this stunning region by Dooars.
Maksim, Sami people, Inari, Finland-2
Inari, Finland

The Guardians of Boreal Europe

Long discriminated against by Scandinavian, Finnish and Russian settlers, the Sami people regain their autonomy and pride themselves on their nationality.
View of Fa Island, Tonga, Last Polynesian Monarchy
Got2Globe Photo Portfolio
Got2Globe Portfolio

Exotic Signs of Life

Sigiriya capital fortress: homecoming
Sigiriya, Sri Lanka

The Capital Fortress of a Parricide King

Kashyapa I came to power after walling up his father's monarch. Afraid of a probable attack by his brother heir to the throne, he moved the main city of the kingdom to the top of a granite peak. Today, his eccentric haven is more accessible than ever and has allowed us to explore the Machiavellian plot of this Sri Lankan drama.
Moorea aerial view
Moorea, French Polynesia

The Polynesian Sister Any Island Would Like to Have

A mere 17km from Tahiti, Moorea does not have a single city and is home to a tenth of its inhabitants. Tahitians have long watched the sun go down and transform the island next door into a misty silhouette, only to return to its exuberant colors and shapes hours later. For those who visit these remote parts of the Pacific, getting to know Moorea is a double privilege.
Passengers on the frozen surface of the Gulf of Bothnia, at the base of the "Sampo" icebreaker, Finland
Winter White
Kemi, Finland

It's No "Love Boat". Breaks the Ice since 1961

Built to maintain waterways through the most extreme arctic winter, the icebreaker Sampo” fulfilled its mission between Finland and Sweden for 30 years. In 1988, he reformed and dedicated himself to shorter trips that allow passengers to float in a newly opened channel in the Gulf of Bothnia, in clothes that, more than special, seem spacey.
Cove, Big Sur, California, United States
Big Sur, USA

The Coast of All Refuges

Over 150km, the Californian coast is subjected to a vastness of mountains, ocean and fog. In this epic setting, hundreds of tormented souls follow in the footsteps of Jack Kerouac and Henri Miller.
Capelinhos volcano, Misterios, Faial, Azores
Capelinhos Volcano, Faial, Azores

On the trail of the Capelinhos Mistery

From one coast of the island to the opposite one, through the mists, patches of pasture and forests typical of the Azores, we discover Faial and the Mystery of its most unpredictable volcano.
Sheki, Autumn in the Caucasus, Azerbaijan, Autumn Homes
Sheki, Azerbaijan

autumn in the caucasus

Lost among the snowy mountains that separate Europe from Asia, Sheki is one of Azerbaijan's most iconic towns. Its largely silky history includes periods of great harshness. When we visited it, autumn pastels added color to a peculiar post-Soviet and Muslim life.
Graciosa, Azores, Monte da Ajuda
Natural Parks
Graciosa, Azores

Her Grace the Graciosa

Finally, we will disembark in Graciosa, our ninth island in the Azores. Even if less dramatic and verdant than its neighbors, Graciosa preserves an Atlantic charm that is its own. Those who have the privilege of living it, take from this island of the central group an esteem that remains forever.
city ​​hall, capital, oslo, norway
UNESCO World Heritage
Oslo, Norway

A Overcapitalized Capital

One of Norway's problems has been deciding how to invest the billions of euros from its record-breaking sovereign wealth fund. But even immoderate resources don't save Oslo from its social inconsistencies.
Look-alikes, Actors and Extras

Make-believe stars

They are the protagonists of events or are street entrepreneurs. They embody unavoidable characters, represent social classes or epochs. Even miles from Hollywood, without them, the world would be more dull.
conversation at sunset
Boracay, Philippines

The Philippine Beach of All Dreams

It was revealed by Western backpackers and the film crew of “Thus Heroes are Born”. Hundreds of resorts and thousands of eastern vacationers followed, whiter than the chalky sand.
Mtshketa, Holy City of Georgia, Caucasus, Svetitskhoveli Cathedral
Mtskheta, Georgia

The Holy City of Georgia

If Tbilisi is the contemporary capital, Mtskheta was the city that made Christianity official in the kingdom of Iberia, predecessor of Georgia, and one that spread the religion throughout the Caucasus. Those who visit see how, after almost two millennia, it is Christianity that governs life there.
Flam Railway composition below a waterfall, Norway.
On Rails
Nesbyen to Flam, Norway

Flam Railway: Sublime Norway from the First to the Last Station

By road and aboard the Flam Railway, on one of the steepest railway routes in the world, we reach Flam and the entrance to the Sognefjord, the largest, deepest and most revered of the Scandinavian fjords. From the starting point to the last station, this monumental Norway that we have unveiled is confirmed.
Christian believers leaving a church, Upolu, Western Samoa
Upolu, Samoa  

The Broken Heart of Polynesia

The imagery of the paradisiacal South Pacific is unquestionable in Samoa, but its tropical beauty does not pay the bills for either the nation or the inhabitants. Anyone who visits this archipelago finds a people divided between subjecting themselves to tradition and the financial stagnation or uprooting themselves in countries with broader horizons.
Saksun, Faroe Islands, Streymoy, warning
Daily life
Saksun, StreymoyFaroe Islands

The Faroese Village That Doesn't Want to be Disneyland

Saksun is one of several stunning small villages in the Faroe Islands that more and more outsiders visit. It is distinguished by the aversion to tourists of its main rural owner, author of repeated antipathies and attacks against the invaders of his land.
Jeep crosses Damaraland, Namibia
damaraland, Namíbia

Namibia On the Rocks

Hundreds of kilometers north of Swakopmund, many more of Sossuvlei's iconic dunes, Damaraland is home to deserts interspersed with red rocky hills, the young nation's highest mountain and ancient rock art. the settlers South Africans they named this region after the Damara, one of the Namibian ethnic groups. Only these and other inhabitants prove that it remains on Earth.
Passengers, scenic flights-Southern Alps, New Zealand
Scenic Flights
Aoraki / Mount Cook, New Zealand

The Aeronautical Conquest of the Southern Alps

In 1955, pilot Harry Wigley created a system for taking off and landing on asphalt or snow. Since then, his company has unveiled, from the air, some of the greatest scenery in Oceania.