The Portuguese word “miradouro” literally translates to “golden sight.”
There are hundreds of these golden sights located across the Azores. Some of them are right alongside the road and others at the end of long, worn-down farming paths. Usually the harder they are to find the better the view, but maybe that’s just been my experience.
I found the miradouro “Cabeço do Geraldo” by accident. It was four years ago when I first arrived in the Azores. I just wanted to climb as high up as I could without having to summit Mount Pico. I went up the main road in Lajes towards Terras and turned onto a secondary street that the more I traversed the less houses and people there were. Eventually I came to a steep slope of loose rocks and I thought If I climbed it I would be able to find another incline to take me even higher.
So up I went.
At the top, red gravel paths lead left and right. I went left until I found another slope. At the top of that slope I found a marker that read “Miradouro do Geraldo.” I followed the sign through the farm gates, past the two tall antennas and found myself in the clouds overlooking the Island. The best part about it wasn’t the view, as tremendous as it was, the noise was what attracted me most. Everything grew quiet. I was sweating and breathing hard, my legs hurt, I could hear my heart beating, the sound against my chest. The wind blew, the crickets sang, the cows moo’d from ways down the mountainside but I was there in solitary. All the external noise was gone. My mind cleared without outside distraction. It was quite a beautiful moment if I may say.
Four years have passed since my first visit and when a co worker showed me photos of sunset at the miradouro I knew I had to make another trip. I knew more or less how to get there; so again I went up the main road towards Terras, turned onto the secondary street and walked until I came by a few farmers harvesting a cornfield. I asked them if they knew the best way to get there. We shared a few words and one of the guys offered to give me a ride.
By the time we made it to Cabeço do Geraldo the sun was beginning to set. The green hills were tinted with sunset hues, Mount Pico appeared as brilliant as ever with the blazing sun to the left of its peak. And the sound-There I was in solitary again.
The wind was soft this time,
the cows yawned,
the crickets creaked.
It was just as beautiful, just as peaceful as I remembered it; except this time the light shifted from a warm spectrum of colours to a tranquil, cool blend of blues and purples. There I was witnessing it, experiencing it as if it were for the first time.
Photos taken on September 9, 2019 Pico, Azores Cabeço do Geraldo
The entries you’re going to read in this article were taken from my journal’s pages I wrote through the month of July. Naturally they’re more personal and encompass a wide array of topics. I wanted to share these entries with you in a separate blog post solely devoted to that purpose since I found mixing my photography and personal anecdotes didn’t always work together.
Furthermore, I want to make it clear to you guys, my readers, viewers, and friends, that my goal with this blog is to be as real, as raw, as… I hate to use this word in the current vocabulary climate, but as authentic as I can possibly be. The last thing I want is for my blog to be distant, indirect, and impersonal.
My promise to you guys is to be myself- no more, no less.
I think it’s important I make these types of posts considering the majority of travel blogs adhere to the impersonal, professional travel- influencer, “this is where you should go and what you should see and eat” narrative. There’s an abundance of blogs you can go to for recommendations and a scarcity of blogs that give their personal accounts of the places they go.
If my photographs are the external landscapes in which I visit and see, then my anecdotes are the internal landscape in which I interpret and make meaning from my experiences.
With that said, the following entries are my thoughts and observations, my point of view, my perspective.
Thank you for sticking with me.
-When I passed by cafe Lajense I saw Frankie’s long white beard and recognised his wife Cathy by his side. I stopped in to say hello and we got to catch up for a while. I reminded them that I still keep the card they gave me four years ago which when read in Hebrew from right to left: ” Hay kof men” means ” Rising from depression.” I expressed how appreciative I was of them for inviting me to their home and sharing their time and food with me.
Frankie and Cathy introduced me to their friend Amanda who told me she moved from England to Pico Island on a whim. Pico was the place to be and apparently when she she arrived sometime in the late winter season she had the intuitive, gut feeling that she came to the right place. Although we only shared a small conversation, it left me curious in what more she had to say about her travels. I’m sure we’ll cross paths again and talk more about how she ended up here.
Which brings me to this question:
How does one accurately describe how they ended up where they are?
Is it possible to acredit a certain series of events as to why you are where you are, or do you have to take everything into account before those said events as well? I once listened to a lecture by Alan Watts about how it’s almost impossible to state in absolute terms when an event begins and ends since prior to the events there is an accumulation of “pre events” which are the cause and afterwards there the effects which ripple far past the actual occurrence.
Are we not products of the decisions we made in the past? And don’t the decisions we make today change who we are tomorrow?
-When it comes to traveling, you’ll meet people from all over the world who are there for various reasons. The reason is one thing and the reason behind the reason is a whole different story. I could say I’m in the Azores right now because my plan is to travel throughout Portugal, throughout Europe once my family migrates and settles here in Lajes. The reason is a means to travel more.
Yet someone could ask me further, why I come to the Azores in the first place and the answer to that includes numerous aspects of my story/past. Those stories- those memories are just as important, if not more important than the reason I’m here right now, but at the same time all of it is just one collective reason as to why I’m here.
Some people travel solely for business purposes and spend their time in other countries simply because those are the requirements/ job description.
Other people travel for vacation; spending their time in resorts, cruise ships, and perfect getaways from their busy lives.
We all travel for different reasons. What interests me are the people in search for existential answers to questions regarding mortality, self, and what composes a meaningful life.
I remember asking the Australian guy on the chiva bus tour in Cartagena why he was in Colombia. He kinda just laughed at the question and responded, “the same reason you’re here.” The truth, as I’ve wrote in another article, is that there wasn’t a specific reason besides getting out of the complicated, stressful muddle in Florida.
My friend and I wanted a break and an adventure we’d never forget. We got both those things and more.
Although my reason wasn’t solid, I don’t think it really matters since by the end of that South America trip I learned so much about myself in a matter of two months. A strong part me of thinks the reason for traveling anywhere can only be revealed once you return home from the trip and are able to form meaning out of your experiences.
Now that I’m thinking about it, you don’t really need a logical reason to go anywhere. Like Amanda, you just need a feeling inside of you.
This place I know so well used to be my childhood curiosity.
Now that I’m here, here again, my days spent living, learning, knowing seem like a chestnut dream.
I wake up in Lajes do Pico, here I am in summer’s flare recalling memories back when I only imagined so.
If you’re in a haze, snap out of it!
Walk looking forward, not downward.
The haze meaning a sense of frustration, sadness, confusion, anger, self-pity, jealousy. These are all normal to experience and feel, but if you live your life in a haze you’re wasting time. Feel what you feel but don’t allow yourself to perpetuate it any longer than its natural duration. Feel the emotion and then let it pass. Don’t let it linger.
Walk looking forward with purpose, you have somewhere to be. Don’t drag yourself around and fake a smile. Pick yourself up, breathe, come back to your senses and if it helps; count to ten. By the end of those ten seconds know that when you snap your fingers you’re out of the haze and into the clear.
June passed as quick as it could’ve. Last night I was taking in the view from the terrace atop Avo’s house. The grape vines completely cover the spaces between each faded post and the grapes themselves, although not fully ripe, are already plump and in abundance. Sitting down on a cement filled flower pot I was admiring how the sun struck the leaves in such a way that made them appear more gold than green. The pointed edges flapping like a flag.
I kept returning to my breath trying to prevent any senseless thinking. Minutes passed. A few more. More still, and with the last moments of daylight I sipped my last bit of coffee, placed it on the floor, stood up resting my hands on the bars above where the grapes grew, and stretched my arms, shoulders, and back. I felt slightly more relaxed before heading in for the night.