Anyway, a week later, we were back on Sao Miguel. We got our car--which we'd opted to rent because it was so inexpensive that it would be practically worth it even if it sat most of the time, and which turned out to be the apparently epitome-of-basic Fiat 500. I didn't remember whether I'd ever been in a convertible and couldn't wait to get our bandanas out so we could ride 'topless,' but Kiera insisted that she have a chance to figure out how the gears worked and what not before 'shit starts flying in our faces.' So I directed her to a parking lot near our hostel, and then directed us to said hostel. Later, we'd know we were close when we saw the plaques for the nearby strip clubs.
Our hosts were adorable and super helpful. They explained that we shouldn't make any plans until the forecast is in, at which point they'd tell us which parts of the island are literally visible. The next day the weather wasn't great, so K opted to work and I caught a ride with a mainland-Portuguese couple staying at the same place. They were heading to Furnas, and dropped me in Villa Franca. I walked up the very big hill to the church, but the fog didn't clear in time for me to get a view of the surroundings.
I was about to WhatsApp Kiera to let her know I was heading back, but I found my phone unresponsive to touch. The wave had taken it out. It was alive, but couldn't be unlocked. I had no way of getting in touch with anyone, and I didn't particularly know where I was going. From the bus, I saw us pass the street where we'd parked, and got off at the next stop. The hostel was just over a block from there, but which block? Should I veer right or left at the V? I thought I remembered veering right the day before. And there they were: the strip-club plaques across the street a few doors down. I was in the right place. The next challenge was getting in; there was no permanent reception, and I had no way of reaching K, who might well have been asleep. But our balcony door was open, so I serenaded her from the street. That didn't seem to work, so I went back to knocking, in the hope that someone would hear me. But a few minutes later, she did come down, having heard me through the balcony door. All was well, but it was the first reminder in three days about being mindful of your surroundings.
We went to dinner and explored Ponta Delgada as the sun set.
The next day, we--together will almost literally everyone else on the island--tried to go to Sete Cidades. It was impassible, so we drove on, to Ponta da Ferraria, and then to Moisteros.
K and I agreed that our minds weren't blown. I thought it might be beauty saturation, but she thought the reality didn't live up to the hype.
The next day I again set off on my own, via cab, to Lagoa de Fogo. I got there just in time to get this spectacular view (I heard on my way down to the lake, from people coming up, that the cliffs hadn't been visible 15 minutes earlier; they wouldn't be visible 15 minutes later, either).
As I wandered around the lake, a fog set in.
It was very kind of them. It would've been a longer walk than I thought.
I once again had an hour to explore town and search fruitlessly for non-granola fare. It was worth it, to get this picture of the cat with zero f*s to give. It could've come straight out of NatGeo.
Once again, back to the hostel, except this time I had a key (and I had my non-burner phone--the burner was drying out in a bag of rice--so I could at least find a cafe with WiFi if I had to). However, that phone, though waterproof, can't be charged when the port is wet, so I put it away to conserve battery (I'd need to call my dad on it upon arrival in Boston the next day). K and I grabbed an earlyish dinner and went back to pack. It was bittersweet; we were ready to go, but we weren't.
The next day, she took off on an earlier flight and I went to a pineapple plantation,
I lounged and swam, thinking, "this time tomorrow, I'll be at work." That made the beach time that much more enjoyable.
From there, I headed back to the hostel to pick up my stuff and waited for the bus to the airport. It wasn't much less expensive than a cab, but no cabs went by. Just when I texted our hosts to ask them to call me one, the bus came. I got to the airport *just* in time to check in, recover my lost sunglasses from Customs (because that's how they do it), and board.
My dad picked me up in Boston and took me back to the airport the next morning. I spoke at an event a couple of days later, and collected my new cats over the weekend. They hid while I processed the pictures. The pictures looked unimpressive and disappointing when I was there, because the actuality of it was so much more beautiful, but now they seem really beautiful to me. It's a magical place.