Hiking from Fajã Grande to Aldeia da Cuada (Lajes das Flores – Flores)
Fajã Grande is the Europe’s westernmost place and that alone was a very good reason for a visit. It was also the village where we finished the hiking trail “PR1 FLO – Fajã Grande – Ponta Delgada“, a little tired of the effort it takes to walk in a muddy and slippery terrain, but with our soul filled by the landscapes that we discover when the fog allowed.
We still had strength in our legs for another walk and so we begin the walk through the village of Fajã Grande, Along the streets by the sea and by narrower paths, flanked by superimposed stone walls that surrounded farmlands of family support. Despite the fertile soil, most of the land is now abandoned due to demographic recession.
Near the harbor, which has been one of the main entry ports of the island and is now only used by local boats, we find the bathing area and the “Merendário of Fajã Grande”, a small picnic area that provides vacationers a well spent hours socializing.
In the village we found the isolation, now less extreme, that its inhabitants were subjected for years. Despite being one of the most populated parishes of “Lajes das Flores” municipality, we found few residents on the streets. Many houses are in ruins, abandoned to their fate and lifeless to enjoy this piece of land kissed by the sea and protected by rocky cliffs on his back. From them falls thundering waterfalls scratching the black walls of a white crystalline, being perhaps the best known so-called “Poço do Bacalhau”, a place that deserves an extended visit.
From the rocky cliffs falls thundering waterfalls scratching the black walls of a white crystalline, being perhaps the best known so-called “Poço do Bacalhau”.
In the seaside Avenue, the natural pools are empty for today, expecting warmer weather and the resulting avalanche of holidaymakers for a refreshing swim in the Atlantic waters. It is a treat for all the “florentinos” and visitors to the west coast of Flores. Off the coast, the uninhabited Monchique Islet hear in solitude the murmuring water and watch who navigates in these area.
Back to the village center, it was in the main street near the St. Joseph Church that we found a small grocery store where we supply for the next meal. We exchanged a few delicious moments of conversation with a native of Ponta Delgada, the village located in the north end of the island, which now assumes that Fajã Grande is her home. She commented to us that in thirty years, she only left the village to go once to S. Miguel, another to Oporto and another to Lisbon. It was enough… She likes to be at Fajã Grande.
We began the ascent to Aldeia da Cuada. No room for mistakes, always on the main road with extreme attention when a car passing by.
The fog, our faithful companion of the day, gave way to a heavy downpour just before we get to St. Anthony’s Chapel. We waited a bit under a house roof.
We reached Cuada with our legs in “automatic mode” and we walk a little longer on the ancestral ways. In addition to the recovered houses for rural tourism and to other facilities for the tourists, there is also the beautiful House of the Holy Spirit, dated 1841, that deserves a visit.
It was in this small paradise that we waited serenely for nightfall, the last night on Flores Island before we said goodbye (at least for now).
Tomorrow we will travel to Corvo Island.
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