Testing the waters in Madeira
I can feel the tender warmth of the sun on my back, from very far I hear the waves bashing against the rocky coast. My lips are still salty from swimming this morning. Lazily, without moving a bone, I open my eyes to discover, that I am not the only sluggish being around. Only a few centimetres away is a gecko – sunbathing. Motionless, like myself, it is lingering on the deck, taking in every beam of sun, refuelling its energies.
Assured by this little creatures, I close my eyes again and keep on doing what I am doing … nothing!
Weeks of darkness, of cold and rain lie behind me. This is my first escape. I am out in the Atlantic, miles away from the European coast. Madeira is the place of my retreat. The Portuguese island is known for blossoming all year long. And it is true! Spring is still far away, but there are flowers everywhere.
The clouds get chased by the trade winds across the Atlantic, just to then get caught in the Madeiran mountains where they spill their wet content over the island. Combined with the sun, they let exotic flowers grow and give a tropical feeling to the island.
Luise and I are staying at the Estalagem Ponta do Sol. The Design Hotel was built on top of a cliff above the ocean, located in the South West of the island. An elevator takes us up the rock and into paradise.
Away from the touristy capitol Funchal it is perfect for what I am doing: quality relaxation combined with intense sun enjoyment….
Pictures of today are passing through my inner eye. I see Luise, both legs against the rock, hands tight on the rope, slowly making her way down a 15m long waterfall.
Myself, taking a deep breath before jumping into the cold river water, which comes straight from the snowy tops of the mountains.
We went canyoning today. As the queen of misunderstandings I thought we were talking about a canoeing trip, but no! Instead we waded through a river for about four hours. Following its course, with borders lined with wild green plants and fruits as exotic as pineapple-maracujá. Every once in a while we had to rope down a waterfall or jump down to the next level.
We didn’t meet a single person, it was just us – a team of adventurous girls and one brave guide.
Just thinking about canyoning makes my adrenalin rise or maybe it is the sun on my back making me sweat. Time to dip into the pool. Scared by my sudden activity the gecko scurries away.
The thought, that water has been the main element of our trip to Madeira, crosses my mind while I watch little waves purl away from my body.
On our walks over the island water leads the way. Madeira is nerved with the so-called levadas. The small canals are an irrigation system developed to distribute water – from the rainy and humid North, to the more dry and sunnier South. They are the perfect trail for an extensive walk.
Opening my eyes in the morning, my first glimpse is at the shiny blue sea right in front of my window. Before breakfast our yoga lesson takes place on top of the cliff, our gaze still fixed on to the ocean.
During the day we swim with dolphins, climb down waterfalls or walk above the clouds, watching billions of small and shiny drops, united as one, slowly drifting towards the mountains, getting caught in their fierce peaks before ultimately bursting into tears.
And here I am – in the water again. Before I get webs, I leave the refreshing wet and stroll back to my sun deck.
The sun is already changing from bright yellow to a warm pinkish orange. The gecko did not come back. Instead Luise settles down on the white canapé, ice cubes clanging inside the glasses she holds.
It is time for the sundowner! No need to move, we are already at the best spot on the entire island to watch the daily spectacle.
Text: Karolin Langfeldt
Fotos: Luise Müller-Hofstede
Estalagem da Ponta do Sol
Canyoning + Climbing