We were to meet up with Gabriel, one of Eric's customers, at Paul do Mar for an easy hike that he would take us on.
We truly met him and went straight up the mountain, from sea level to 620m in one go. Fortunately it was a well-maintained path which in the old days was used to bring down vegetables and wine and return with fish. Despite the hard walk it was lovely and very scenic, nobody complained.
Once up we entered a village (Prazeres) a short stop was called for a coffee break. The owner of the bar also was one of those ex-South Africans and I have forgotten in which town he had his shop. The stop was short and confusing since Gabriel indicated that we should have lunch in the center of the village where we would be able to catch a taxi to take us to the next hike.
So off we went more uphill again to the center for cooldinks, breadrolls and sardines. This was consumed sitting on the benches in the square.
It took a while to find transport and then we couldn't all go at once, each taxi only took four. Since we were still eating we volunteered to take second shift. Michael Schumacher took us up the mountain to the starting point of the hike along the Levada das 25 Fontes (levada of the 25 fountains).
Because we took so long to get up here it was 16h30 by the time we got started. First obstacle was a tunnel that carried water through the mountain. It was 500m long and wide enough for the channel, a pipe and a person. Fortunately we had all been pre-warned and carried torches.
On the other side the walk along the levada was stunning and very pleasant. We weren't certain of whether we can make it to the 25 fountains and back, so we marched aimlessly along the levada until we got to a bridge where some of us called a stop and others wanted to just look around the corner. This paid off, 15 minutes later we arrived at the fountains. I think the term 25 fountain is a misnomer, its numerous streams of water running down the mountain into a pool below.
But now we had to move, it was getting late, retracing our steps and then leaving the levada and going up the hill we got to Rabacal which is a resting place and not the taxistand we were hoping for. No, Gabriel said, we must follow the road up to the main road. Another slog of 3 km up to the main road. Getting to the main road Gabriel said we must wait, he will go to the next village to call the taxis. It was getting fairly cool, something most of us had not been prepared for. So we put on our jackets and huddled together. Gabriel came down the road saying that we must follow the road to a petrol station Franki will pick us up there. It was now getting dark, but a kilometer further up the road was this petrol station and a bar. That was very welcome, I could now have a cup of coffee in peace.
Franki and partner arrived fairly soon and off we went home. Some of us had to take a detour to drop off Gabriel in Calheta, this delayed us by about one hour before we got home tired and exhausted from the days activities.