Kayaking in the Azores

We got caught in a cowjam. 

It’s quite common, as our tour guide explained, and delighted me, because as a kid in England I would help herd cows from one field to the other.  Really, the cows don’t need herding, they know full well where they’re going.  

Having a human along is more to keep the drivers in line (how many people will not indulge a ten year old in pigtails who’s guiding a couple dozen or more lazy bovine moseying down the road?)

We were off to go kayaking in the Azores (Ah-ZORS) yesterday.  Think Hawaii without the Polynesian influence, the glitz, the money or the traffic.  Add European farmers, subtract about 700,000 people and you’re pretty close. 

Oh, and make it CHEAP.  Really, really cheap.  Like freaking cheap.  I love the Azores.  Sadly, it’s been discovered and it’s turning their economy on its head. 

But enough of that. 

So, off we went for kayaking. Since our Irish adventure got bounced by Hurricane Helene, and we instead went south, we managed to book a private kayaking tour in Sete Cidades.  It’s in a volcanic crater. 

It looks like two lakes…it’s quite odd…buts it’s really just one in an hourglass shape.  One side looks a deep blue, the other green, divided by a bridge. The folklore is two lovers were kept apart, and wept for each other, forming the lake, and one had green eyes, the other blue – hence the different colors. 


I’m more inclined to go with the scientific bit about how the green side has a large algae population.  But that’s me. 

So off we went.  I had the worst time with our guide’s name.  Tiago.  (Tomatillo, Tongo, Tango…unngh).  Nice guy, reminded me of Kodi.  Wanted to be helpful as can be, bumbled a bit at times. 

At the end of the 40 minute drive, the last mile of which was a bone-rattling banging down an unpaved dirt road, before the two hour kayaking:  “Sooo…we arrre herrre.  I will get out the kayaks.”

“Lovely!  Um…Ton..uh, Tiago, where’s the loo?”

Big Portuguese smile. “What you need?”

“The loo.  Bathroom.  Toilet.”

The large, hairy Portuguese young man looked crestfallen.  “You…need to go?”

“There’s no loo?!”

Bright smile.  “No problem!  I will take you to the village.”

Good thing I wasn’t desperate.  Back we rattled, took care of the necessities, and bounced back to the boats. 

He got out a sleek red fiberglass little number.  Oooh. She’s a beauty.  12’ long.  Nimble. Saucy. 

I headed over to get my hat out of the van, mentally rubbing my hands together.  Heh, heh, heh. 

While my back was turned, he unloaded the kayaking equivalent of Quasimodo. 

Actually, he required Sheri’s help because the bastard was so big. And worse yet, it was a triple. Not a double. A freaking TRIPLE. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I adore my wife. I always will and I trust she feels the same about me.  However I WANT MY OWN DAMN KAYAK. 

This giant yellow plastic banana was more riverboat than kayak.  You coulda backed a small car onto it, it woulda remained upright.  I was just about looking underneath it for the training wheels.  Tom Sawyer should’ve been standing at the helm pushing with a pole, damn the paddles. 

Sheri, ever the good sport, said it was fine.  

I am not a good sport.  (Yes, Mummy, I can hear you sighing at me, but I did TRY to be good about it.  I just…wasn’t terribly successful.)

So out we went in the giant banana Quasimodo, me in front, Sheri in back.  We had an empty seat between us. 

If you ever want to test a marriage, stick the participants in an unbalanced boat, give them paddles and challenge them to paddle in a straight line. 

“Dearest…you’re paddling too hard to the left.”

“No.  I’m not. I wish you would stop over correcting and don’t accuse me when you can’t even see what I’m doing.”

“I don’t need to see what you’re doing, my love. The kayak is listing and it. Is. Not. Me.”

This went on for a while. Sheri is usually the most laid back person on the planet and she was starting to get annoyed.  Tiago offered to let me try his spitfire (oh, hell yes!!) so we switched places – damn, that thing is FUN!


At that point we learned there was something wrong with ole Quasi.  He pulled to one side.  Poor Tiago, I paddled around the green lake in the red pocket rocket, then Sheri took her turn on the blue lake.   Our poor Portuguese porter got puffed paddling me or Sheri around in the defective banana boat. 

On the return to the ship we learned another of the more curious Azorean customs. Parking.  Specifically, parking while admiring the views. They don’t…really…see the point in pulling over.  There’s just not a whole lot of traffic, so why not just, well, stop?  Anyone else can drive around you, it’s cool. 

“Yeeees, but Tiago, that’s a BLIND CURVE in front of us, dear.”

Big grin. “Yes.”  Hops out of the van, runs around, opens door.  “Sheri, you want to take the photo?”

She climbed out.

Oh, hell. I jumped out.  Selfie!


We ended the tour dropped off at the Prince of Cheeses (dairy and seafood are their primary exports), a cheese shop.  They fortunately understood “mild” when they asked what I wanted…ooooh.

Nice large round of the dreamiest cheese… €5. Did I mention this place is crazy cheap?  I bought two. 

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