Today was the first really gorgeous, sunny, rain-free day we've had since I arrived. Robin and I decided to rent a car so we could get out and about more easily, and it was absolutely worth it. First stop was Lagoa do Fogo (Lake of Fire), which I tried to visit the last time I was here but missed due to weather. As you can see, it's pretty stunning — a large lake in the bottom of an ancient volcano. It's about a 30-minute hike down a fairly steep trail to get to the water from the road, and we were definitely tired on the trip back up. But it was absolutely worth the effort.
This last photo shows a small concrete jetty on which I lay in the sun like a contended cat, listening to the gentle splashes and splooshes all around my head. I pretty much felt like I could have died right then and it would have been just fine.
This recording gives a pretty good idea of what it sounded like, although it's actually a composite of three separate recordings: one on each side of the jetty, and one with the recorder stuck down a hole in the concrete jetty, which you can just make out in the photo. That last part isn't entirely realistic, as I would have had to be laying with my ear in the hole to hear all those really low gurgling sounds. But the feeling is right. In the background you can also hear the many gulls and terns which nest here.
After we climbed back up we drove to the town of Vila Franca do Campo, which was the original capitol of São Miguel until 1522, when it was wiped out by an earthquake and mud slide that killed about 5000 people. It was due to this and some other earthquakes that followed that the previously-mentioned romeiros began their pilgrimages during Lent, walking counter clockwise around the island and visiting all of the churches to atone for whatever may have caused these disasters. This tradition is still carried on in the US. We've seen or heard at least one group of romeiros each day since we arrived, and I love hearing them sing/pray as they pass through the main street of town. Here's an excerpt of a recording made as they passed by our house at 5 AM. You can hear them slowly approaching over the sound of a neighbor's TV blaring from across the street.