The phone rings: "Olá, Steve. We are going to Furnas. Do you want to go? Bring a swimming suit and a towel. We will pick you up in 40 minutes." OK.
I'm assuming "we" means Raquel, my housemate Robin, visiting artist Peter Cusak, and me. Raquel arrives and there are actually two cars, the other one containing Diana, João Pedro, and two women I don't know, Rita and Isabel, who work with Diana. We drive to Furnas, which is a spa town in the caldeira of a volcano, and it is very foggy and raining (see the Penúmbria film mentioned in my previous post.) We get out at the fancy hotel at Terra Nostra park, which is a rather magnificent botanical garden with hot springs. We walk through the hotel to the park entrance, where there is a little moment of confusion as most of our group suddenly vanishes while Robin and I try to figure out whether we should bother to pay the €8 to get into the park, since it is pouring rain and we are already getting drenched. We decide to go for it because our other option is to stand around in the pouring rain waiting for them to come back.
Once in, we walk past the large public thermal pool, which I've been in before and is really not so great. But down by the dressing rooms there are a couple of other smaller pools that I did not notice when I was last here, probably because they are hidden behind a wall of plants and trees. And here we find Diana, Raquel, Peter, and João Pedro. Robin is not much of a water guy and goes off to wander the park in the rain. I'd much rather be completely drenched in a pool of hot water than in my clothes and soon join them, and we soak contentedly for a very...long...time. I can feel the last of my cold being leached away by the warm mineral water.
A couple of hours later, we somehow drag ourselves out of the water and into the hotel bar, where we find not only Robin and Rita and Isabel, but the whole entourage from the Pontes events, which has more or less merged with the Invisible Places crew. There are sandwiches and coffee and drinks and conversation, and this goes on for another hour or so. Then it is announced that we are going to dinner. So we pile in the car and head off somewhere. Turns out we are going to O Cantinho do Cais, a fabulous seafood restaurant in the little town of São Bras, where I went with Emanuel and Diana and João on my last trip. When we arrive there is a delicious fish soup already waiting on the table for us. And bread. And wine.
But then the propietor, Senhor Jorge, proceeds to serve us (about 20 people) the house specialty, molho de peixe, an incredible stew made out of several kinds of fresh fish ladled over toasted bread.
After another hour or so (coffee, pastries, etc.) some of the group are heading off to a theater thing in Ponta Delgada. Others are going to Arco 8 Gallery, where Raquel has a DJ gig tonight. Robin and I opt to be dropped off at home in Ribeira Grande, to dry out and recover, full and happy. Just another day in the islands...