Monday, December 03, 2007

The 98th good thing about Lagos: A chance to visit our son's mission on a great Thanksgiving trip

One of the plusses of our hardship post here is that not only do we get 2 R & R trips a year, but the company also pays for our college-age son to either come here or meet us somewhere. Jordan returned at the end of August from 2 years service in the Portugal Porto mission, where he served for 6 months on the island of Madeira. We chose to take our Thanksgiving vacation on this beautiful island. Madeira belongs to Portugal and is located in the Atlantic 378 miles west of Morocco. It's a volcanic island with beautiful mountains, vistas, waterfalls and great hiking. It is sometimes referred to as "the Hawaii of Europe." Brent and I flew to Lisbon via Paris, and spent a night there. We met Jordan at the airport the next morning and took the 1 1/2 hour flight from Lisbon to Madeira on the Saturday morning before Thanksgiving week. It was so great to spend this week with Jordan, to let him be our guide and interpreter. It was fun to see how well he conversed in Portuguese and have him show off this beautiful place that he had grown to love. The weather was not ideal -- we had rain and fog that hampered some of the beautiful views. But the bonus were beautiful rainbows every day.

The rain also brought wonderful waterfalls all over the island.

Madeira has great hiking along the levadas, which are drainage canals that were built to direct water from the mountainous north down to the drier southlands. The levadas were built with paths alongside to help with maintenance, so they provide perfect walking trails through mountain areas impassable by road. I wish the weather and our fitness level would have allowed some of the more strenuous hikes, but it felt wonderful to do the hiking we were able to do.

There were beautiful flowers all over the island, alongside roads -- the bird-of-paradise is the flower of Madeira and it is all over the place. There were even wild hydrangeas along the road, as well as beautiful flowers in gardens and the market.

There was lots of fog in high places.

But still plenty of beautiful views to be appreciated.

There was the bustling city of Funchal in the South and the quaint village of Santana in the North.

We spent Thanksgiving day on the neighboring island of Porto Santo -- visiting the museum that is built by the traditional home of Christopher Columbus, who lived here for several years before his journey to find a new route to Asia. This island has a long stretch of beautiful, pristine beach.

Our last night in Madeira, we walked through downtown Funchal, admiring the beautiful Christmas lights, which had just been lit. We have great memories of the beauty of Madeira, and hope that we will be able to return someday.

If you're still interested, you can visit my web album and view even more of my Madeira pictures. Here's the link:

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