To Fort Lauderdale where the Ramada Inn had kept safe in the Lost and Found the sandals I’d left there in October.
Across the country by train, four nights in sleeper cars via changes in Washington DC and Chicago.
These Amish elders, with whom we shared the Metropolitan Lounge between trains in Chicago, seemed to use the time for serious discussion.
Long miles across North Dakota and Montana in the snow. The sun so far in the south, our train made a shadow even at mid-day.
Right to our own doorstep. And our own snowstorm.
Our day on Madeira proved to be quite magical, and a wonderful way to end the land part of the journey. It started with Tom getting up early with me to watch us come in in the dawn dark. The island is a mountain cut with canyons, and from the harbor side it was spangled uniformly with lights. The canyons weren’t visible. By the end of the morning we had threaded through tunnels, wound along impossible roads, stopped to peer off precipices, and come back to the ship through old streets with beautiful trees, so we felt we had taken the island into our bones. We pulled out into open ocean at the end of the day, still in the bright sun, with an inexplicable feeling of longing.
Our taxi driver had created our route and was voluble in heavily Portuguese-accented Spanish. From him we learned what had created a mysterious band of grey, dead, trees above the city (a forest fire last August caused by a cigarette smoker.) He took us to beautiful corners of the island on everything from one-lane, serpentine cliff-hangers to freeway viaducts.
If anyone’s interested in some out-of-the-way reading, Ann Bridge has written some good novels that are strong in a sense of place. One of them, The Malady in Madeira, had been up to now my sole knowledge of this place. She died in 1974 or so, had been a diplomat’s wife, and was a good observer of people and places.