Saturday, January 24, 2015

Walking part of the Levada dos Pionais and living to tell the tale

Yesterday we walked one of the many levadas here on Madeira. Our host Jorge drove us to the nearest one and started the walk with us along with his dog Zuulaika and a neighbor's dog.  He then bade farewell after a few minutes and we were off. 

The beginning of the walk was a wide path with beautiful views - "this levada walking is a piece of cake" I thought....




As you can see the scenery around us was beautiful.  We then actually got to a levada....which was pretty cool.  Mostly there were bars alongside the exposed areas (although if you lost your footing and did not hang on you would not have a happy ending) so it was easy going.



And then we got to some tunnels....




Yes we had to squat over and slither through, no hope of preserving any dignity there. 


I forgot to take my backpack off for this tunnel... oops....
Then we got to the bit where we walked along a thin strip of pavement that was approximately 14 inches wide with no barrier and a long way down. (as in if you fell it would be a one way trip)   I could handle the parts of the levada with no barrier where there was vegetation beside me to hide the chasm but this part was terrifying for me..I have vertigo.  I shuffled along watching my feet all the time...I didn't dare look sideways.... with June encouraging me.   I don't have any pictures as I was too scared to do anything but keep shuffling. When there was a break in the concrete it was "just lift your foot Laurie".  I kept saying "do the things you think you cannot do".  However yes there was definitely some swearing going on.  We passed a fellow who had turned around as the trail got even narrower with a sheer drop as in not being able to see anything but space below him. (we could see rocks, trees way below us at this point - that is if I had dared to look) so we stopped at a bridge for a quick rest and ate a pear, some cookies and had some water.  I knew I couldn't go much further and the more tired I got the shakier I would get.  This is not classed as an easy levada to walk as you might imagine....
So back we went....



 


This was the easy bit.


June got a new friend..okay mister are you the one who pooped in the middle of the path?



We were out walking for about two and a half hours.   I am so glad we did as much of it as we did and am looking forward to doing another levada walk but nothing like this ever again.  When you have vertigo and even if you don't walking along a thin precipice is sheer lunacy.  However I can say I did it and lived to tell the tale... though if I ever have a nightmare I am sure that walk will be part of it. 

After the walk we took the bus to Camara do Lobos and celebrated with a meal at one of the harbour cafés.  Then we walked the 30 minute back to our room at Jorge and Andrea's place.  And then we got shit faced with wine but that's a whole other story. 


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