A crazy, funny, busy day…A new lesson learned…A year ago, Naples, Italy…

These are the roses Gina picked for us last night from the massive rose bushes growing outside her aunt’s house.
Yesterday, was a fun day, unplanned and unexpected.  In essence, those are often the most memorable occasions, laced with humor and warm feelings.

I must preface this by starting with my terrible faux pas…twice in one day, I left the house without the camera, something I hope never to do again.  On both occasions I was distracted by the events on hand.

All over the mountains there are long steep steps as such as shown in photo, most without handrails.

Although, there are other unrelated photos I’ve saved for today, we’ll kindly ask our readers to use their imagination for these few stories.

In the morning, I reminded Tom that we are in need of fresh vegetables.  We always keep a few bags of frozen veggies in case of such an emergency but, fresh is our preference. 

Another steep set of steps without handrails.

Most nights, I roast a pan of fresh, cut-into-chunks veggies in the oven tossed with olive oil and seasonings, cooking them on high heat for 35 minutes tossing them a few times.  They tend to caramelize and are nothing short of amazing.

With enough veggies left for last night, I was more concerned about Sunday’s dinner.  The obvious solution was to listen for the produce guy’s musical truck.  There’s a trick to catching him when usually he and the other trucks seem to zoom past our house not giving us ample time to get out the door.  We wear our shoes in the house with Tom’s wallet nearby so we can dash outside on a dime.

This old unoccupied house is buried under vines and vegetation.

At around 10:00 am, we heard the music.  Quickly, we jumped up going though our little routine of getting out the door, Tom grabbing the wallet, me dashing to the street.

Alas, the musical truck had already passed us.  Tom said, “Let’s drive after him!”  I agree as he grabbed the car keys and off we went.  Luckily, we can see up the steep road that winds from our house and we saw the truck had stopped for another customer a half mile up the hill.

This photo does no justice to how steep this road actually is. 

Quickly maneuvering the winding road, we made our way to the truck in no time, excited to know we’d be able to restock our vegetable supply.  I was the first to jump out of the car and run to the open back of the truck.  The driver was engaged in a conversation with another man on the side of the road, paying no attention to us.

Approaching the open back of the truck, a sinking feeling came over me when I realized there were no vegetables.  As I looked further, I gasped, as Tom approached the truck.  “It’s not vegetables,”  I said as I began to laugh, “It’s live chickens!”

These are mailboxes in our neighborhood.

Peering into the back of the truck, we saw a cage filled with live chickens ready for purchase by an ambitious cook.  My first thought was that I didn’t have the camera.  My second thought was that I’m definitely not that ambitious a cook. Tom agreed that neither was he.  We giggled, waved to the chicken truck guy and returned home, hoping the vegetable truck guy would soon appear. 

He never did.  The fish truck guy drove passed once again but, we had no room in the freezer for more fish after our recent purchase of the “catch of the day.”

This old run down house is out of place in the charming area.

It was a windy day and we’d decided to stay in.  I was cooking two different dinners; grilled tuna for me (the second night) and meatballs with sauce and grated cheese for Tom, salad and the remaining roasted vegetables.  Plus, I had a few loads of laundry to do which we’d have to dry indoors in the high winds.

The remainder of the day was relatively quiet.  I spent time posting for the day.  Tom worked on our future travels.  We paid the final payment on the upcoming cruise from London to Boston leaving on August 31st, a mere 74 days from today.

The colors of flowers on the island is breathtaking.

Dinner was delightful as always. We watched an episode of “Last Comic Standing” laughing all the while, content to be healthy, together and loving our home in Madeira, now three weeks into our stay.

After dinner, we heard a knock at the door, jumping up wondering who it may be.  Of course, it was none other than our dear friend Gina, stopping by to see if we needed anything.  I had wanted to give her some of the “atum,” (tuna) anyway so her timing was perfect.  She was especially thrilled when she told us that the fish truck doesn’t come to Funchal, where she, her husband and daughter live.

Are these gardenias?  The smell was lovely!

The only request we had was for her to describe where we could find the two local restaurants here in Campanario.  Immediately, her eyes lit up and she announced, “Come, let’s go. I show you!”

We all jumped into the blue rental car and took off up the hill as Gina directed us.  As soon as we were on our way, once again, I realized I’d forgotten the camera.  It was getting dark and it wouldn’t matter anyway, I justified to myself.  How sorry I was. 

A yellow rose we found on a walk.

Gina’s bubbly enthusiasm is contagious. We love being with her.  She directed us to her aunt’s house first so she could pick roses for me.  The sprawling house was charming surrounded by flowers in full bloom.  Oh, camera.  Her aunt who has been ill for some time, waved to us from the rooftop.  Her uncle bantered on cheerfully in Portuguese and we were instantly charmed.

Roses picked and in my hands, we were back on the hilly, curvy roads to the restaurants. Three times I asked Tom, “Are you sure you’ll remember how to find these?”  Three times he smiled assuring me he would.  He’s so patient with me when I ask the same question several times, getting the same answer each time.

As darkness fell, we arrived at the restaurants, close to one another by no more than a few long blocks on winding roads.  Over the next few weeks we’ll try them both.  One of them has a very unusual theme which we’ll go to first and share here with photos and details.  We can hardly wait!

Tourists walking on the “levada” the path above our house.

Gina had Tom return over a different route showing us the “levada” a long walking path in the mountains which we’ll soon explore.  As we returned to our street, we let her off at her sister’s house, another gorgeous vacation rental she insisted we come inside and see. 

It was beautiful. Her husband had designed and built the house as he has many of the houses in the area. Gina had been busy cleaning getting ready for the next arriving guests.  As it turns out most of the homeowners in this area are Gina’s relatives, as she pointed out one house after another on the beautiful street.

She asked if we liked “our” house more than the sister’s and if we’d have preferred it.  We confirmed that we love our house as she smiled from ear to ear, happy that we’re happy.  She’s asked this question several times in the past three weeks and each time we’ve assured her that we are very happy.  (Perhaps, Gina has the same question asking syndrome that I do).

These tangled vines are at the base of a palm type tree.

After the house tour, now fully dark, we decided to head home.  It was 10:00 pm. We hugged Gina and her husband goodbye and made the drive down the hill to our house. 

Tom couldn’t find the keys to the house.  He thought he’d brought them with us when we headed out realizing that he’d locked them inside.  Hurriedly, we drove back up the hill hoping Gina would still be there.  Thank goodness, she was still there but, didn’t have an extra set of keys.  She called her father who lives nearby and keeps an extra set of keys. We waited for him to arrive and he appeared a short time later.

Terraced gardens are seen everywhere on the island.

We were thrilled to finally meet Antonio.  We’ve waved at him several times when we’ve seen him working in his massive gardens.  Shaking his hand, calloused from years of hard work, brought back memories of my grandfather who’s large calloused hands never hesitated to hold a hand or gently pat a cheek.

Soon, we were back home after Gina’s daughter insisted on running the keys back to Antonio after we were safely inside. Our keys were on the inside of the door where we’d left them.  Had Gina left, we’d have been in quite the predicament.  Once again, we dodged a bullet or, in other words…safari luck.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with more new photos from today’s outing. I  promised I won’t forget to bring the camera! And, Tom won’t forget the keys!

Here is the photo from one year ago today, June 8, 2013:

Our ship docked in Naples, Italy.  With the few excursions available and at this point, having seen so many historical buildings, we decided against going on a crowded bus tour. For details for this date when we had issues with our rented MiFi which continued for the next three months when we lived in Tuscany, please click here.

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