Cost of fuel at US $8.68 a gallon, EU $2.29 a liter! An exquisite vegetation find…A year ago, arrival at our booked 300 year old stone house in Tuscany…

Yesterday, we climbed high into the mountain on this drive.

When we rented the medium blue car over a month ago at the airport in Funchal, the gas/petrol tank was full.  We were told to return the car with an empty tank at the end of the rental period.

Overlooking rooftops to the ocean is always a special view.

Once we arrived in Campanario, we hadn’t gone out much with my illness. Once I returned to health, we’ve been going out every few days to explore, shop, and occasionally dine out. We didn’t need to refill the tank until yesterday. 

The view is always a complex mix of homes, gardens, and farms of varying shapes and sizes.

Luckily, the medium blue car is a fuel miser, using very little petrol on these hills. Although we were stunned by the cost of filling the tank, the relief of using so little to get around softened the blow. At most, we’ll refill, once or twice until we eventually return the car at the end of our time here

What a wonderful time of year to be in Madeira as we see the terraced hills planted for the season.

When we recall our transportation costs when living in the US with insurance, fuel, maintenance, and repairs, the cost of a rental car and fuel in other countries is less than half the former monthly expenses. It is this reality that keeps us from fussing over these prices. Everything is relative

Once we arrived at the top of a mountain, we spotted these cattails like plants.

Yesterday around noon, when the produce guy never showed, we decided to go out to fill the tank, visit the little market and go for a drive higher up the mountain to a park where we took these photos. 

Of course, I had to get out of the car to inspect these as Tom managed to find a safe spot to park on the steep narrow road.

It’s amazing how our perspective of the island changes from each vantage point as we take off on one maze-like road after another, never knowing where we’ll come out or if we’ll come out, requiring we find a place to turn around. 

This was the highlight of our outing. It’s a close up of the cattail like plants as shown above in the two photos. Who knew these would be so beautiful up close?

As I’ve mentioned, the winding mountain roads on this island don’t make it easy to find one’s way around unless the destination is an easy exit off the freeway.

The locals, familiar with their complex road system, take the difficulty of finding one’s way around in their stride when they’re off the main highway. They tend to point in the direction we should go rather than suggest step by step directions. 

The vegetation changed dramatically the higher we climbed.

Most tourists visiting Madeira stay in hotels where English is spoken, tour guides are available and taxis are a chosen mode of transportation. If we’d had easy access to taxis and the language barrier wasn’t as profound, it may have been wise to use taxis for all of our transportation.

But, this isn’t Kenya or South Africa (we miss Okee Dokee!) where we can easily build a relationship with a driver to take us everywhere we’d like to go with no concern as to how to find our destination. 

Another beautiful view of a village below.

Oh. don’t get me wrong! We’re not complaining. The complexity of the roads in these hills is enchanting, let alone the majestic views! And, most assuredly, we’ll continue to explore each time we go out finding wonders we’ve never seen in the past, as shown in today’s photos.

No, there’s not much wildlife in Madeira other than the goats next door and a few birds we’ve seen on occasion.  But, we recall our original and continuing interests as we travel the world in addition to wildlife; that of exquisite scenery and vegetation of which Madeira has in abundance.

As always, a breathtaking view awaits us as we drive higher into the mountains.

If we find only one new-to-us plant, flower, or special scene on an outing, we’re fulfilled. Mother Nature continues to offer her brilliant treasures almost every time we’re out as we continue on a search of our surroundings of her beauty and riches.

In essence, one doesn’t need to travel to do this. A simple walk in one’s neighborhood or a local park can provide wonders we may never have noticed in the past.

Partway down the mountain after our drive, spotted the back view of our house which we hadn’t seen from this perspective.

For us, our acuity for finding these special sightings has become more intense now than ever in the past, a fact we never anticipated as we planned to travel the world.  When we began the planning process, we thought the renowned locations, historical buildings, and familiar tourist points of interest would highlight our travels. Little did we know how wrong our expectations would be.

When in fact, its been the simple things that have truly brought us the most joy; the kindness of a stranger, the song of a bird, an exquisite flower, or even the blaring music of the produce guy when he makes his way up the hills toward us. Where the heck is he?

Photo from one year ago today, June 18, 2013:

Up the steep winding road with numerous hairpin turns we made it to our new home in Boveglio, Tuscany, Italy, a 300-year-old stone house. For details of our arrival in Boveglio, please click here.

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