Across the dark blue waters of Atlantic, north of Madeira, lies a quaint little island Porto Santo. I knew little about it, except that it was supposed to have beautiful sandy beaches and could be reached by ferry from the Port of Funchal.
Always one to explore new territories, I had wanted to go during our previous visits to Madeira but John had refused to budge.
This time around in May 2016, I became more insistent and persuasive. “The ferry is fairly big and stable and it won’t be as bad as the one when we crossed the English Channel a few years ago,” I assured him. Besides, I need a photographer.
So on Wednesday morning, we rose early to board the ship to Porto Santo. During the two and half hours’ crossing, no motion sickness; instead we enjoyed a coffee and sweet treats, popping onto the sunny deck from time to time to snap pictures of the ever shrinking island we left behind and the one we were sailing towards.
On approaching the shore, what greeted our eyes were that of a marvellously pure, yellow sandy beach, curved along the bay, stretching endlessly.
Although the biggest industry for Porto Santo is tourism, compared to her richer and bigger cousin Madeira some distance away, Porto Santo is a serene picture of peace and calm, a rare gem of get-away-from-all, far far away from the hassle and bustle which constantly confront the city dwellers. Even after our fairly large ferryful of people debarked, the island seemed to have absorbed them without efforts. On the long stretches of soft sandy beach, we saw only a handful of people sun bathing.
Following our brief consultation with the woman in the Tourist Information office, we found a little church. Under the noon sunshine, the white church with lovely blue pottery tiles depicting the death of Jesus shone brightly and inviting. We went in and saw a set of most usually wood sculptures of Jesus and his twelve disciples. From my mind’s eye, I saw many a fishermen, explorers, and perhaps even pirates who would go in praying for safety during their missions on the dangerous and unpredictable ocean. Once they set sail, they never knew whether the waters would be friend or foe.
We visited Columbus’s old House next, which is now a museum. On the courtyard, a picture of sailing ship was built into the ceramic ground. A little rose garden was in full bloom and naturally I stopped to appreciate its beauty and to smell its fragrance.
After feeding ourselves with a tasty Madeira brand of local bread with bacon and cheese, we found a spot on the beach. I was not going to pass the opportunity to have a splash in the sea. The waves came rushing to shore and then ebbed away, with a power to thrill and to cool, to excite and to sooth. As always when I was by the sea, I felt my spirit soar, like an eagle flying high and free, and a pure joy filling my heart and soul.
Later, we hired a tandem which took us along the wondrous coast, all the way to the tip of the island, where we stopped for a coffee and cakes. En route, we feasted on the changing scenery as the breeze caressed our faces, energising our legs and pushing us forward. There was a cycle lane along part of the ride but very few cars passing us by. We were one with nature.
I think that John was pleased that I ‘dragged’ him to Porto Santo.
We will return.