Last week was the final instalment of my 60th birthday celebrations.  Sarah and I had 4 nights in Calheta, which is about 30 miles west of Funchal, the capital of Madeira.  The sun shone, we loafed by the pool, and I didn’t look at my emails once.  There’s not much to tell about the two days by the pool.  Imagine a walrus on a sunbed, and you’ve pretty much got me.  Its just what we needed.

We did have one exiting day.  We walked along a levada.  Levadas are are ancient channels built hundreds of years ago to carry water from the wet, forested interior to the drier but more fertile parts of the island where crops grow.  The water is so clear and pure that little fish that look like trout swim in it. We walked about 6 miles or so from Rabacal to a little lake – called 25 Fountains – at the foot of a cliff.  It was an absolutely beautiful spot, though a little crowded.

Our hotel was the Savoy Saccharum, so named because it was the site of an old sugar mill.  I discovered that way back in the 15th and 16th centuries, sugar plantations worked by African slaves were established on the island.  The economic model was so successful it was imported to the West Indies and elsewhere.

The hotel was good, although the dim lighting throughout would have caused big problems to anyone with a visual impairment.  But it was a lovely break.  What a treat to have 4 days of sunshine in November!

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