How magnificent! It was spellbinding when my plane touched down, hitting the tarmac after a dogfight with the turbulent winds. Nobody said that it would be easy to get there. Oftentimes, the best things in life do not come without applying oneself. In this case, arriving on a remote utopia in the Atlantic would require some floundering, nonetheless, it would be worth the wait.
It could have been anxiety from the landing or simply the anticipation of getting there that peaked my nerves. A woman praying aloud in the back row didn’t help either. I tuned her out with a deaf ear and instead focused with my ocular senses. The blood rushed to my head while my eyes were mesmerized. I stared out the window at her stunning beauty, as if I had been enchanted by a pearl. After all, that’s the moniker given to this remarkable island—The Pearl of the Atlantic.
When I discovered Madeira, the feeling was reminiscent of a homecoming even though I had never been nor had any family ties there. There was a familiarity unlike anything else. While passengers were disembarking the plane I was awestruck in my seat. It was hard to describe but if one word could do so that would be—exceptional. She is undoubtedly special. Her magnificence shines brighter than how the sun hits the iridescent waters off the horizon. From the moment I arrived at the airport I was in love.
That breezy landing strip, nestled on the southeastern edge, was where I saw the ocean splash into the rocky coast for the first time. Looking out to the blue yonder felt like standing at the end of the earth. The elevation was frightfully rapturous. It was like seeing a postcard come to life. To witness that in real time was unbelievable. The view made me weak in the knees.
How such elegance can endure.
I stood there as if waiting for the ocean to swallow the island whole. For heaven’s sake, I only got there! Legend has it that the waters gave us such splendor and that one day it would take it back. It could happen at any given moment but there I glanced at the face of temporality. The not-so-distant Islas Desertas stared back at me as a stark reminder of my mortality. That must be what it’s like to enter heaven’s gates.
Opposite to the ocean was the glorious volcanic rock that held me above sea level. A collection of jagged pinnacles chained together, leaning on one another to keep afloat. The mountains faded into the sky as if God’s finger could just come down and flick any one of us. In that moment, I felt like I was among the clouds, one in the same, floating majestically over the current. Red soil along the elevated ridges were splattered with vegetation that I had never seen before. Luminous colors stretched up the terrain to form a kaleidoscope before my eyes.
There, surrounded by the beautiful nature, I would embark along the mountainside towards the epicenter of the island. Far in the middle of that comatose volcano, there were points of interest to be found. My exposition would begin. There was plenty more to be discovered. She would open herself to my absorption like how the islanders guzzle some euphoric nectar.
My digital camera chronicled everything that I witnessed. Sight, sound, taste. With every photo, no less than a thousand words could describe those feelings within the frame. I look back at the gallery and can describe every detail leading up to each capture. It’s that feeling of knowing that comes with experience. Memories that last a lifetime. It was a fantastic trip on that soil, that of which would become my home away from home. She captivated my heart. It was on that vacation where I found my sentiment of a heritage discovered.