Gordon: We are starting our second week in the Azores and we are as happy as clams. 

This trip is structured differently from most of our outings, in that we are deliberately moving less frequently between accommodations. We have abundant time, and changing lodging less frequently seems like a good idea during this plague year. As it happens, COVID is not actually much of a hazard here. There are currently 104 cases, and dropping, in a population comparable to Greater Victoria. Several islands, including Graciosa, have no cases at all. Masks must be donned to enter any shop, but the locals display little anxiety around transmission. If cases continue on their current trajectory in Canada, we may remain here for the sake of our health.

We have been getting out on our bikes almost every day. Graciosa has a gentler topography that most of the islands in the Azores, but almost any ride still involves a significant climb. Today we cycled the circumference of the island, about 35 kms, and we had three major climbs, each about 300 metres. Aside from the exertion, cycling is very good on Graciosa. Traffic is light, the surfacing is not bad, there is a good sprinkling of places to get food, and the views and sights are endlessly beautiful and engaging.

This evening our host told us there was a festival in the central square. We wandered down, attracted by the music and the smell of whole pigs roasting over fires. The event appeared to be organized by the ruling Socialist Party, which is very prominent on the island. Beer and Coke were being sold, but the rather delicious barbecued pork buns were being handed out in bulk for free. They had me at “Socialist”, but in any event I admire the candour, and taste, of pork barrel politics that involves actual pork.

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