I agreed and our group of seven people and two cars arrived at our destination around 3 am. A couple of hours and a few beers later I was introduced to Marlene, a local girl and friend of Sonia. Marlene is a beautiful young woman who had spent two years in London and was eager to practice her English with me; I promptly agreed.
|The fete was well under way when we arrived|
We chatted and danced until 7 am. Marlene suggested we all went back to her place with a crate of beer. We all agreed.
We walked through her garden under a suspended vineyard and reached her house, a two storey country home perched on the side of a hill.
We all talked and drank beer for the next 2 hours. By then some of us were feeling the worse for wear and the sofa and bed were quickly claimed by Isabel Juan Suzanna and Ayrton.
Marlene appeared with a giant foam mattress, placed it in the middle of the living room, collapsed onto it and signalled to Sonia and I to join her and try to get some sleep. I lay next to Marlene, face to face, and continued with our conversation as all others drifted into their drunken slumber.
I was tired by then but hoped Marlene would stay awake and we could continue chatting. I looked at my watch and it was 09:30 am. Then I fell asleep.
An hour later I woke up, not sure of where I was. I looked around and saw that all were fast asleep. I got up and decided to go to the nearest cafe for my morning fix.
I walked through the suspended vineyard and was struck by the beauty of the whole place.
|I had to squint as daylight hit me.Seconds later, this is what I saw. What a|
beautiful way to start the day!
I strolled around the village, admiring the stunning views and also the way all the local people who were going about their business managed a smile - at a stranger in their midst.
|Fajã do Penedo village|
Back at the house the rest were stirring awake as I returned. Sonia insisted on us all going to her parents for lunch while Marlene got ready to go to her kiosk at the fete. We exchanged phone numbers.
After a hearty lunch of barbecued beef and jacket potatoes we all headed back to Church Square, the fete and Marlene's kiosk. Marlene and I chatted and drank beer for a couple more hours. I kept referring to this beautiful and serene village as "her world".
The others decided it was time to head back to Funchal - it was 5:30 pm by then. We had been at the village since 3:00am.
On the drive back to Funchal Juan and Isabel kept teasing me about my new found paradise and whether it had something to do with a particular local girl called Marlene. I smiled.
On the way home I couldn't get the last 14 hours events out of my mind.
Back in my apartment, exhausted from the lack of sleep and copious drinking I collapsed into my own bed and slept soundly for four hours. I woke up to the vibrating sound of my mobile and wondered if it was Marlene. It wasn't. It was Lisandra asking me if I was going to see her play her gig at Moynihan's.
I showered and went off for another session of endless socialising and drinking.
Marlene and the beautiful village remained in my thoughts through the night. Strange how I thought I knew all of Madeira but had never visited that particular village. It is as if I had left the best till last.
I managed to send off an SMS to Marlene, thanking her for her hospitality and company. I also mentioned how impressed I was with her world... and how I'd love to be part of it.