Sunday, 16 September 2012

If Madeira is paradise, what on earth do I call this place?

Last Saturday night at around 01:30 am I arrived at the FX Club to meet up with friends who were performing there.Shortly after arriving Sonia suggested I  and a few friends, should drive to the north coast and attend the village fete of Fajã do Penedo, where her folks live.

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!

And this....

...and this

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.



  1. Sounds lovely. Great the way you described waking up and not being sure where you were. Oh dear though, late nights and lack of sleep- it doesn't get any easier as you get older does it? :)

    1. Not sure Dicky - actually, I think I need less sleep now than ever - woohoo :)

  2. You are such a romantic at heart!
    Fingers crossed for you!

  3. oh have the constitution of a 20 year old and the wisdom of someone in their 40's...pure bliss...
    what a great piece...i swear i wanna go to some of the places yer describing...sounds like i would fit right in :)

    1. Dan, I know it's a bit of a distance but if you ever get to this neighbourhood just let me know :) I'm sure you'd have a great time