Imagine with me, if you will, that you arrive with your better half on the island of Pico after a short, turboprop flight. In a breeze, you are in and out of the little airport. You pick up a rental car with no hassle. There are few cars on the roads and the drive is pleasant. You both exclaim over the lush landscape and the traditional homes made from blocks of igneous rock. The homes blend into the landscape so well that the scene would have made Frank Lloyd Wright weep. You come to the end of a road where you find a building the size of a manor house that seems to be large for a home, but small for a hotel. This building only houses a front desk and the delicious restaurant of Hocus Pocus. Your room is in a separate building which is also lovely in the traditional style. It is as comfortably modern inside as the outside is rustic. After a day of traveling and a wonderful meal, you have one of the most restful sleeps you have ever had. The next morning you enjoy the well-appointed, complimentary breakfast. After breakfast, you both climb up into the tiny whale watching tower on the property where you take turns looking through the binoculars while managing to share the little stool. The odds of your seeing a few whales are good. This place is the Aldeia da Fonte Hotel and it is the very definition of “getting away from it all.” After all this, despite the beautiful respite that the Aldeia da Fonte Hotel is, you set out to see some more of the island in your car.
You wind your way up past green pastures cut into a quilt-work of greens with walls of igneous rock. You begin to notice that some newer walls are merely rock and seem black as night against the dark green while the older walls are covered in greenery. You look closely and see tiny flowers growing amongst the moss. The wall, put down perhaps 500 years ago by an industrious cattle rancher, now has become one with the landscape. You wind up country roads and into the mountains. No one lives up here. It’s all cows, pasture and inspiring vistas. You pass through a bank of low, racing clouds that make you feel as if you have driven into a heaven made for just the two of you. You wind your way through the landscape on roads lined with hydrangeas of pure whites, soft blues and royal purples that rise chest high and twice as thick. The quick clouds run away as quickly as they came and the sun above radiates warmth. You find a parking place and take the adjacent path. You hold hands to find a place seemingly made just for the two of you, and it is not far off.
You help one another unfold a picnic blanket. As you settle down upon it, the grass is so thick beneath you that it’s like sitting on an immense pillow. Your eyes wander to the dramatic, brilliant green mountains, past the pastures, to the blue, blue water below. The ocean seems to rise into the sky in the distance. Above, Mount Pico watches over it all, its head wreathed in clouds. You slice the cheese thin and eat it on the bread of wheat and corn flour. Dry and fine sips of the Pico white dance across your tongues. Together, you lay back and watch the clouds tumble quickly above in the powerful Atlantic winds. The sun is warm and bright. The air is fresh and scented only with grass and flowers. You enjoy some hiking. Physicality feels good here. Your bodies love the clean air.
A day of hiking, no matter how beautiful, will still place its toils on the body. You remember that you both wisely booked massages at the Pocinho Bay. This hotel is on the flat coast, close to the UNESCO protected coastal vineyard. It’s a beautiful property; the epitome of the boutique hotel. The masseurs roll their tables out by the pool where you can easily see the close shore of lava rock where the Atlantic pounds into it, slamming waves high in sprays of white. Tensions and upsets of your every day life at home seep away from you both. As those things slowly disperse under the Azorean sunshine and the skilled fingers of the masseurs, you both realize that, in this beautiful place, there is nothing between you. The island of Pico is a haven for relaxation, for purity and for love.