As anyone who has walked down a city sidewalk, past the beady eyes of pigeon scavengers can tell you: my greatest fear is a flock of birds flapping in my face. So this post's joy comes as much as a surprise to me as it will to you. Background: On the ferry to Fogo Island, we met a few locals, who mentioned that if the boat tour was going to Little Fogo Islands while we were there, we should definitely take it. Our hotel did offer it, and while we were not sure another boat tour after our Twillingate boat tour would be worth it, we spoke to others who had been and raved, so we decided to go out on the Ketanja to the Little Fogo Islands, mainly only visited in the summertime.
It was a bit of a blustery ride out, but we had met some wonderful friends to chat with, and the time just buzzed by like the salt air, lively and full of energy despite the grumpy skies.
The hotel had loaned us thick jackets that seemed overkill, but turned out to be wonderfully cozy, and expeditiony. So glad we accepted! We waved goodbye to the hotel,
and about an hour later, approached the huddle of islands to the north where we were headed: Little Fogo Islands.
We had been wooed by the history that was preserved on these arctic isles, and had heard there were puffins and sea birds. As we approached the islands, though, every single one of us was gaping.
The puffins were thick on the islands and took off in huge sheets, swarming the islands. The volume was nothing we could have predicted.
Even the boat's captain, who makes two visits a day to the islands, said he had never seen the magnitude, the great rushes off the cliffs.
There must have been around 50 small islands, so we navigated in and out, the layers of rock between ochres and greens with the summer moss.
The skies had cleared a bit into muted summer tones.
The puffins stood outside holes where they were nesting, a few ravaging gulls lurking nearby that I tsked from far away.
There were other birds, but the majority, by far were puffins. As they launched off the cliffs above us, their short, stubby wings flapping like a little wind-up toy, and their cutest covered for the fact that they are, in fact, birds. They were joyful.
The more secluded the boat got, the thicker the volume, the colonies swirling above us, and yes, we were covering our heads a bit for unexpected presents.
It was as magical as the photos look, spinning our heads with the rushes of black clouds it felt like the sky actually darkened.
Even looking at these photos now, my heart feels like it's lifting with the surprise we experienced.
In all our travels, I cannot think when I have been more amazed, or full of awe, at life teaming outside the human world. It felt sacred to be near these birds filling the skies with their being.
And then, we coasted into calmer waters, and found the hidden village we'd heard of: Little Fogo, no longer occupied.
Here, fewer birds, and the skeletons and well-preserved huddles of the town that thrived 60 years ago off this cod-saturated waters.
We disembarked the boat for a half hour on the island,
where one of our fellow guests found wild sorrel for us to try, and we peaked into unlocked buildings that some Fogo Islanders still camp in during the summertime.
Perhaps the most amazing part was the active St. Anne's church, built in 1867, which still has one service a year; the wooden buidling was in impeccable shape, clearly loved and cared for.
The view from the church perhaps the best I have ever seen.
While the colorful structures made the island feel like a fairy sea world, we heard how hard and secluded life was here, whole generations sustained miles from anywhere,
and life was certainly not easy with no outside communication or electricity.
The winds whipped around us with the puffins and yet these wooden structures held firm, some over a hundred years old with little maintenance.
We had met such lovely friends on the ride, that the time going back, this time a little bit warmer, actually, sped.
Since it was a day where free fishing (or whatever the technical term) was allowed, our captain threw out some lines,
And our new friend Tracey had luck with the cod!
The pastel skies coming back almost felt like it was earlier in the day, like we had entered a mysterious time lapse.
We came back to the larger Fogo invigorated.
By the wild and the little puffin wings and the winds. And mainly, by new friendships started over the sound of the boat's motor.