Tuesday, August 6, 2019
We got an early start to make sure we caught the 8:00 ferry to Fogo Island. Two pickups were tailing me closely, like they were late for work, so I pulled over and let them pass. Just around the corner was the lineup for the ferry. We were sure they would get on and we wouldn’t, but there was plenty of room on a Tuesday.
I didn’t get much sleep last night. My right leg has been bothering me for a while. I can do anything, like hiking, and it doesn’t bother me, but at night it has been getting more painful. Nothing seems to affect the pain – not Aleve, Advil, Butazoladine or aspirin. My differential diagnosis was either sciatica or Lyme Disease. Something bit me right before Martha came and my thigh turned bright red and burned. I didn’t see a bite mark or a tick, but figured something bit me while I was working on the trailer roof the day before. It took about a week to go away. There was no target look to it, so I guessed a spider bit me.
I was planning on sleeping on the ferry, but a man stood nest to our table, looking out the window, and we got to talking. Jim Tulk was his name, and he was a Newfie. He told stories of what it was like growing up. His family came originally from England in the 1800’s when there were no roads and they walked everywhere.
He had no real education, so the language evolved so it doesn’t sound like English any more. They drop the “H”, so Martha becomes Marta, and they have a lot of colloquial terms that make it hard for visitors to understand. Jim said they all had big families. “What else were you going to do in the winter?” He and his wife and daughter were going to Fogo to visit some of those relatives.
He used to work for the electric company for 35 years, and traveled all over Newfoundland, so he was telling us where to go and what to do. He told the story of having appendicitis when he was a young teenager. They had to drive somewhere and then pull their way on a river ferry before they could get to the hospital in Gander. I enjoyed listening to this nice man, and before I knew it, we were docking.
Stopping at the visitor’s center, it was 10 minutes before opening. I saw a girl riding a 4-wheeler drive up to the back of the building. Soon the lights came on and the door opened. We knew very little about the island, but the nice young lady circled places on the map, showed us where the hikes were, where the ice-cream place was and where the museums were.
We decided to go to the east end of the island and work our way back. Newfoundland is the end of the Appalachian mountain chain and some of the oldest mountains in the world. There are so many islands at this end of the country, I wondered how anyone could sail their way around this part and not get lost. These islands were just the tops of the mountain chain, sticking out of the water.
We drove to the east side of the island first and walked Joe Batt’s Point Trail, but not all the way. There was a lot to see and do in one day. We had a view of the Fogo Hotel, built by a successful person who wanted to provide jobs for their home. It’s a pretty expensive hotel, and they wouldn’t let us walk through it. In fact, you can’t even drive up to it. You park and take a shuttle. Maybe that translates to more jobs.
We came back to town and had a nice lunch at a restaurant I still don’t know the name of. Then we went to Fogo and went to the Visitor’s Center. This is the site of a Marconi radio station, which took the Titanic’s distress call. It was also important in both wars. I was surprised to learn that Newfoundland was independent until 1949.
Out back we took another trail leading to a beautiful overlook. Fogo is indeed a beautiful harbor and town. By then it was time to get back to the ferry. Two days would have been nice here.