July 4: Snorkeling on the Berlengas Islands & Drinks with Romi


On fourth of July, I went snorkeling on the Berlengas Islands.

It was gray and overcast but still mysterious and beautiful. It was strange to be away on a national holiday. While I understand the complications of our nation’s origin, I have to say Fourth of July is one of my favorite celebrations.

Yes, I am full of contradictions.

It’s not necessarily my favorite holiday because of what it represents but because it means that summer is truly here. It means cook outs and swimming pools. It means fireworks and sparklers. It means watermelons and ice cream. It means fireflies and star searching. It means time with family and friends without gift guilt. It means late nights and freedom.

It was the only day I felt a bit homesick.

However, the Berlengas Islands were beautiful. Snorkeling was fun although I didn’t see much except sea cucumbers and urchins hiding in their little rocks. There were a few fishies and a little seagull family with a new chick sitting on the rocks. At one point we swam too close to the cliff and momma gull dive bombed at our heads. 

Yikes! Sorry, we got too close to baby. 


Other than that and having to perform the wetsuit willie multiple times, it was still a wonderful day. The sun came out after lunch on the beach and we were able to have better visible during our second snorkel. 


Rita was an amazing snorkel guide and she didn't make fun of me too much for humming "just keep swimming" under the water.

Now that the sun was shining we had a better view of the islands and rock formations on our way back to the harbor. I could clearly see "Elephant Rock" as our speed boat jetted across the ocean. 

When I got home and showered, it turned out that Romi was in town!

We met at the surfers lodge for a drink…and honestly…it wasn’t good. The drink that is, not my time with Rome. 

Horrible club music was playing on the roof for a completely trashed crowd. (No Judgement...just not my scene.) It took us forever to order a drink…I paid 7 euros (the most money I paid for a single drink my entire time in Portugal) for a gin and tonic that was mainly ice.

Romi and I gave each other that “we’re never coming here again" look.

But then we found a small spot on the roof, away from the craziness, to catch up and talk.

She was finished volunteering at Salty Way on to exploring more of Portugal before she left for Ireland. I told her that I was finally starting to get the hang of surfing and my confidence was coming back. 

We chatted for a while and then I left to get some sleep.

I had planned on surfing in the morning and then leaving Baleal in the afternoon. 

Key word...planned.

As I walked to my car, I noticed a little path deep beyond the field. I started to follow it and it lead me out to a set of cliffs that over looked the sea.

I turned to stare at the moon behind me and then the ocean in front of me.

I just felt…grateful…and completely at peace.

Boa noite Lua.