This day four of us (Mark, Kent and Sue, with Marcelo driving) visited the small town of Curral (Corral) das Freiras with a population of only about 2,000 residents. This small town is located in a deep valley surrounded by steep mountain slopes in the interior of the island and was originally only accessed by semi-nomadic shepherds and slaves who gained their emancipation or escaped servitude. They built small homes and a small hamlet developed towards the end of the 15thcentury. Today the steep hillsides encircling the town are used for the cultivation of cherries and grapes used in the production of Madeira wine.
We visited the charming small church and adjoining cemetery which is beautifully maintained and was blooming with hydrangeas. At a local souvenir shop we had a coffee and pastry along with a complementary sample of three liquors made in the area. The first was a cherry liquor, the second a eucalyptus liquor and the third a chestnut liquor. None of us really enjoyed the samples. After the coffee we took another short drive to the top of the mountain where we enjoyed the scenic overlook of the town. The weather at the top of the mountain was partly cloudy as the clouds swirled around the mountain tops. Not great for photos.
In the afternoon we visited the language school where some of the people in our group are studying Portuguese. One of the teachers presented the first of a two-part series on the history of Madeira.
After the lecture we returned to the local bar and café near our hotel for a happy hour. Kent and Christine Zimmerman, our group leaders, treated us to wine, beer, mojitos, burgers and chips before returning to our hotel for the evening.