The sun rises and the hike up to Capelinhos, a beautiful volcano located at the westernmost point of Europe, begins.
The rocky area draws a dark and shadowy silhouette on the western coast of Faial, one of the main islands shaping the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores.
Starting at the lighthouse, built in the late 19th century, the trail leads you through a grey and barren landscape, a metaphor for the feeling of devastation experienced by the local population in the 50’s when an underwater eruption in 1957 that lasted for 13 months buried hundreds of houses and land and over 1700 people were evacuated.
The burst enlarged Faial by 2.4 km², originating what today is one of the landmarks of the island.
Hundreds visit the underground Volcano Interpretation Centre every year placed under the lighthouse to learn about a place considered by many the youngest piece of land in Europe.
“From the distance, you would say there is nothing there other than rocks and dust, but the truth is that the place hides an important and precious secret.”
Time has now passed and eventually, the strength of the Atlantic Ocean combined with the hard weather conditions on the island have eroded a large part of Capelinhos’ original shape, and many worry it will disappear one day.
They are loud and fill the air with sharp and piercing noises, but their arrival to the barren landscape has accelerated the appearance of the first plants, which cling to the arid hills protecting part of the soil. That could some day bring stability to the ecosystem in a near future.
Somehow, when you are surrounded by the intense call of the birds while watching the sun go down behind the volcano and experiencing all its colours as the last sun beams touch the ground, you feel alive as well.