Pico, Azores: 10 to the negative 12th

pasta with meat, wafers with filling, macaroni and cheese, bacalau, bananas from the backyard.

my mom's 82 year old cousin Mariana presented a buffet of foods to us during our after lunch visit. we informed her we had just eaten and were full but in traditional Portuguese fashion, this was taken on as a challenge: 
what food can I offer not-hungry people that will be good enough to make them over-eat?
sweet waffle cookies and a bag of unopen chips came from the next room.
no takers.

bread and Portuguese cheese appeared.
alright, ya got me.

their cheese-crumbed mouths jabbered in Portuguese as I frantically used Mariana's WiFi to get details on our next excursion.
after hearing my whale watching tour this morning was postponed due to weather, I was determined to do at least one amazing thing today.
Gruta das Torres is a 3 mile long lava tube that formed on Pico island in the Azores up to 1500 years ago. I had - weeks earlier - booked us a tour for today at 16:00h. I was going to navigate us there via coordinates (because nothing has addresses here... and if it does, they cannot be trusted), we were going to wear ugly hard hats, wave around utility flashlights, and explore an amazing volcano butthole.
this was going to be.

after 20 minutes of "no, I do not want to take your 2 dozen bananas but obrigada" and "I'm so full - I don't want another cookie" and finally "OK, one banana, and 4 cookies", we were on the road.
there is only one main road on Pico. and it has no name. it is simply "the main road".
there are only 2 speed limits on Pico. 50 kph and 80 kph. or as my mom calls them "slow down" and "SLOW DOWN!"

after a few u-turns and swear words (on my part) we made it to Gruta das Torres right on time.

my proud march of an entrance matched my announcement "my name is on the list - I booked this previously via the interwebs".
"ah," man looks at *the book*. "Kathleen?"
"yes! that's me!"
"yea so, we have a problem"

my spoiled, California, only-child ass wanted to cry.
"a large rock in the ceiling of the cave fell yesterday" he says. 
"we are awaiting specialists to inspect it before allowing any new visitors" he says.
"it is for my safety" he says.

in my brain, I am throwing things; I am telling him I don't think I can ever afford to return here to do this; I am losing confidence in myself; I want to eat 2 dozen bananas and a box of cookies.
we are allowed to wander along the rim, squint in to the dark decaying abyss without seeing anything, and watch a video showing off all the badass shit I am missing out on.
my mom seems content with the change of plans, which adds to my frustration.

kicking rocks back to my rented transport, I mulled over how to get over this.
the velvet cows were startled by my stomping - they thought about moving... but were too lazy and instead, continued nibbling on grass tucked between volcanic rocks.
the air smells of ocean, which shines at me in sunny patches less than 2 miles away.
somewhere birds squawk with a foreign accent.

...nothing is wrong with this.

I had made this trip to be an agenda of adventures revolving around me, and me.
yet my happiest moment thus far was when Mariana, her daughter, and her son-in-law surprised us at a restaurant. they knew we were staying in Lajes and decided to - unbeknownst to us - drive around looking for us. as I Facebooked at an outdoor table with my mom pretending not to watch over my shoulder, the 3 of them walked up with secret smiles, asking if I was Kathleen.
once I realized I was not getting arrested, I cried.
this is why I am here - I just didn't know it at first.

in other news...
...the house we are staying in has hot water for just 10 seconds at a time, fuzzy mold growing on the walls, framed Jesus sketches everywhere, no electricity half of the nights, and the creakiest floors I have ever heard in a horror movie.
but I got my own bed so, all good.
...my Portuguese family thinks I am hysterical because I keep saying "Oh Jesus" in Portuguese (which is simply, "aah Jhejeush"). I'm not sure what that says about either party but, it says something.
...I miss my boyfriend, and my dog.
and you - I miss you too.

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