Getting into the groove of working and eating and sleeping in a time zone that is five hours ahead of EDT has been trial and error so far. There’s something so lovely and decadent about slowly sipping a coffee on one of our multiple balconies at 9:30 am. I mean it’s 4:30 in the morning in ‘work world’. There’s zero expectation that we should be at our laptops, being productive.

That’s how logical part of the brain sees it.

That logic is no match for the bolt of anxiety that strikes out of the blue – GASP – and takes on this scolding impish form – what are you doing!? Why aren’t you working? Your day is going to be totally hooped unless you get to work RIGHT NOW.

That part of my brain isn’t so good at on-the-fly time change calculations and just sees 9:30 and freaks out.

The rhythm that seems to be working best is to do about an hour of work when we first wake up and have our breakfast. Then have around three hours of leisure time. We officially start the work day at noon and finish somewhere between 7 and 8. We have lunch a few hours into the afternoon and dinner later in the evening.

Routine is nice because it keeps those bolts of anxiety at bay.

The weekends are for the bigger adventures and so far we have packed in some good ones.

Swimming with Dolphins

Well right off the bat that is a misleading title. It was definitely not one of those horrible set-ups where the dolphins live in a big tank in captivity. These are wild dolphins.

I actually booked this adventure while we were still in Lisbon. We were out with the crew from our Outsite the night before we left. There was a big enough crowd that Rob was at one end of the table and I was at the other so I didn’t get to hear this conversation in detail – just the secondhand account… Rob happened to mention, ‘Justine booked us on a morning swim with dolphins thing.’ The immediate response from the group was that we had to be really careful.

‘Why?’ Rob asked.

Because the dolphins might rape you.

‘What?!’ I imagine Rob saying, with an expression somewhere between alarm and skepticism.

Emphatic nods and agreement from the folks at that end of the table. ‘It’s a thing,’ they assured him.

We decided to go ahead and do it anyway. I asked Rob NOT to Google too deeply on the subject. First of all – it would only freak him out and secondly – can you imagine the kind of targeted ads and suggestions he would get after that?

Setting Out – Rob looking a bit leery

We set off with Christiana, our tour guide and marine biologist, who was hilarious and knowledgable (and didn’t make any mention of the raping tendencies of dolphins), in our speedy zodiac. There are strict rules around how many boats can be in the vicinity of pods of dolphins so we went out to sea a fair ways.

We weren’t given a lot of explanation around how the swimming part was going to work. We were just told to come with our bathing suits already on and for-warned that it wouldn’t be possible if there were lots of babies with the pod.

It didn’t take long before our boat was surrounded by leaping dolphins. Marco, the driver, cut the engine and Christiana was all business. She pointed at Rob and me and two other people – ‘you get ready,’ she told us (which I interpreted, correctly, as striping down to my bathing suit). She shoved well-used snorkels and masks into our hands.

Rob was not at all expecting to so abruptly be the first group in the water (with the potentially rapist dolphins). And he totally bailed. ‘Ummm,’ he said, ‘I’m going to wait a bit.’ Christiana didn’t miss a beat. She plucked his snorkel and mask from his hands and passed it onto the woman behind me.

‘Sit on the side of the boat, hold the rope, and try not to make a splash. Be prepared to GO when Marco gives the signal,’ she told us in her no-nonsense voice. It was all pretty exciting, let me tell you. And I wasn’t at all sure how I was going to lunge off the side of a zodiac without making a splash. (I made a big one as it turns out!)

Even though there wasn’t a lot of gratuitous explanation – isn’t wasn’t that hard to figure out. Once in the water, I held onto the rope with one hand, and skulled with the other. The mask and snorkel meant I could stick my face right in the water. Wow. Even before the dolphins came into view – it was magical. Everything was so incredibly blue and sparkling. And then I saw three dolphins swimming up from underneath me. They weren’t terribly close, I didn’t feel like I was intruding on their space at all, and I felt absolutely no danger from them. They were majestic and graceful and fascinating.

After a few minutes or so we climbed back into the boat and the next group, which included Rob, hopped in. I was particularly impressed with the way that Rob managed to slip into the water without making a splash. I think he was the only one that managed to follow that instruction.

After everyone had a chance to see the dolphins in the water we cruised around for another hour or so. When the boat picked up speed, the dolphins raced to keep up, while taking these incredible leaps through the air.

The shore from the perspective of being in the boat

Funchal Cable Car

Maybe if I just keep poking at it – my vertigo will give up and go away? I don’t know about that but I do know that Funchal and crazy heights go together.

We decided to take the cable car up to Monte. It was terrifying. But totally breath taking.

We decided to walk down.

Some images from around Funchal: