My day trip to Furnas was foggier and wetter than expected but that didn’t stop my friend and I from enjoying its charms. Having abandoned our original idea of walking around the lake, we found other things to appreciate.
As we entered the lakeside car park, we could see steam rising from the mossy rocks around us. Clouds of stinky vapor lay ahead at the sulfur pools. Bubbles of hot air plopped and splatted from deep underground.
Furnas locals have been taking advantage of this heat for many years. Each community, and several restaurants, have a designated spot where they have carved out a chamber for cooking in the ground.
We watched a couple of men remove the mound of earth that was covering the cooking pit. and flip off the lid. They then used long poles to hook the handles of the cooking pot and bring it to the surface. Inside was the cozido, a traditional meat and vegetable casserole/stew, destined for a local restaurant. There is also a food truck by the side of the lake where you can buy a small serving for about €3.
As well as providing natural cooking facilities, the heated water makes outdoor bathing in Furnas an option whatever the weather. Since it was still raining, that was good news for us. We headed for the beautiful Poças Dona Beija complex. As with most places in this part of São Miguel Island, bright flowers and lush tropical vegetation surround this series of caramel colored thermal pools.
Sitting in warm water with cool rain landing gently on my face, I couldn’t have been much happier.