Who lives on a volcano? I do!

The Azores are a group of 9 islands in the mid-Atlantic. Like so many islands, these were formed from shifts in tectonic plates that led to volcano formation. The first occurred over a million years ago, but there have been volcanic eruptions recently too on some of the islands. The island we live on is actually formed from 4 volcanoes. This island has limited beach area and are mostly rocky cliffs surrounding the edges, with steep drops into the ocean.

A few weekends ago we decided to go cave exploring. There are an abundance of caves, only some of which can be explored by tourists/locals. The group called Os Montainheiros is the conservation group that maintains these sites. We do not live very far from here although nothing is really far when you live on an island 29 x 17.5 km.
Our first stop was at Furnas do Enxofre. This basically lets you know you are close to a volcano. Ok, seriously, this is an area where sulfur gas rises from the earth and is near by a dormant volcano. This is a large pit or fumaroles that have steam rising from it. Personally, I think it shows that there is still some activity down below, although they say the volcano is dormant.
Here is one hole we found and decided to take a peak inside. There is certainly a lot of life here for something that once was covered in lava. That is the beuaty of nature. Sometimes you need devastation in order for new life to be created, hence we have ecological succession. If you look closely you can see the steam rising up.

Next stop: Algar do Carvao. This is one of the most unique places on earth. As we were told once inside this cave, it was formed from a volacanic eruption. The first time it erupted the lava was not expelled, so it went back to the core and cooled. The second time it did erupt past the surface. I am not totally sure of the whole process but the way this occurred was somehow different from the normal process. This resulted in what is, according to the tour guide, the only hollow volcano on the planet. This means what we are now calling a cave is actually the inside of a volcano. And, since we have been told it is dormant, there must be no harm in climbing inside.
Here I am heading downstairs and into the cave. At this point it starts to get cold, REALLY cold!
Here you can see the stairs that have been built inside for ease of climbing. This is near the top and you can really see the green vegetation.
This is one of my favorite shots. I am halfway down into the volcano and looking up through the top hole of the volcano. This is what it looks like to look out of a volcano.
Here we are down at the bottom. No more green down here. They do have stalagmites and stalactites where are apparently rare for around here. Since it was still summer when these were taken, the bottom was not wet like it is in the winter. in fact, it actually creates a large lake at the bottom during the rainy season and it dries up during the summer months.
Further up is this cathedral area. This is the name they have given it for both how it looks and the acoustic nature of this part.
So, that was our adventure exploring the geological and historical start of where we now live. There are many more places for us to check out even though the island is small. I bought a travel guide before we got here and I realized I haven't even looked at it yet. The island is so small we just egt in the car and drive and see what we come across.

Ok, now on to the yummies. This may sound funny, but Ryan and I bought this brownie mix when we were at Sam's club back in Vegas. We never made them before we left, so when the movers were packing our things, I simply could not let this go to waste. So I packed it. I had no idea what kinds of foods would be available here and Ghiradelli brownies sounded too good to pass up. So we made these Monday so we had a sweet treat when we were watching movies.
Usually I will use Enova oil (if you do not know what this is, let me know. I plan to show this in another post), but I decided to follow the recipe on the box and not make substitutions. The only vegetable oil I had in the house was the store brand from the market here in Portugal. just though you might like to see what the Portugese product looks like.
This is already starting to look really tasty.
YUM! And I felt so silly. I kept mixing and mixing and I was thinking "Boy, these lumps just won't go away". It took a moment, but we finally realized this was the mix that has the chocolate chips in it.
So after that we figured we might as well just pour it in the pan.
And boy did it smell so good. I am glad I decided to bring this mix with us. Since it was from Sam's club, we still have 3 more packets of mix left. I think we'll save them for a special treat, probably to enjoy during the cold winter.

QUESTION: What's your favorite ooey gooey dessert?


Gina; The Candid RD said...

Brownies are a favorite of mine, but I also LOVE no bake cookies! They are my new favorite ooey gooey dessert. I have also been making brownies with peanut butter in them, which is also delicious! Do you see the trend? Chocolate AND peanut butter is what wins my heart.

kristen :) said...

Wow, what a great adventure! I didn't know there were that many volcanos, and some have erupted recently? wow, very very neat. mmm brownies :) I like them with a bit of vanilla frozen yogurt! As far as ooey gooey desserts I like anything with peanut butter and chocolate.
I think I've been to that market a long, long time ago for a school project, but thank you for reminding me. I'll have to go there to get some real mochi. Chris and I made it one time too, and it wasn't too bad. Steamed bread sounds heavenly! Yes, vegas drivers are teh worst and don't know that people actually bike in the roads too haha

Anonymous said...

How amazing to live in such a cool place!

Love the brownies!

Nicci said...

Volcano sounds scary, but those are some beautiful pictures!oh, I love the brownies, as my gooey dessert!!

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