Friday, 25 July 2014

Fogo Part 2: Walking Around

2013_NL_F14_0486The second post in my Fogo Island series is about walking around the townsite of Fogo. The visual themes are much the same as I see in any outport community: the quickly decaying past caused by a collapsed fishery, the possible revival of that same industry, a fledgling tourist industry that is not quite there yet, and magnificent vistas.

From Landwash Lodgings in Joe Batt's Arm, it was over to Fogo itself and a stay at Peg's B&B. Peg's met all the criteria for a good stay: a clean room, a comfortable bed, and a decent breakfast.


Fogo, like most Newfoundland communities, has tight, historic ties to the ocean, which are reflected in their town sign.


The Fogo townsite is not very large, so walking around it only takes an hour or so. The small size made me wondered if it was really a town and not a village, or even a hamlet. So as I walked I kept an eye out for ethnic food restaurants, which I define as serving food not commonly had locally, but common to a place at least 1,000 km away. Sure enough I found one. So this made Fogo at least a town according the the Campbell-Quraishi postulate*.


While the area of a town is small, walking around can be time consuming because you have to chit-chat with the locals. For example, while out shooting the church at sunset...


... some of the local kids came up to see what was going on, so I took their photo, too.


Speaking of church, I always thought that churches were meant to be inclusive, or at least I always thought of them as trying to "save the masses". So I do not understand the "No Loitering" signs on the church. There were not one, but two such signs, which might explain declining attendance.



Around the community you can see quite a few of the old-style homes. Following the norm from back then, they are all bunched together, as if huddling together for shelter from the incessant wind.


There are also modern-style bungalows with larger yards surrounding them. This means that there is a lot more "personal" space between the newer houses. Personally, I think these modern houses lose a lot of the charm of small community living.


There are a couple of hikes to be done in Fogo. One is a hike up Brimstone Head, one of the Four Corners of the Earth.


This is a bit of a climb, but it is a short one, and along the way, you can always see your target, so you will never get lost.


To help the many tourists deal with the steep climb, the town has put in a nice set of stairs over the roughest bits.


Usually on a hike, you need to pay strict attention to posted warning signs. In this case, I think it is pretty safe to ignore this one. Actually, let's agree to ignore it because of the poor grammar. That's a sore point that I will touch on later.


When you get to the look-out platform at the top, the view is splendid.


From there, you can see all the comings and goings of the little fishing boats.


I didn't have the same reaction to Brimstone Head as Al Pittman, a famous Newfoundland poet. But then, I didn't hike up there drunk four sheets-to-the wind either!

Another one of the hikes is the Lion's Den Trail. It boasts some nice panoramas, where you can see fishing boats going back and forth to their various fishing spots.


Normally, fishing is done a lot further out than a few metres off-shore, so what this boat was doing I do not know.


The town put up trail signs to tell visitors about the history of communities along the trail that are now long gone.


Like many places in Newfoundland, there is in Fogo a "that's good enough" attitude about many things, including signs. The signs on the trails are full of mistakes and I pity the poor tourists whose first language is not English.

This sign is one example. It says that Eliza "lived her whole life" in "Argentia"! I guess the fact that she lived for 14 years in Eastern Tickle didn't count as part of her life. I also guess it is not too important that she lived in Argentina (the country) and not Argentia (which is what is written on the sign and is a place in Newfoundland).


This sign was not the exception. There were plenty of other signs I could have used as examples. One commonly recurring mistake is using it's instead of its. Unfortunately, issues were not restricted to spelling or grammar. There were a number of signs with maps that had significant errors, which could have the disastrous result of hikers getting lost.

Maybe the signs were done by high school students on a government grant. Nothing seems to get done in Newfoundland these days without a government handout of some sort and my experience is that quality always suffers when politics is involved.

I hope that at some point a new attitude spreads around the province. An attitude that focuses on doing things well and on not relying on political slush-funds to pay for things. I am certain that tourists would greatly benefit, but I do not thing this will happen any time soon. Tourists are just going to have to rely on the Government of Canada sites, such as this Marconi Wireless Relay site, where the information is just as interesting, and has the added bonus of being correct.


As with all of my blog posts, if you want to see any photo in more detail, just click on it and you will be magically transported to my Flickr site and the image will automatically load for you.

Here are the links to all the posts in the Fogo Island series:

Fogo Part 1: Getting There
Fogo Part 2: Walking Around
Fogo Part 3: The Fishery
Fogo Part 4: The Fogo Island Inn

Here is a list of links to all of the blog posts from my 2013 tour around Newfoundland:

Cuckolds Cove to Carbonear
Signal Hill
Boat Tour!
Bird Watching!
Whale Watching!
Twillingate Part 1: Getting There
Twillingate Part 2: Wine, Music, and Whine
Twillingate Part 3: An Iceberg and a Lighthouse
Twillingate Part 4: Down to the Sea in Boats

* The Campbell-Quraishi postulate was formulated after several drinks in a Dungarvan pub in Ireland as Fawad was celebrating his 50th birthday. It is more than possible that I mis-remember the details of our postulate, but it goes something like this: a hamlet is any settlement that does not have a restaurant or take-out. A village will have at least 1 restaurant (or take-out), but will not have any ethnic restaurants. However, any self-respecting town has to have at least 1 ethnic food place and a city has have to have 2 or more. We did not undertake to define ethnic restaurant, believing instead that it should be interpreted by the fieldworkers on the ground, in the settlement under scrutiny. So it was my belief that Mr Tung was not serving indigenous Newfoundland food, this ranking Fogo as a legitimate town. This was my first chance to field test our postulate and I believe we are now ready take this to the UN for official sanctioning. Or better yet, we should take it to Google. After all, that is where the real power lies.

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