Shortly after arriving to Funchal and discovering the new city, I started to count days to my first hiking adventure on Madeira. I was getting impatient to finally pack my backpack, go out of the urban area and explore the mountains and levadas the island has to offer.
After three weeks the time had come. The weather was impeccable and Saturday afternoon saw me and Beata standing by the road ER103 in Monte, thumbing our way to the northern shore of Madeira. The plan was to get to Porto da Cruz and then walk along Vereda do Larano to Machico, but as it often happens when one is hitchhiking, we had a chance to slightly change the itinerary. The first couple to give us a ride was heading to Pico do Areeiro, so we figured: “Why not join them?” and had a lovely stop on one of Madeira’s highest peaks.
Luck was on our side all day long, so the second ride we got was a direct one from Pico do Areeiro to Porto da Cruz – and that’s even though the driver wasn’t actually going there! He simply decided to help us out a bit. From Porto da Cruz we walked down the magnificent Vereda do Larano and after 12 kilometres we reached Machico, where we got another ride, this time to Caniçal.
At the time we were dropped in Caniçal it was already quite late, so after a well-deserved dinner we started to look for a place to set up our tent. We wanted it to be as close to Vereda da Ponta de São Lourenço as possible, since the next day our fellow volunteers were taking a morning bus from Funchal to there, and we wanted to join our forces for the hike. So, what did we find? Prainha! A small beach, one of the very few sandy ones on the island, barely two kilometres away from the beginning of the trail! We couldn’t imagine a better place to finish that Saturday trip.
To sum it all up: during just one day we saw beautiful cloudy panoramas of Pico do Areeiro, breath-taking views of northern coast cliffs and sandy beaches of the east. Having seen so much in such a short time, I can already tell I will definitely not get bored during my stay on Madeira. I’m counting days to another adventure!
Maciej Śpiewakowski. Polish volunteer at AAUMa, passionate about journalism, photography, music and travels.
Erasmus+ is a programme of the European Commission embracing the fields of education, training, youth and sports during the period 2014-2020. One of the major aspects is the cooperation between the different fields where the programme acts, hence contributing for a diverse and rich Europe.
Amongst the several goals of the programme, the following are prioritised: the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy, including the headline education target; the aims of the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training (ET 2020), including the corresponding benchmarks; the sustainable development of Partner Countries in the field of higher education; the overall goals of the renewed framework for European cooperation in the youth field (2010-2018); the objective of developing the European dimension in sport, in particular grassroots sport, in line with the EU work plan for sport and the promotion of European values in accordance with Article 2 of the Treaty on the European Union.
In order to achieve these goals, the Erasmus+ has several action policies. The Key Action 1 (KA1) is directed towards the mobility of people; Key Action 2 (KA2) for the cooperation for innovation and the interchange of good experiences; and Key Action 3, which is for the support of reformation policies.
Since 1991 the University of Madeira Students’ Union has developed a wide incentive policy for voluntary work. In 2013 the Students’ Union started the process to receive, send and coordinate Erasmus+ projects of the European Voluntary Service, in order to have a larger influence in the volunteering field. The Union received its first volunteer withing the ambit of a KA1 project in 2014. Many efforts have been done to allow young people from Madeira to take part in several initiatives in Europe, as well as propose several projects allowing young people from several countries to work in the projects of the Students’ Union of the University of Madeira. The main goal of the voluntary work is the contribution of the volunteers to the communities and places they will be staying, being their work not rewarded with payment.
We believe that the European Voluntary Service is a mechanism full of experiences, allowing the approved candidates to have the privilege of taking part in these projects and benefit the places and communities where these volunteers will be staying.
Since 2013, the University of Madeira Students’ Union has received volunteers that have collaborated in several activities and initiatives. Besides being able to enjoy a wonderful experience which will contribute to their personal and professional growth, they are able to contribute in a unique way to the community in which they are inserted and to join dozens of volunteers from the University of Madeira.