Maybe it’s the fog today, or my longing ache to travel, but I can’t get Fogo Island out of my thoughts. I discovered Fogo quite by chance. When I was trip planning for the Maritimes, Newfoundland and Labrador, back in 2015 I stumbled upon a You Tube video of Fogo Island. I fell in love with the Island immediately. It rose to the top of our list for places to see on that trip. Why ? The solitude and beauty of the Island along with its remoteness. We figured most people wouldn’t normally seek out such a remote spot and fortunately we were right. I hesitate to write about Fogo, wanting to keep it all to myself, but it’s such a sweet spot I decided to share it with you. But shhh, don’t tell everyone !
When we headed towards the ferry to Fogo Island we were a little leery about the rates. We had no idea what to expect and we were out of WiFi range and couldn’t check . Imagine our surprise when we discovered a round trip for our Roadtrek Adventurous was under $20.00 US. The rates have gone up a bit since 2015 but they are still very reasonable. You can check the rates from Farewell to Fogo Island here.
Farewell-Fogo Island Ferry Crossing, perfect day !
As we entered the town of Fogo our first goal was to find a payphone so we could extend our ferry departure date from Newfoundland. Still no WiFi and definitely no phone service. We found the local grocery store in town and Jim went inside to find out where the closest payphone was located. The clerk told him that she didn’t know of any payphone on the Island. Jim felt a tap on his shoulder and when he turned around , a sweet gentleman said follow me, I’ll take you to a phone. We followed him, as it turned out, we followed him directly to his home. He invited us in, pointed out the phone and invited me to make the call-I could have been calling France, he never questioned it.
Then while I was changing our reservations, he walked out of the kitchen with a plate of freshly made muffins that his wife had baked just before we arrived. We were both blown away, he made us feel so at home;and to open his home to perfect strangers, well we immediately opened our hearts to Fergus. We exchanged stories about our homes and he gave us directions to the campground we had been looking for. Turns out he was an active Lion’s Club member and had worked on establishing the Brimstone Head RV Campground
We had many fun times and adventures while on Fogo Island, but the most fun (she says with sarcasm) was when I sliced off the entire outside of my right hand pinky finger. I was using a mandolin to slice vegetables for dinner and the protective holder slid out of my hand. I was alone inside the van, so I quickly grabbed some paper towels to stop the large amount of bleeding that was going on. Once I got the towel wrapped around it, I calmly called out to Jim that I needed his help. When he saw the amount of finger that was missing I thought he was going to have a heart attack ! I was holding my hand above my heart while applying pressure to stop the bleeding. Jim went in search of a nurse in the campground. Our next door neighbor came in and took one look at the cut and ordered me to the emergency room. (I later found out she was a doctor, not a nurse; didn’t tell me that because she didn’t want to alarm me even more; and didn’t have needed materials to treat me herself) . I arrived at the emergency room and they immediately cleaned out the wound and bandaged it with a large amount of gauze that you see in the picture. They scheduled me to return the next day to see a wound specialist. Remember, we are in Canada, and I have Medicare. The cash register in my mind was filling up with $$$$, knowing that we would be paying cash for services provided. I returned the next morning, and met with the wound specialist. She changed the dressing after applying a layer of silver to the wound to speed up the healing and fight infection. I returned 2 days later and she showed me how to change the dressing myself. As I was leaving she gathered up a 4″ deep by 8″ long basket with the supplies I would need for the next two weeks. Jim and I went to the cashier to pay the bill, guessing it was probably going to be about $2000 based on 3 visits and all the supplies. Well you have got to love Canadian Health Care, my total bill was $177.00 Canadian, that was about $135.00 US. Let that sink in for a minute-3 visits-all treatment visits; and a 2 week supply of bandages, medication,gauze,antibiotics and surgical scissors. The scissors alone in the US would have been $135.00. The funniest thing was, after my first visit to the ER everyone in Fogo knew my story. Perfect strangers on the street would wave and ask my how my finger was ! Love love love Fogo Island and its people.
We had numerous contacts with Fergus after that initial meeting. He would stop by our campground on a daily basis to check in on us and make sure everything was okay. Sometimes he brought us sweet treats, again baked by his wife. We found ourselves looking forward to those visits. On one of the visits, we asked him where we might find a Fogo Island Come Home Year license plate-he wasn’t sure, but he thought they weren’t available any longer. We couldn’t believe what happened next. On our last day at the campground we hiked the Brimstone Head Trail. As we were descending, I spotted Fergus’s car in our campsite. We figured he had come to say goodbye. And he did, but he also came bearing gifts. He gave us his own personal Fogo Island license plate. We didn’t want to take it but he was so very insistent. We both were blown away by his generosity. We still talk about Fergus and his warmth and how sweet he was to us. I will forever hold him in my heart. Here’s the thing though, what we found on our trip to Newfoundland, was that Fergus was not the exception, he was the rule. How he treated us with such welcoming open arms is how all the Newfies we met treated us. Now whenever Jim and I feel out of sorts with someone, we ask each other what would a Newfie do ? Embrace everyone-sometimes it’s difficult but it’s a lesson and a character trait we both want to strengthen.
One of my new favorite places, Fogo Island-the Island and its people forever in my heart
If you are planning a visit to Fogo Island, you should know there is a folk festival held the 2nd full week end in August each year. The Brimstone Head Festival started unofficially in 1982 and then officially in 1984 and every year since. We didn’t make the festival but showed up on Monday , the day after the festival, and helped a little with some of the cleanup along the trails. We spoke to several campers who had attended, and while it’s not Coachella, it is definitely a place to meet locals, get a good feel for the Island, its music and its spirit !
The campground is wonderful, beautiful views of the Atlantic and there is WiFi service !
Brimstone Head hike to one of the four corners of the Flat Earth
There is lots of good hiking on Fogo Island. If you go to this PDF , provided by the Fogo Island Inn you will find trail information. Brimstone Head is believed to be, by the Flat Earth Society, one of the four corners of the flat earth. According to Wikipedia:
“Modern flat Earth societies are modern societies that are based on the belief that the Earth is flat. Modern flat Earth hypotheses originated with the English writer Samuel Rowbotham (1816–1884). “
Even though the Fogo Island Inn looks a little out of place towering over the village-the local folks love it. Everyone we spoke with talked about how grateful they were with the jobs and visitors the Inn was bringing to Fogo Island. We tried to get a dinner reservation-sold out months in advance; so we tried for lunch-also sold out. So if you plan on visiting Fogo Island and want to dine at the Inn , make reservations. Make sure you take the time to visit their web page and especially their Gallery, a stunning place.
We ended up staying one day longer than we had planned but didn’t have a campground reservation, so we went in search of a boon-docking spot. We found one at Sandy Cove Beach in Tilting-another sweet community on Fogo Island. Nice beach , quiet spot and beautiful sunset. The perfect place to spend our last night on Fogo Island.
Fogo Island was such a memorable adventure for us, we left the Island with the dream of returning someday-the same feeling we hold for all of Newfoundland ! Happy Trails and Safe Travels my friends.