I don’t actually have a bucket list. Not really. I figure that, once I spot the grim reaper out of the corner of my eye, swinging his scythe in my direction, I’ll want to spend my time with family and friends, and won’t actually give a hoot about whether or not I’ve seen Machu Pichu. (Which, by the way, if I did have a bucket list, wouldn’t be on it.)
But if I did have a bucket list of places to visit, and the willingness to cough up a ton of dough to get to someplace on the list, I might be tempted to put the Fogo Island Inn on it.
I’d never heard of Fogo Island, let alone the Inn, until I came across an article on it on Bloomberg.
Fogo Island is off Newfoundland, in itself a pretty remote outpost.
To get to Fogo Island, you need to fly into Gander International Airport, which got its start as a refueling stop for early transatlantic flights. (You may recall that a number of international flights were diverted there on 9/11, and the folks on the planes were stranded in the town of Gander for a few days. Fortunately, Canadians being Canadians, the travelers were well taken care of. You may not recall a more local story. When Kevin White was mayor, he was once on a flight that was weather-stopped at Gander. One of his aides, on hearing the location “Gander” – rendered, of course, in Boston-ese as Gahndah – asked what hizzoner was doing in Uganda.)
From Gander, there’s “an hour-long drive to the ferry, and a 45-minute commute across icy water to reach the island.” And once you get there, if you don’t mind crappy weather on the outside, life is good, as writer Sarah Hapola found:
When I get to my room, one of 29 suites tastefully decorated with locally built furniture, I’m immediately drawn to a floor-to-ceiling window that looks out onto the Atlantic. The ocean crashes on the rocks as I kick up my feet on a leather ottoman and dig into the welcome basket left for me: warm, handmade bread served with butter and molasses. I’ve never heard of the combination before, but as the slow, sweet syrup drips down my fingers, all I can wonder is what took me so long to try it. (Source: Bloomberg)
The Fogo Island Inn is the baby of ZIta Cobb, who grew up on Fogo, went to the mainland to make her fortune (and succeeded), and returned to set up an enterprise (the Inn is owned by Cobb’s foundation, which plows profits back into the community). It’s both a dream for her, and a source of employment for her home town (which was mostly a poor, fished-out fishing village, lacking paved roads and electricity). When Cobb was a child:
…she used to help dig a grave before winter came. “You knew someone was going to die,” she says, and if the ground was frozen, the body would have no place to go. “As a kid, you would think: That could be anybody. That could be me.”
Kids deployed as gravediggers? I know that a lot of Irish immigrants came ashore in the Maritimes. This sounds right up the Irish alley, that’s for sure. The nuns I had in grammar school would have adored this practice. “Line up now, children. Today, we will be spending the morning digging graves at St. John’s Cemetery. Ashes to ashes, children. Dust to dust.”
Anyway, as for the Inn itself, the furniture is based on local designs, and uses local materials. The Inn’s menu is locavore.
In addition to running the Inn, Cobb’s foundation funds an artist-in-residence program, where “painters, filmmakers, writers, and others” (bloggers?) can apply for grants for stays of up to six months. (I’m in. Now I’ll just have to figure out how to position myself as an artist.)
If you don’t get a grant, you can pay your way. And the Fogo Island Inn don’t come cheap. It’s over $1,000 a night (meals included).
But, oh, Canada!
It does sound lovely. And beautiful. And wild.
Not to mention the food sounds pretty darned good, too.
Even a review on Trip Advisor that mentioned rubbing elbows with fellow-guest Gwyneth Paltrow didn’t put me off longing for a trip to Fogo.
“I intend to die broke,” she [Cobb, not Paltrow, who, I suspect, has no intention of dying] says. “I started with zero. I’ll go back to zero. What am I going to need it for?”
Hmmm. Cobb’s got a point. What am I waiting for? Time to start a bucket list with one item on it.