This morning I headed out on a levada walk to the Socorridos valley, west of Funchal. It starts out going through banana plantations and small vineyards - all very pretty.
So I bounce along picking bougainvillea flowers and letting them float along in the levada. After an hour or so the land on the left hand side gradually slips away and the levada follows the line of the hill. It's carved into the rock, so you have to go through small dark tunnels at times.
And at the end of one of the dark tunnels the gammier of my two ankles gave way and I slipped.
I skinned hands and knees and my water bottle went over the edge but I was okay. Having rested for a bit, I saunter on to the end of the trail and then turn around to back-track.
That's when I get a fully-fledged attack of vertigo.
By this point I'm on a path about 20 inches wide, there's a sheer drop to my right of about 60m, and no railings. I stopped dead. As it turns out, this is a mistake, as you lose all natural momentum, and spend some time taking two-inch steps while clinging to the rock. I couldn't understand how I had trippy-dippy strolled out there without a care in the world. If I could have crawled along the levada on my hands and feet I would have, but there wasn't enough room.
So, I focused on the levada instead of the sheer drop, and very gradually tried to build up a walking rhythm again. The panic subsided and then disappeared, and I was okay to make my way back.
Got to Funchal, bought a deckchair and a six-pack. And during the late afternoon, a sense of order was restored :)