By Inge Perreault e-mail Inge at email@example.com
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Carnaval in the Azores -
||Carnaval in the Azores - Personal reflections on living
in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean
CARNAVAL season just prior to the beginning of lent in this Catholic country was upon us last week and to this woman who grew-up in the capitol of Karneval of K? ln in Germany there was no comparison. This is nothing like the Cologne Rosenmontag, Weiberfastnacht or Shrove Tuesday actually I found it to be rather anticlimactic. However, you have to consider my heritage.
Unlike the festivities in Rio de Janeiro, New Orleans or in the Rhineland, this is MILD.
Yes, there was a parade in Ponta Delgada but instead of candy they mostly throw balloons filled with water into the crowd. Children dressed-up in costumes for school and in the local town busy chucking balloons filled with water at targets of their choice. There were costume contests but mostly the activities were limited to Tuesday, the day prior to Ash Wednesday and the beginning of lent.
This being the 21st century and mischief taking on different forms all over the world, some of the balloons were filled with ice tossed onto tile roofs and at cars so most of the day I stayed home because I dont need any more dents (purchased a used car with a dent in order to blend) plus since the streets are so narrow a concussion is the last thing I need. While I am sure the native Azoreans enjoyed themselves immensely and
|the wine was flowing freely, leaving many with a hangover
today as well as empty streets and highways, I decided to skip the event and rather enjoy
the sunny day in quiet and reflection while watching the ocean and the enormous
waves. The forces of nature beat a Carnival celebration any time. Having seen many oceans
during my life including the Atlantic on the East Coast, the North Sea, the Mediterranean,
the Caribbean and the Pacific Ocean in southern as well as northern California, I must say
that this is no doubt the most impressive and beautiful ocean scenery I have ever come
All the oceans I have seen display their special beauty in different ways but NEVER have I felt the way I do for the Atlantic surrounding the Azores.
From the first moment I laid eyes on it (and that was on the Internet no less) I was hooked by my favourite combination of steep volcanic mountains and cliffs with waves crashing the way I had never seen or experienced. Here not a day goes by that I do not marvel at the breathtakingly beautiful ever-changing ocean awaiting me.
Remember, being so far out into the Atlantic the air is literally washed clean by the water surrounding all nine islands of this archipelago. Each day upon awakening I open the inside shutters of this old farmhouse and look out of the bedroom window to watch the turbulent waters hit the cliffs of Caloura.
After a stormy or windy night it is exceptionally beautiful and both, my husband and I head for the various points to record with his camera what is almost impossible to describe.
||Certain areas such as Caloura, Moisteros, Ribeira Grande and Rabo de Peixe
are more prone to serious wave-action.
For the first time in my life I watch waves coming in with the rising tide while the crests are being blown the other way. Coming ashore eventually with a force that shakes the ground we stand on and, once they have reached their destiny, turning a brilliant blue, they leave behind a white pattern a most talented painter would have trouble replicating.
Yes, there are magnificent beaches of black sand to swim at (the Gulf Stream passes by here) and leaves the ocean temperature a comfortable 18 degrees Celsius and much higher in the summer and fall, hence the moderate climate.
|Mostly northern Europeans or Russian tourists can be observed
year-round, as they are used to cooler water temperatures for bathing. Usually in the
afternoon the same beaches are better suited for surfing, which is done regularly.
We never tire of watching and marvelling at an ocean this alive and powerful. The other day I observed a very large fish enjoying himself riding the waves a sight that is burnt into my mind because I had never seen this before.
Unfortunately this being the 21st century the age of PLASTIC, the ocean waves sometimes bring ashore flotsam and jetsam, a sign of careless fishermen, boaters or large transport vessels that most likely clean their bilges when nobody is watching. The curse of plastic has become a worldwide phenomenon and I bet this applies to every ocean in the world today.
||However, sometimes you come across a treasure such as an old metal
ball-shaped buoy which we have and which will grace our terrace during the summer soon to
While the Azorean government spends a lot of money on cleaning crews who do a wonderful job, we as well pitch-in taking bags and gloves to pick-up unsightly trash and dispose of it properly. After all, nothing is perfect but this is as close as it gets.
Wonder what tourist season will bring .. I personally do not consider temperatures in the 60s a hardship when I read what it is in New England and other places of the USA.
Tumbleweed Journal Copyright 2006 Inge Perreault