Azores Journal Entry Number 10 by Inge Perreault e-mail Inge at firstname.lastname@example.org
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||Well, fall has arrived in the Acores and it is lovely. It
does not get light until almost 7 am and darkness at 8 pm has robbed us of our evening
walks. The days and nights are cooler ranging from the low 60s during the night to the mid
70s to high 70s during the day but we are still swimming, riding the waves in the warm
ocean and the air is clear as the finest crystal.
Slowly but surely the lower fields and grazing lands are turning greener again while the profusion of flowers has definitely picked-up. Before too long the milk-cows will be. brought down from the higher mountain meadows and the yearlings be
|impregnated by the fine bulls you see tied-up
alone here and there in a fieldThey are magnificent animals and will have their
work cut out for them.
Most tourists I talked to over the summer marveled at how green the Azores are and would not believe me that what they saw was hardly comparable to the GREEN off-season. But I have photos to prove that fact; some brown meadows due to lack of rain this year but green depending in which mini-climate you find yourself.
||Most summer veggies have been harvested and the
fields are already planted with potatoes and sweet potatoes. Likewise the tobacco harvest
has taken place and the rather large leaves are drying in the tobacco-drying sheds which
can be found in certain areas of Sao Miguel. Empty during most of the year, they are now
filled to capacity. I t has been a good year, much to the delight of native Azoreans as
most Portuguese still smoke like chimneys, although you are beginning to see
signs indicating that smoking is forbidden in certain areas. The lure of being
cool hooks the youngsters easily, especially since most of their parents are
The grapes have been picked for this years wine and also in this regard it has been a good year. Personally I had sort of looked forward to assist in the picking of the grapes here andthere but unlike in France, Germany, Italy and
|other wine-growing nations, the actual picking of the grapes is not a big event here. That will come once the barrels of wine are opened to taste the new vintage on November 11th, a feast day we were unaware of last year just having arrived here. Chestnuts are roasted and wine-tasting events will be on the agenda this year for sure.|
||While tourist season has not ended and will not until
mid-October, actually Scandinavians and Russians visit year-round, we never found the
island overrun or crowded. The knapsacks are just getting less and less as
time goes by. From now on the people who come are the TRUE connoisseurs and TRAVEL SAVVY
flight prices drop most significantly as well as hotel prices to half of what they
were during the summer months beginning with April and ending in September.
While I am sad to see the fig-season come to an end soon as there is hardly anything more delicious than a ripe fig, sliced and put into the freezer for ten minutes to be topped with ice- and whipped cream.
|Truly hard to beat! They are also delicious on cereal in the morning and in many ways life here concerning food reminds me often of my youth in Germany. Fruits and vegetables were eaten IN SEASON, flavorful and much appreciated. The constant offer of all types of fruits and vegetables in American super-markets may be pretty to look at in their perfection, but all too often I found their taste akin to cardboard, the beauty of the outside cannot be compared to the flavor of freshly picked produce in season. By the way, bananas ripen here year-round and our landlord freely shares his bounty with us refusing to accept a penny. That would be considered an insult. Sharing with friends and neighbors is just a way of life in this part of the world.|
|We have been swimming and riding the ocean waves becoming experts by now at avoiding being tossed and are able to enter the ocean as well as get out easily. There are so few people at the black-sand beach in Agua d'Alto it is difficult to believe when you consider that the rest of European beaches are packed with people like sardines in Spain, the Cote dAzure or all of Italy as well as Greece.|
But dont all rush here PLEASE! I have
received a lot of inquiries from people in the USA and all over the world as these entries
can be found on Azorean sites now. Apparently my entries are most informative as far as
the culture and traditions are concerned.So let me tell you that there is little nightlife
on Sao Miguel or any of the other islands. Yes, there are cultural events and many of them
but the Disco Crowd would be most disappointed while fans of classical music,
opera and cultural exhibits are delighted, as they are plentiful and if not free of
charge, most reasonably priced.
|Once at the lighthouse we admired the ingenuity
of some local folks who built weekend shelters on the steep slopes and were having
barbeques, took some photos and then began the climb back up.
Well, I must admit to not being as young as I used to be, hence I truly thought I was going to die during the slow ascent which was so strenuous that on the way home I did not feel well at all. I actually spent the next day resting in bed. Granted, I have COPD but being 60 likewise has a lot to do with it, in spite of my swimming 2 km at least 3 times a week.
Never in my life have weekends come as fast as they do in the Acores and it has become an in-joke between my husband and myself that every time we turn around it is FRIDAY yet again. Ever since we moved here time has simply flown by miraculously.
|So last Sunday we visited the Jardim Jose do Canto in the
very center of Ponta Delgada which is virtually deserted on Domingos it seems .This is a
botanical garden planted in 1840 containing specimen of fauna and flora from all over the
world with the most charming paths which would never make you realize that you are in the
center of the capitol of the Azores. The garden has been visited by dignitaries from all
over the world since its inception and is well kept but never crowded. I believe during
our stroll we encountered one Danish and one British couple admiring the extraordinary
design and beauty, but that was the extent of the company we had.
Domingo, Sunday, is a family day in the Azores for gatherings and shared meals as well as indulging in their great passion of watching soccer futebol on TV. Quite a lot of stores and also some of the restaurants are closed; the family forms the core of the celebration of Domingo.
Admiring trees in the Jardim Jose
|I received some e-mails from tourists who visited the
Acores and were not happy with the Portuguese food, the preparation of fish (remember the
eyes) and large amounts of meat as well as tons of French fries and/or cold rice. No, you
will not find a great variety of vegetables on your plate (they belong in a
sopa according to the Azorean custom, nor a salad-bar unless you stay at one
of those non-descript, typical modern hotels which can be found anywhere on this planet
and offer totally generic fare. If that is what you are looking for and find no
appreciation in the local culture, food and all the natural beauty these islands have to
offer, then this is NOT the place for you and you would be better off on a cruise ship or
in the Caribbean. However, experience has taught me that even there you would have to
leave some of your prejudices and deeply engrained habits behind; in addition you have to
deal with ever increasing problems of crime and drug-trafficking.
This is one of the few places left where, though great cultural changes are most likely imminent, the present must be savored for now and the adventurer in you allowed to roam freely - the suggestion is to keep an open mind and truly relish what you are experiencing. London, New York City, Paris, Berlin, Stockholm etc. will still be there on your return