Running with the Bulls and a Night Out with Local Celebrities Maria and Luis Bettencourt
Sao Miguel, Terceira, and Graciosa (5/21 & 5/22)
On the 21st we met with professor Eduardo Marques and his colleagues at the Military Museum of Sao Miguel. While we were there, they taught us about what photo voice was and how it was used to understand photography. This work has to do with giving the lower class a voice. People are given throwaway film cameras and are able to take photos of their lives. We were able to do a workshop with Professor Marques that let us choose a photo to try to interpret from how we are viewing it. I thought this was interesting hearing other people’s interpretations of their photos because some of them were different from my own thoughts of the photos. After our lecture at the Military Museum, we were able to take photos of the guns, cannons, armor and other old military accessories that were there.
We then took a tour to Furnas. The first thing I saw was the cats that were sitting around the ground that was warm. They were so friendly and let us pet and take photos of them. We also saw that people use natural thermal heat to cook their foods under the dirt in pots. Then we ate lunch at the restaurant that serves the food that is cooked in the underground pots. There was a lot of food and it was actually really tasty.
Before we left Sao Miguel, we met with Paulo Teves, the president of Sao Miguel. We all felt so important sitting at the long table with the red tablecloth talking about the government and tourism. He even asked us if there is anything that we thought could be changed or improved upon. We really couldn’t think of anything. It was all so perfect. At the end of our meeting Mr. Teves gave us a nice book and a DVD to take home to show our families and get more information about the Azores.
After our meeting was over, we then had a flight to Terceira where we had lunch in Praia de Victoria with Anna and her two children. We also met Anna’s father who was the original owner of the restaurant we ate at. At lunch we got to try different types of foods. I thought that one dish was chicken but in reality it was cow tongue. I was not a fan but at least I can say that I had cow tongue in the Azores. After lunch, we caught another flight to go to Graciosa.
Graciosa (5/23 & 5/24)
The start of our day in Graciosa was to photograph or participate in the religious procession. In this procession, at least one person from each family in Graciosa is supposed to participate. Some even walk barefoot all the way up the mountain to the church to have mass. After the procession we went to the Graciosa Museum, which was open just for us to check out. We were able to see old tools that people used to the fashion and music of Graciosa. We also left our mark by writing in the museums book of visitors.
We also saw a “whale” that turned out just to be a rock that looked like a whale. The tour guides thought it was hilarious that they tricked us into thinking we were going to see a real whale. We were able to see the lighthouse that was next to the rock. At the lighthouse we were able to meet the dog that was there and he was very friendly along with his owners who were laughing at us because we loved the dog so much. We then walked down to the ocean cove and took some photos there. It was scary stepping close to the edge (not too close) but it was an amazing view and so peaceful to be around.
Throughout the day, we went to a couple of different farms. One was a working farm where a farmer and his wife were milking their cows. We were able to see this process and we were also given the opportunity to milk the cows, which were very interesting, and quite the funny experience. The farmers also let us try the milk from the cow. It was not like regular milk. It was warm and did not taste very good. We also went to a farm and the house of an amazing artist that had rare dwarf donkeys. I think that this was my favorite part of the trip. I had a crazy connection with these donkeys they were just so sweet and curious. They loved to be pet and paid attention to. I could have spent all day with them. I didn’t think I would like donkeys so much. We went over to the artist’s home where there were baby donkeys and also a bunch of cats. We listened to his stories about his other visitors and we played with the cats and also wrote short letters in his notebook where other visitors wrote in as well. I really enjoyed being able to leave my mark in these few places it made the experience even more special and memorable. At the end of the day before seeing other scenic views and going back to the hotel, we stopped by another small farm where there were bulls. The tour guy was talking to the farmer about the boys wanting to do the running of the bulls, so the farmer took the baby bull and let the boys run around with it. I was pulled into where the baby bull was and literally had to take the bull by the horns. It was fun to say the least and even funnier watching the boys run from the baby bull.
Terceira had to be the island that we were all waiting to go to. We all wanted to see the running of the bulls. While we were walking down the street looking for a place to stand to watch the men run from the bulls, a nice man invited us to sit on his porch to watch. He offered us something to drink as well. I felt like I was part of his family. In the US, if I wanted to watch a sporting event at someone’s home, they would ask for money. It was very different in Terceira and I am so glad that I was able to experience that type of hospitality and kindness of a complete stranger. After we found our spot to watch the bulls, some of the people in our group actually participated in the festivities so we watched them run away scared of the bulls. I thought that it was going to be a lot worse than it was. I thought that even though people are close to a bull it was not dangerous like I thought that is was going to be. At the end of the bull run, we got some food from a food cart. I got an interesting hot dog that was absolutely delicious. It had mayo, ketchup and potato sticks on it. Don’t knock it ‘til you try it! After we ate, another family invited us into their house for some drinks and conversation. They were also very nice and hospitable. There was also a man inside the house that was an artist and I was able to have a conversation with him about his amazing art techniques.
Ponta Delgada (5/26 to 5/29)
During our last few days in the Azores, we went back to Ponta Delgada. We explored more natural pools and other high points of the island that we didn’t already see in the first couple of days that we were there. We also were able to see the end parts of the festival and the dried flowers that were covering the streets still. We were also able to see the parade of old police cars, taxis, fire trucks and motorcycles. I especially loved the motorcycles because I grew up on motorcycles. My dad owned a Harley Davidson and I was so surprised and excited to see Harleys in the Azores. We also heard some woman singing in Portuguese, which was really beautiful to hear as well. When we heard that there was a sacrifice and offers of small domestic animals we originally thought that they were going to kill the animals. I didn’t want to watch that but it ended up being an auction of the animals instead. I was relieved. On our free day I was able to grab some souvenirs for my friends and family that I thought would be interesting and different to take home to them. The day before we left, we were able to go back to the University of Azores and get some insight from Andre Laranjinha about the photos we took throughout our trip. We also got to see a film that he made about making wine. I thought that it was nice to get feed back on our work but also be able to see his work as well. I do wish that we were able to have this visit in the beginning of our trip so we could have his advice before we left. We were also able to check out a ceramic manufacturing place where we saw women making pottery by hand. It was pretty fascinating seeing the different types of clay that is used in the making of the pottery created. The morning before we left, a couple of friends and I took a walk along the water and just sat, relaxed and took in the last bit of the Azores that we could. We reflected on our experience and what we took away from the trip.
I will forever remember this trip and all of the amazing people that were on it. I want to thank them all for the memories that will never be forgotten!
Sao Miguel (5/19 & 5/20)
Before leaving for the Azores, I had a really hard time leaving my family because it was my first time leaving the country without them. On the plane, I didn’t do very well because I got sick. It was not a very pleasant start to the trip to say the least. I really appreciate the group of people I was with because already they were so caring and made me feel better about my little “incident”. After the five-hour flight, we finally made it to Ponta Delgada where it was 6am. The time difference was a killer because they are four hours ahead of the US. We were all exhausted and just wanted to sleep. But instead of sleeping, we only had a short break to get a little bit of breakfast until we had to meet at the University of Azores for a lecture. The first lecture was about the culture of landscapes in the Azores and the historical gardens that can be seen throughout the Island. We had another short break and then began our second lecture. This lecture was about the Architecture of Ponta Delgada.
Day 9/10, Azores
Back with the same tour guides we had when we first got to Azores, we started off our tour at a ceramics factory. All of the pieces were hand made and I bought a few of them for my family members, knowing they would appreciate the craftsmanship. We then went to look at a breathtaking view of fire lake, and what was just as interesting as the lake, were the goats keeping their balance on the side of steep mountains. We visited the university shortly after and each of us presented a set of our pictures to be critiqued by one of their professors.
Following the critique, some of us met up with a couple of local girls who showed us around the island. They took us to a natural spring, a mini pool where you could soak your feet in hot water, then to a black sand beach. We had a great conversation with them and still stay in touch.
The day after, we took off from Ponta Delgada around 12pm and landed back in Boston around 5:30pm. The trip was over, but the memories will last forever.
Day 7/8, Azores
Following our eventful night, things quieted down the next couple of days day but not without some Excitement involved. As we were walking on the tour, a little dog with an attitude ran up on us but we stood our ground. After the incident, we all met up at a natural pool in the ocean. The water was over 20 feet deep so there were no problems for us jumping in. We hung out for a few then drove through the main part of the city and grabbed some lunch and gelato. After Our Meal, we took a flight back to Ponta Delgada and walked around the different parts of town we hadn’t seen yet.
The next day was low key, I did some homework and reflected on all my experiences during this trip. I knew there wasn’t much time left and I thought about how I would make the most out of the next two days.