We went to a religious celebration in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, it was a beautiful outdoor Catholic Mass, and although I didn’t understand what was being said, I felt the emotion and truly respected the deep faith that is instilled within the locals. Nearby, we met this lady named Marcia who was telling us about the whaling history in Graciosa. Although sad to hear, it was interesting to hear about whalers taking advantage of the ocean view on Graciosa’s mountains to spot whales in the distance. We then went to a The Museu Graciosa, visited an artist’s house which had several rare donkeys roaming in the backyard, and finally got to run with a baby bull after debating about doing the run of the bulls.
Following our stay in Graciosa, we took a flight back to Terceira on our sixth day. We went to the run of the bulls festival and it was amazing. We ran fast and took cover whenever need be. Thankfully, we all came back in one piece. After the event, we got invited to a party hosted but a dad and his daughter. Both of them were excellent musicians who sang songs not only at the party but also at a small venue later that night.
On the Third day we met up with the president at the town hall in Ponta Delgada and we had a good discussion about politics and tourism. He was very welcoming and what I thought was going to be a very serious meeting turned out to be a lighthearted conversation. At the end of our discussion he gifted all of us with shoulder bags that included in depth photo books covering the Architecture of Azores. Shortly after, we took a jump flight to Terceira to grab a delicious homemade lunch. The owner and staff showed us great hospitality and treated us like family. Although brief, this was truly memorable and I will always remember and appreciate their kindness.
After our meal, we took a flight to Graciosa and stayed for the next few days. The first thing I noticed about Graciosa was the change of pace and architecture. We all ate hearty meals, but noticed how the style of cooking was different from Terceira and Ponta Delgada. Full of good food, we had energy to tour the island for a few.
On the fourth day, we were up early and toured the town in Graciosa, the sun was beaming and the white paint on most of the houses seemed to reflect, making everything seem extremely bright. Later in the day, we went swimming in a bay followed by a dip in the hot springs, ate delicious fresh caught fish, and explored old landmarks.
On the final night, we were back in Ponta Delgada walking the streets to see the lights and festivities of the festival. It was a sad night for most of us because given the chance, we all would have stayed much longer. We wanted more time to explore the landscape and meet the people and learn more about the culture and history of the islands.
We visited Terceira for two days, and the first night we were able to experience the running of the bulls. Myself and a few other students were able to participate in the event, and while doing so we were able to speak with and get to know some of the people running with us. I met a man who used to live in Lowell, and he told me about how he has done the running of the bulls many times and even proudly showed me his shirt, which had a photo of him kissing the bull.
The first night on Graciosa was wonderful, we had time to relax before going off for the next day of stops, and we had time to reflect about the previous days and time to walk around the city. The sights at sunset were so beautiful, and the stars were incredible, something that is hard to see back home where I live.
On our second day we went to so many places and saw so many beautiful sights. We visited a historic church at the top of a mountain and we went to Furnas and went swimming in the hot springs. We were able to see how beautiful the landscape is on these islands, which was a sight I never thought I would be able to see myself. Everything is so green and open, something I rarely see back home.
This is my first time ever leaving the United States, so going into it I was worried, but once we started to explore the areas around town I was excited to see more. I was so excited to be able to see the town of Ponta Delgada, and see the architecture that has been there for many years. Seeing how different things are from back home was refreshing and got me hooked to see more of the landscape and the built environment we were in.
Arriving into Ponta Delgada at 6am from Boston was tiring, but after a few espresso shots we were ready for the day. We started off with a lecture at The University of the Azores, the professors educated us on nature and the differences of native and non-native flora and plant species. I found it fascinating that many non-native plants grew better in Azores than in their home countries. After a brief lunch break which included a delicious chunk of honeycomb, we went to a Second lecture to discuss the Architecture of Ponta Delgada. What started as a conversation in the classroom turned into a tour of the city. What I appreciated most from our conversation was the concern of preserving Ponta Delgada’s original architecture as the demand from tourism increases.
The next day, we were up early and in the lecture room of the military base/museum. We were presented with a lecture on photography and given an activity which included choosing one picture from a group and going through an in depth process to give the photo a description. I enjoyed this activity a lot because it was thought provoking and made me look at the photo from many perspectives. From there, we checked out all the memorabilia and architecture within in the museum then took a bus to the thermal springs. I was truly amazed by the thermal springs and botanical gardens, to witness all the heat coming from the ground and warming the sand and water is truly astounding.
On May 23rd, we went to a working cow farm. There we saw how one of these farm was operated. It was interesting to see how the cows all knew what to do, where to go and how to form a line for milking. We also tried some of the milk straight from the cows, which unexpectedly just tasted like normal pasteurized milk.
On May 22nd we traveled from São Miguel, to Terceira had lunch there then flew to Graciosa, where we unpacked in the hotel and rested for a few hours. Later that night we went out as a group and ate at Costa Do Sol while the sun set outside.