Sunday, June 24, 2012

2012 Azores trip - Day 1

Day 1 – Wednesday, June 20, 2012

We arrived in Ponta Delgada at 6:30 this morning to a rainy and cool morning after an easy overnight flight from Toronto.   The kids enjoyed the flight, though weren’t able to stay awake for the meal, which wasn’t served until 11 pm as the flight departed at 9:45 pm.  I don’t think Magnus would have impressed with the chicken anyway – the crunchy delicious exterior neatly disguised the mashed broccoli stuffing inside which, while delicious to most adult palates, would have made him gag.  And the last time we flew to Azores, five years previous, Magnus began the flight by unloading his stomach contents on his dad, covering me from neck to ankle in coagulated milk substance whose foul smell nearly caused a chain reaction vomit party on the airplane.  I’ve reminded him frequently about that experience since then and it makes him laugh every time.

We were met at the airport by several of Ana’s family – Tio Luis, cousin Natarcia and cousin Pedro and his beautiful daughter Bella, who seemed two feet taller than the last time we saw her.  We drove to Natarcia’s parent’s house and had a short visit over a delicious breakfast of fresh buns, cheese and coffee.  We then moved onto Ana’s aunt Ana’s house, which was to become our home for the next two weeks.  It was so nice to see her and tio Joe again after so many years.  To our delight, absolutely nothing had changed in the neighbourhood, and this is the real delight of the Azores, the slow pace of change and the simpler style of living.  This is still a place where the mornings bring vendors, sometimes by truck, other times by horse and cart, down the street selling milk, vegetables, bread and fish.  We were astonished to see this the first time we visited ten years ago, and it continues on today.

After a visit with Ana and Joe, a delightful nap for yours truly, and a delicious fish lunch, we took the kids for a big walk down to the nearby town of Lagoa, which is home to an amazing ocean-side recreation area consisting of natural ocean swimming areas, artificial chlorinated pools, and a snack bar serving food, drinks and ice cream.  By this time, the rain clouds had scattered, and it was a sunny 22 degrees outside, which brought out the lizards on the rock fences which are everywhere and serve as property line divisions, providing amble hunting opportunities for the kids.  Since we didn’t pack our swimsuits, we just stopped at the pools for a coffee and ice cream and to show the kids around, in particular, we had to show them the “Boca da Belaea”, which is a part of the pools where the incoming swells force out the air from an underwater cave and result in an explosion of water which resembles the blow hole expulsion of a whale.  Stella and Magnus were very impressed, but failed to believe our assertions that there was indeed a whale trapped in there causing the spray.

On the way back home we stopped at the nearby port to see the fishermen chopping bait and getting ready for the next morning’s efforts on the sea.  We passed by one proud fellow who had caught a gigantic lobster, and Ana was quick to snap a picture.  We also stopped at a small market and picked up some essentials – kids sugar cereal, beer and wine!

After we arrived, it wasn’t long until all four of us were napping – Ana out on the balcony in the sun, and the kids and I on a bed in a cool room.  Considering the kids only slept for a few hours on the plane, I was amazed they had stayed awake that long.  Ana and I woke up around 7pm and tried to wake the kids, but they were finished for the night, so we just packed them into bed, then went downstairs for a nice dinner and an easy evening visiting with tia Ana.

The late days naps kept Ana and I up until about midnight, and as we were going to bed we heard the shuffling of four little feet at the kids broke into our room, wide eyed and ready for the next event of the day....which turned out to be a family movie on the laptop with all four of us squeezed into the bed.  To my horror they chose “Happy Feet 2” which is probably the second worst movie ever made.  Fortunately for Ana, she immediately fell asleep and I somehow remained awake for the painful duration...

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