Travel Journals

Blood Sausage to Starlight

Boa Tarde!

I’m approaching the end of my 3rd week here in the Azores, and it feels in some ways that the community is opening slowly and that I am settling a bit more comfortably into the light and wind...

Last weekend, Amanda- my housemate- and I went to a fundraising dinner for the local folk dancing group. It was a very traditional affair: most of the population of Lages attended, and the food was traditional too (“We use all parts of the pig here!”) We were interviewed on camera about our views on Flores, the townspeople, the food, etc., though it wasn’t until a couple of days ago that I was stopped by two different people who said, “I saw you on the news!” Funny to be on TV in yet another country! (Thailand, Afghanistan, the U.S. and now Portugal! : )

The ladies at the dinner were selling raffle tickets for a hand-made crocheted baby outfit, but when Amanda tried to say that we didn’t have any babies, she was met with the matter-of-fact response, “Now, you don’t need. In 9 months, maybe you need!” That pragmatism is very typical here!

I’ve stepped officially into my research for Creutzfeldt - Jakob disease and am trying to figure out the main players internationally in terms of research, funding, legislation, and family support. There seem to be organizations in England, Scotland, France, Australia, Japan, and the U.S.A, though at this point I’m trying to just absorb information and see what might make sense in terms of making connections this year. Some of the descriptions written in the CJD Foundation newsletters remind me so much of Dad’s rapid and terrible decline, and people seem to have received varying amounts of support and information during their own experiences with the illness. It’s poignant stuff.

Last night Amanda and I were invited to attend a rehearsal of the above-mentioned folk-dancing troupe who practices every Tuesday night. This was a group of young folks who will be performing in Terceira (another Azorean island) in July. It was really fun to watch, and it reminded me vaguely of square-dancing but with fancier footwork. There were live musicians (3 banjos and 2 guitars) and 2 men and 2 women singing with really lyrical and rollicking tunes! I think we’ll go back next week, since it seems to be about the only social event going on during the winter!

The moon was so bright on our walk home, and I woke up about 4:30 AM this morning by the stars shining through the skylight and into my loft... It’s not such a bad thing to be awake before (most of) the roosters!

I’ll try to attach a few photos of the house and island, so I hope they come through!

Much love to all on this final February afternoon!