Travel Journals

Poetry to Peacocks

Poderei falar-te da paz de uma ilha e dos braços sobre a alegria das dunas, o crepúsculo avançado sobre a muralha.

I could talk to you of the peace of an island and of the arms upon the happiness of the dunes, the twilight advancing upon the fortress wall.

-Ângela Almeida, from “Return To Me All The Silences”

Hello, world!

Poetry is a precious medium here, and the above is from a collection of Azorean island poets. I wish that I could speak Portuguese more interchangeably with English to enjoy the subtleties and textures of the language, but IÕve been enjoying the translations!

A woman I’ve gotten to be friends with here, Gabriela, is very excited by the prospect of me illustrating an upcoming book of her poetry with my photography. She wants to unveil the project here at the biggest annual cultural festival in Lages at the end of July and has grand visions of us doing a joint book tour/multi-media presentation all over the islands and mainland Portugal. It’s an amazing opportunity, really, but I’m a bit overwhelmed by her enthusiasm so we’ll see what really comes from it all!

Yesterday brought a gorgeous day of sun and an adventure off to the cliffs and lighthouse of Ponta Delgada on another corner of Flores. We also stopped at a garden with beautiful peacocks strolling about, reindeer, and other assorted animals amid blossoming azaleas, streams, and several rainbow trout ponds. I know this is still winter, but there really are zero tourists anywhere, which is such a treat!

Amanda and I went to a dinner a couple of weeks ago where a traditional dish called “Polvo” (Octopus with the ink still in it!) was served. I’m relieved to report that it was better than I’d initially feared, and tasted like a rich, meaty chili. No strange suction cups anywhere; only a tasty and unusual red wine sauce!

I’m starting to know a few more of the locals: Esmerelda, the post mistress (who calls when we have mail since we don’t have a box! She’s also head of the folk-dancing troupe), Saul the baker who delivers fresh bread every Monday and Thursday evening by driving around in his little red truck and honking his horn, Emelia- the owner of the nearest tiny café who made me a fresh home-made pizza on Saturday after I drew pictures of all of the toppings, a woman named Fatima who called out to me while I was walking and taking pictures and who showed me her new baby goats (!), and various other characters who of course all have their stories...

I’m continuing to make progress with my CJD research and will likely fly back to Washington DC to attend the annual CJD conference in early July. Making things fit neatly together is a bit of a trick, especially with South Africa at the end of July and potentially a trip back to Flores in between! But I’m trying to just let things unfold...

I’ll sign off as I know this is getting long... We’re not yet on Daylight Savings Time, but apparently will catch up with the rest of the world in a few weeks!

Love and all best wishes from the island of flowers...