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Friday, October 29, 2010

Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres - São Miguel, Azores

The dates for the 2011 Festa do Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres in Ponta Delgada, São Miguel, Azores, has been set for May 26 to June 2.
This celebration is the largest religious festivity in the Azores. 
Something new this year, is the ability to view the festivities on the internet. and

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Oficina Museu M.J.Melo - Capelas, São Miguel, Azores

Oficina Museu - Artesanato M.J. Melo, is a private concern, built by the Melo Family, it does not receive any subsidies from the government. The property was an empty field when purchased and is maintained and expanded from insignificant fees charged to view the museum.. A true work of love, it well represents the various enterprising activities as they were done in the 19th and 20th century in the Azores. Some of the displays are from still existing business that have been upgraded, and that have donated their store fronts and equipment to the museum. Artisans work while the visitors tour and there is a small souvenir shop, where well chosen and affordable items are available. Of special interest are the artisans that make the traditional nativity scene statues and houses, as well as the fish scale and onion and garlic skin arrangements, much appreciated by the locals and immigrant community. 
It is a must visit location to relive and learn how things were done in the past.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Calhetas-Feast of Our Lady of Good Voyage

Calhetas is where the Alves family has a home. The original family home was built in 1867. The family was a prominent land owner in Calhetas, from the mid 1800's on, spending all summers there, at the time of harvesting the corn and grapes. Wine making was one of the principal activities, with a still producing some of what many considered the best Agua Ardente (distilled spirits) in the area. The Feast of Our Lady of Good Voyage is held on the last weekend of every September. My father was president of the town council in the early 1940's and his picture was affixed in the town council's meeting room with all of the other presidents that came after him during the 2010 feast.
In 1929, the author's great, great, grandmother donated the money for gold leaf to be applied to the main altar.
The author spent much of the summer at the summer homes, mostly getting in the way of workers. At the time, much of the labor was done manually, with the crops being brought to the house in an oxen pulled cart guided by a man named Paulino.
During the remainder of the year, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, Paulino would bring to Ponta Delgada to the homes of the family members, freshly baked corn bread, made by his mother and sister, as well as vegetables and fruits. On special occasions, he would also bring massa sovada ( sweet bread) that was made by another woman in the village by the name of Leontina.
Calhetas was and is a  special place for the Alves'. The author has many memories from the days spent there, as well as the taste of the foods and smells of freshly picked corn and pressed grapes.
Click to view album.

Câmara da Ribeira Grande Promotes Forum - Sister Cities a Bridge to the World

During my visit to São Miguel, I was invited by the President of the Municipality of Ribeira Grande to attend the Sister Cities Forum that was being held. It brought together to discuss common bonds and needs the cities of Sommerville and Fall River (USA), Laval, (Canada), Ribeira Grande, Santo Antão (Cape Verde), Ribeira Grande, Santiago (Cape Verde) Lagos, (Continental Portugal) and Porto Alegre (Brazil).
A protocal was signed between Ponta Delgada and the cities of Lagos, Algarve and Sommerville, MA. Additionally a three way assistance program was signed between Ribeira Grande, Santo Antão (Cape Verde), Ribeira Grande (Azores) and the Regional Government of the Azores.
Presentations were made by each city and discussions were held and discussions on the advantages of  the sister city program was held.
This was a wonderful opportunity to meet the various representatives and to exchanges ideas.
Although I was not able to attend the final day of meetings, it was a well designed event, whose benefits will be visible in years to come.
Click to view full screen

 Fall River, East Providence,

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ferraria - São Miguel, Azores


The Ferraria thermal springs emerges at the sea level in the Ferraria lava delta (western edge of S. Miguel island, as a result of a volcanic eruption that formed the island Sabrina in 1811. Shortly after the forming of the island, it disappeared into the sea,but left a lava flow in the coast.
Left are the vestiges of this eruption where the thermal baths of Ferraria exist now. A completely refurbished facility, offering mineral baths, massages and an Olympic size outdoor pool filled with naturally heated water, and a café, reopened to the public in September of 2010. Previously it was operated as a thermal baths hospital that had fallen into disrepair.
The road to the site was modernized with a safe concrete road that now provides easy access. The surrounding area was also landscaped and offers a large parking lot.
Public swimming is available at the end of a gravel trail, that takes one to a modern changing area and showers. This is free to the public.
At the end of the trail, there are some wooden and composite board platforms on the rocks that allow for sunbathing. At least one has already been thorn apart by strong waves. It is only a short time before the rages of the winter seas, tear the others out, leaving no place to sunbathe. This arrea needs to be reevaluated for better and permanent structures, that are still eco friendly.
Due to the limitations demanded by the environmental group Quercus, access to the natural pool is very cumbersome and dangerous. The public must walk on jagged, uneven volcanic rock until one reaches the stainless steel step ladders that give access to the natural pool.
It is unfortunate that this shortsightedness will result in additional high expense to the regional government, not to speak of the possible major injuries that sunbathers, may endure.
Setting aside the dangerous access to the natural pool, once one reaches the site, it is one of the more enjoyable activities one can experience on São Miguel.
A natural pool with cool water coming from the open ocean it is heated by underwater volcanic vents that spew out hot water at around 140ºF. After mixing with the ocean water, it creates a comfortable water blend of a constant 81ºF to swim in.
Be careful and enjoy!
Click to view full screen.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Caloura, São Miguel, Azores

Caloura is a well established area of summer estates, vineyards and a small fishing port. For over five hundred years, it has been a chosen location for the people of the island of São Miguel to spend their summers, enjoy the ocean and most importantly, Caloura's micro climate.
During the sixteen century, two nuns from the Caloura Monastery in the island of Sao Miguel, Azores, went to Rome to ask for a bula for their monastery. Pope Clement VII conceded the bula and presented the two nuns with a gift of an image of the Ecce Homo (Senhor Santo Cristo).
Historical, Caloura was a choice location for pirates to come ashore on the island due to the areas many caverns, making it easy to hide. For this reason, it was decided by the Counts of Vila Franca to have a monastery build in Ponta Delgada to house the statue. Over the years, many miracles have been attributed to the Senhor Santo Cristo.
Today Caloura continues to live up to its reputation. Due to being near the most populated areas on São Miguel, it is now offers choice hotels and modern small estates, a small beach, and great swimming and diving.

Double click on photo to view on full screen.

Liceu de Ponta Delgada - São Miguel, Açores

Matando Saudades

Este verão tive ocasião de voltar a Ponta Delgada e visitar lugares que tinham feito parte do meu passado, e que inclui o antigo Liceu de Ponta Delgada.
Obviamente diferente dos meus tempos, o jardim em frente ao antigo liceu, está completamente renovado, ainda que as mesmas aurocárias continuam a dar a sua assombrosa sombra.
Confesso que estava um pouco apreensivo, mas ansioso para voltar a entrar o portão de ferro principal que dá acesso ao pátio com os seus grandes plátanos.
No meu tempo, esse portão não so servia para entrar para as aulas, como para depois das aulas, servir para ver as meninas sair.
Entrei no pátio, e o primeiro que detetei, foi que as antigas arcadas onde a Mocidade Portuguesa se reunia, estavam agora todas fechadas e o espaço aproveitado para aulas. Lembrei-me das marchas ao som dos tambores, dos 1º de Dezembro no Coliseu, e do João Bosco que foi meu Chefe de Quina.
Entrei a porta principal e para a direita no corredor era local da minha turma 1°E e para a esquerda a turma 2°C que actualmente é uma sala de convívio para estudantes.
Olhando em volta, ainda lá está à esquerda na parede, o armário que contém a sineta para chamar para as aulas os alunos e professores, a qual tocava o contínuo, Sr. Tavares. Belos tempos, quando juntávamos uns centávos para lhe dar, para que fosse tomar um meio de vinho ao Avião e se descuidasse da terceira badalada.
Subi a escadaria com os degraus de pedra mais gastos pelos subir e descer de milhares estudantes.
Ao cimo da escada fui dar com a sala de professores, que ainda que tivesse a porta aberta, metia o mesmo respeito que nos meus anos de aluno. Atrevi-me a entrar e dirigi-me a um professor que era mais novo do que os anos que passaram desde que entrei naquela sala, que trabalhava com o seu HP Mini. Não pude espreitar para ver se estava a fazer algum trabalho ou no Facebook.
“Já lá vão cinquenta e quatro anos desde que entrei nesta sala” dice eu. Ele olhou para mim com um ar perplexo, e convidou-me a passar. Trocamos impressões, fiz referencia ao meu reitor, Dr. João Anglin, em cuja sala tinha apanhado uma sarabanda dele, depois de ter passado a aula de moral do Senhor Padre Rebelo debaixo da secretária ao lado dos seus pés, sem que ele desse por isso. Bela partidada me pareceu na altura, Ao chegar a casa do meus avós, apanhei outra sarabando do meu avô, José Inácio Alves, que era amigo íntimo do Padre Rebelo, e que lhe contara da minha peripérsia.
Uma professora que lá se encontrava, convidou-me a ver a biblioteca e salas adjacentes que tinham sido recentemente renovadas, incluindo as belas pinturas das paredes e tetos.
Desci e continuei a reviver, passando ao jardim. Olhando para o Ginásio, relembrei as aulas de educação física e os bailes de Natal com o grupo de Teófílo Frazão.
No meu tempo, ainda existia o rinque de patinagem onde passava muitas das minhas tardes depois das aulas, com alguns amigos, o Fernando Anselmo, José Manuel Garcia, Jorge Àspera Moniz, Rogério Carpinteiro e Deodato Magalhães. Golos e caneladas eram a ordem do dia. Por outro lado era uma boa maneira para atrair a atenção das meninas que estavam no balcão no outro lado do jardim.
Continuei pelo jardim e entrei no pátio do então segundo cíclo. Outrora área proíbida para os do primeiro cíclo com excepção do acesso ao refeitório. Ainda entrei no refeitório e parece que os cheiros de então ainda perduravam. Depois de todos esses anos, ainda podia saboriar um maionese de batata com ervilha e cenoura que serviam num papo-seco.
Não pude deixar como desprecebido um Multibanco presente no corredor. No meu tempo, contavam-se as cerrilhas, hoje, as maquinas dispensam euros para as novas necessidades.
Mais umas fotografias, uns últimos momentos de reflexão e pronto.
Uma entrada ao corredor que nos levava entre os dois cíclos e pronto, estavamos na secretaria e porta de saída.
De volta na rua, hoje cheia de carros, a visita resumiu-se a uma hora de relembar o que à cinquenta e quatro anos se tinha vivido e que continua firmemente fixo na mente.

José Maurício Lomelino Alves
Vista, Califórnia