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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.
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