Welcome to the second part of a whatever-number-part series about my family trip to the Azores. I sincerely apologize for the delay in these updates. My time so far in Lisbon can be described by the following gifs:
The day I arrived in Lisbon I met up with a friend whom I met when I was here three years ago. I was under the impression that we were going to have coffee and hang out for a couple hours. Then we started drinking wine and then two in the morning showed up and I realized that I hadn’t eaten dinner. Result: ouch. We ended up hanging out for the better part of three days. There was some beach and a lot of wine. But he finally went to the south for a few days so now I can be my own bad influence.
Day two in the Azores went like this:
We woke up and grabbed breakfast from the hotel buffet. Hotel breakfast buffets make me very very happy. I could use one of those now. The hostel I’m currently staying at has free pancakes for breakfast which are delicious and wonderful but I want cheese.
Oh, that’s another thing! I like cheese now! Before this trip I was very very particular about cheese. I only liked soft cheeses or cheese that was melty. But I no longer discriminate and I like all of them. Equal opportunity cheese eater.
The Azores are GREAT for cheese. Each island has its own special cheese and they are all delicious.
Spain has great cheese, too, and I feel a horrendous guilt for not giving it more of a chance when I lived there. Now I am going back to a country full of individually-wrapped squares marketed as cheese but containing a mere hint of cheese-like flavor. What am I thinking?
This is what I was looking at while I ate my yummy cheese and stuff:
After that we ventured into the “city” of Angra do Heroísmo (I use scare quotes because it’s tiny) for some shopping. It was absolutely pissing rain. My dad bought a round of umbrellas for everyone and then we got more snacks. Then Titio L and Titia M showed up. They thought we’d gotten lost and came looking for us because they assumed we were planning to spend the day together.
I think I’ve failed to mention that I had just started my period and was in agony. I was exhausted and hadn’t pooped since I arrived. The only thing I wanted to be the entire day was horizontal. Granted that is not much different from my normal state of being, but this time I wanted to be horizontal ALONE with the lights off. But I had to make certain sacrifices for my family.
We went to visit the houses of two of my dad’s cousins. It’s difficult to find a property on the island that isn’t an ocean view. In the first property we were given a tour by my five-year-old second cousin. He is a very gifted child. First he showed us his room which was home to his collection of pacifiers that he kept from when he was a baby. Then he took us to his new brother’s room. (He’s a month old.)
“As you can see, it’s very close to mine!”
After that he took us to his bathroom.
“This is my toilet,” he said. “And this is the shower. And look, you can move the shower head to clean yourself.” He also explained the function of the bidet when he took us to the grown-ups’ bathroom.
The tour ended with a mini-tantrum because he didn’t get to show us his toys.
Are you bored yet? Too bad.
Then we went back to my aunt and uncle’s place to help them finish off the feast from the night before. We made a small dent in the leftovers, but their kids had to go over every day for lunch for the next week until it was even close to being finished. Titia M had presents for everyone. She gave all the grown up ladies earrings, and somehow perfectly predicted each of our styles. (Probably Facebook stalking. In any event, she did a great job.)
After lunch we drove about thirty seconds to go to the nursing home where another great aunt of mine is living. I was dreading this visit to an extent. Simply because I’d been hearing stories about her bluntness. When my dad’s brother went to visit her, she said, “You know, when your father died I didn’t really miss him because I didn’t know him that well.”
One day she said to Titio L of my grandfather: “Oh you know, my brother Laurenio, now he was handsome. You…. ehhhh… you’re a bit short, you know?”
And anytime a female relative who has been enjoying life comes to visit she’ll say, “You got fat.” She hadn’t met me, but maybe she’d seen my baby pictures. I’ve filled out extensively since my days of sipping formula and pooping everywhere but the toilet.
But this woman has certainly earned saying whatever the fuck she damn well pleases.
When she was a very young girl, we aren’t clear exactly what age she was (my father claimed it was around five), the town priest decided he wanted her to go live with him and help him out with his daily life. I am not entirely sure how this happened, and yes, it sounds a lot like kidnapping and enslavement. The poor girl grew up away from her family and folded laundry for a priest, because, in my father’s words, “you have no idea the kind of power the Catholic Church had in those days.”
There was one boy whom she fell in love with, but she wasn’t allowed to date.
When she was older and out of the grips of the priest, she took in a young boy and raised him as her own. When he grew up she sold her house so he could build a new one. She was to be living with him. Then he and his wife kicked her out.
So, yeah, she has carte blanche. I couldn’t blame her for seeing ugliness everywhere after life has been that ugly to her.
The visit was nice, and the nursing home was beautiful. Again, with an ocean view. She didn’t say anything mean to anyone. She was just so surprised to have us all there. My brother and sister were being rather loud as children tend to be. They were playing with these pillows that were then confiscated by one of the (rather brute) caregivers. It was then that I decided maybe I don’t want offspring. If I reproduce I’ll never be able to travel the way I want to again.
Later that evening we went to dinner at Pria Vitoria on the other side of the island. I was starting to thing I was never going to feel hungry again. I ordered a chicken salad because I felt like I needed to eat a plant, but I wasn’t allowed to leave without trying everything else on the table. THE CHEESE. They brought out bread and fresh cheese with this pepper sauce. And they made me eat the limpets (ever heard of limpets? I hadn’t until this trip), and the seafood stew and some other fishy mush thing.
As we neared the end of the meal, my dad got up to “go to the bathroom.” When he tried to pay the bill, the owner and waitress both laughed at him and said, “It’s already been paid for.” Good try, Dad. The race to pay the bill first is the most ancient battle among Portuguese families, which creates a fun dynamic of being both deeply appreciative but also wildly irritated.
Despite the rain and my uterus waging war against the rest of my body, it was a lovely day.
And that’s all we have time for today, because I now need to go eat food before going to this festival and getting wasted!