Day 5 – Friday, April 14, 2023 - Explore Praia De Vitória
The hotel breakfast was very nice and a great way to start our day. We met our group in the lobby at 9:00 to begin exploring the eastern side of the island. Henrique gave us an overview of the history of the island as we retraced our path east through the green pastures and dry-stone fences.
With the growth of the military from Great Britain and the United States, during the 1940’s and then after WW2, the people of the Azores were introduced to Coca Cola, Levies, and vacuum cleaners although most of the small villages did not even have electricity.
We traveled back in the direction of the airport to Lajes Field now a Portuguese Air Base. Once the home of the United States Air Force Base, we met Tania Santos who is in charge of the Light House, a support organization for the poor of the island. The group helps families with social services including nutrition, education, and economic aid.
A doctoral student, Tania is doing research on the Azorean children who were adopted by American military families and then taken to the United States. Many times, these poor island families could not afford to feed their children and they saw these adoptions as a way of a better life for their children.
Our lively and emotional discussion centered upon the reunification of the children with their siblings and other relatives. With the advances of DNA evidence, the children of the Azores who were separated from their families were able to once again be united.
Able, our driver was waiting for us and we drove to the village of Praia de Vitória. This small community has beautiful shops, restaurants, and many parks. The second largest city on the island has a wide black beach and a very nice farmer’s market. Henrique’s friend, the owner of one of the grocery stores gave us a sample of a local cheese, olives, and small bananas.
Gennie bought a few bananas chicas, a smaller and sweeter banana that we learned to love in Brazil. At another café Vic saw an advertisement for a Caipirinha, Brazil's national cocktail, made with cachaça, sugar, and lime. In the bar were two guys from Brazil, one from Bahia and one from Rio Grande do Sul. Of course, the rest of our group walked on while Vic connected with his long-lost countrymen.
We drove to Restaurante Os Moinhos in the village of São Sebastião where we were served a typical vegetable soup, very tender beef stew over rice, and a molasses and spice cake for dessert.
On the way out of town we stopped at the Church of São Sebastião which was built by the first settlers of the island, around 1455.
Because there was a change in our itinerary, Henrique found out that we would be going to our home hosted dinner tonight instead of tomorrow. We drove back to the hotel for two hours of free time before meeting again at 6:45.
Flexibility is the key to travel, so we started the journal, organized photos, and got ready to meet our new friends from Angra. As in the past, our group of 15 was divided into three groups and taken to local families for a up close and personal get-together.
Dee, Sue, Ethel, and Vic & I arrived at the home Geraldo and Maria about 7:00. We had a delicious home cooked meal and a delightful evening of conversation. The time went by so quickly discussing families, health care, travel and much more.
Our bus came back to get us at 9:00, much too early as we could have talked for longer. This was one of the best home hosted experiences we have had in our 31 trips with OAT.
Back at the hotel, Henrique gave us our itinerary for tomorrow. Time to post the journal and prepare for another day in paradise!
Accommodations: Hotel Azoris Angra Garden -- Meals included: B & L
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Where did you pick up the 80’s walkman and what did you listen to when sipping your caipirinha?
It is fascinating that you came across a doctoral student doing research on children adopted by American families. I will be interested in hearing what you learned.
I have been reading and enjoying your posts from the Azores. I have questions about the weather there: is it humid? Hot? Rainy? It’s so green and lush looking I can’t stop staring at the photos of the countryside. Thanks for sharing your trip.
I love caipirinhas! I'm glad Vic could enjoy one with fellow countrymen! The Home Hosted Dinners are almost always very enjoyable, and I'm glad you had an extraordinary one!
I would think a home visit would be the highlight of a trip - the chance to see what life there would be like for one family and share a meal and conversation together.
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All so interesting! Thank you for sharing.
Day 13 - Saturday, April 22, 2022 - Depart for U.S.
The hotel prepared a box breakfast for us as we had to be in the lobby way before the breakfast room was open.
Last night we found out that our departure flight back to...