literally slower

august16, digital photo manipulation, 2011
august16 • digital photo manipulation • Carly Swenson • 2011
Vila Nova, May 2011
Vila Nova, May 2011

Life seems to move slower here.  In one way, life is literally slower here.  While driving, it’s not uncommon to come upon a tractors, heavy machinery, construction sites encroaching onto the narrow streets, horses with carts, That adorable old man with the donkey cart he uses to haul milk cans from one place to somewhere else, herds of cattle lumbering from one pasture to another, marching bands, parade processions commemorating a local festival or religious celebration, or even street bull fights (or perhaps, some fascinating combination, depending on how far I travel and on which roads).   I have found it’s important to embrace these situations as an opportunity to experience and observe rural Azorean culture.  Granted, on the few occasion I am running late, it is far more difficult to appreciate these slow-moving moments in daily life.

Parade preparations in Vila Nova III, 2013
Parade preparations in Vila Nova III, 2013

The phrase island time is frequently used.  Island time means business hours of operations are more general estimate and not particularly strict.  In island time expect anything to be at least fifteen minutes later than scheduled.  As an American, I feel this is a perfect opportunity to force myself to slow down.  Our culture always tends to be moving at an unnecessarily fast pace.  We rush from one thing to the next, always looking forward to the next task at hand.  As Americans we seem to be incessantly hurrying to wait, waiting in line, waiting for a bus, waiting for the weekend.

september14, photo/copyright: Carly Swenson 2011
september14, photo/copyright: Carly Swenson 2011

It feels far more natural here to embrace each moment as it comes.  My life is absolutely nothing extraordinary here.  But I’m finding unique beauty in each day.  I enjoy walking on the coastal cliffs by my house, feeling the ocean breeze brushing my hair across my face with the salty ocean air filling my lungs.  Some evenings, my husband and I drink wine on the balcony; we watch the gulls fly over the shoreline and the neighbor goat grazing in the yard bordering ours, we listen to the neighborhood chickens and the children playing next door  Our sleepy dogs stretch out on the cool tile floor, and I can’t help but feel happy with life.  Everyday I am grateful to be alive, grateful for my husband, for our furry little creatures, our home, and grateful for how blessed we are to be able to simply slow down and enjoy life here.

There is more to life than increasing its speed. -Gandhi

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