guest post: week one in the azores

As I have mentioned, my lovely friend Sam has been visiting my for the past couple weeks.  While I have been continuing to document my daily happiness, she has, in turn, been documenting her daily experiences on this beautiful Azorean island.  It is fun to read her blog, it is interesting to view my life through her eyes.  I enjoy her experiences from her perspective, where I am a supporting character.

Sam Veldhouse
Sam Veldhouse

Azores Day 1: I am in the Azores and all there is to do is sleep.

Well Blog, I made it to Terceira. I haven’t done much but sleep, eat a hamburger, paint a painting, and sleep more.

Before all of that hullaballoo happened, I waited in line to check my bag, then I waited in line to board the plane over here, then I waited for the plane people to check out these two people who apparently were too sick to fly, then we took off and I had an anxiety attack complete with very intense visuals of how I would escape the metal tube I was flying in were it to crash into the ocean. Then we landed and I waited in line to get off the plane, to board a shuttle, to get through customs, and to pick up my bags.

The flight itself was only four hours, but throw everything else into the mix and I think I was dealing with SATA airlines for a good 10. I wish I was exaggerating. I also wish I hadn’t come right off of two flights before I even saw that ridiculous line at the ticketing counter at Logan Airport in Boston.

That’s what you get for flying to a remote island in the Atlantic. That, and jet lag. Which is what I have right now. Which is why I should probably try and sleep more even though I just woke up.

Oh, I also took a picture of the view from the room which Carlis of the O’Clare kind has so kindly set up for me. Batteries are dying all over the place so I’m not going to post it here, but you can know that it’s the same view that you can see here (minus my face).

With that, I’m off to bed for even more sleep. Hopefully this session won’t be full of weird dreams about mental breakdowns and random gifts of banana bread.


Azores Day 2: Awkward Beach & Old Friends

Just like that, I’ve adjusted to the time change, Blog. All that sleep paid off and today I was able to take some time for personal reflection along with a nice jaunt down to the beach where I silently freaked out about which part of the swimming hole was best to explore. I was clearly the only American at this public access. While everyone else confidently navigated the concrete stairs that have been built into the rocky cliffs so as to access the Atlantic’s chilly waters, I was awkwardly reading Kurt Vonnegut’s Jailbird while watching the Portuguese dive into water that I eventually learned was not deep enough for even a belly flop (in my opinion anyway).

The cliffs distract you from the fact that all water in this photo is no more than 4 feet deep. Photo by Sam Veldhouse, 2013
The cliffs distract you from the fact that all water in this photo is no more than 4 feet deep. Photo by Sam Veldhouse, 2013

I love Europe because rules are a moot point here. There was a kid who was no more than four years old running around on the concrete, peering over edges that dropped an easy 15 feet down into frigid water that was well over his head. He was walking along rocks with waves splashing around him. He was pushing off the edge of the stairs to try out his puppy-like doggy paddle with no adult within reach. Sure there were lifeguards present, but they were occupied with trying to capture what I assumed was a jellyfish in another part of the swimming area.

After overthinking it to a maddening point, I finally just manned up and made my way down some stairs where there were a couple ladies around my age cooling off in the water. As I approached them I realized I had forgotten (or, fine, maybe I didn’t know) the Portuguese word for hello, which is sad because it’s ola. I awkwardly smiled as they blatantly judged and then decided to escape the entire situation by submerging myself in the cold and salty water.

Swim swim swim. Yes. This water was definitely only up to my rib cage. Why are full grown men diving into this head first from 15 feet above? Oh that’s right. Europe doesn’t have rules or a sense of preventative action. Anything goes! I’ll bite if it means I can drink wine in the passenger’s seat of Carly’s island bomb car, which I can. No one is forcing me to dive into this ridiculously shallow water or flirt with poisonous jelly fish. No rules it is.

But the real highlight of my day was seeing this lady:

All I got was an action shot of nipple warfare in the car. Photo by Sam Veldhouse, 2013
All I got was an action shot of nipple warfare in the car. Photo by Sam Veldhouse, 2013

Megan Ramage White is on this island and we had dinner and it was the best. Old memories resurfaced and we reminisced about the good old days (and holy hell that entry I linked to above is so old, I was still nursing my wounds from my break up with Rob. ROB.). It’s been four years since we’ve seen one another; a time that has been easily marked by her daughter’s existence, who before tonight I met only once when she was a baby. She’s four now and we had a lengthy conversation about her cat, Chicken and how she had all sorts of animals at her birthday party. I’m sad I’m away from home for so long, but am so happy I’m here for the next three weeks so I can be with these awesome people in this awesome place for an adequate amount of time.

Tomorrow we go to Biscoitos for more beach. This time I won’t be alone so I’m hopeful my ability to exist in European society will be realized and executed.

Until then, I’m totally going to bed when I’m supposed to. Success!

Azores Day 3: Oh that’s right…the military

That’s right Blog. Every trip overseas is made for a reason. Mine more often than not have to do with a particular branch of the military known as the Air Force. Today I spent a couple hours face to face with the intimidating Security Forces (keeping things secure!) while trying my hand at getting a base pass so I could do elaborate and secret military things like eat hot sandwiches and buy hair dye. Apparently I needed someone who was an E5 rank or higher (don’t ask me what that actually means) to sponsor me so I can access these luxuries and apparently everyone who was at an E5 rank or higher (seriously, someone tell me who invented this system of ranking) was at some mysterious military welcome-something-or-other.

Or they were defending the freedom all of us civilians back in the states enjoy day in and day out without a second thought (by attending some welcome-something-or-other). Whatever.

After getting to know the airman who was airmanning the front desk that assigns base passes to random civilians like me, Casey finally showed up to sign a piece of paper that apparently gives me Lajes access for the next three weeks. Score! I’m totally going to hit up the BX and gorge myself on sparkling water and candy bars that I pay for in American dollars, just because I can. Well worth the wait, if you ask me.

Other than that weird adventure, today was full of cats, naps, lava rock, and Chicken House. Here’s where I’d post a picture of Chicken House with a clever caption, but I was dumb and didn’t snap a photo of it before we went in to eat. So all you get is Carly on some lava rock.

There’s lava rock here because this island is basically a volcano that exploded millions of years ago. GEOLOGY. Photo by Sam Veldhouse, 2013
There’s lava rock here because this island is basically a volcano that exploded millions of years ago. GEOLOGY. Photo by Sam Veldhouse, 2013

Azores Day 4: Running from bulls

Alright Blog. Today I saw the one thing that Terceira is known for. It’s obvious that Terceira is on the tips of everyone’s tongues these days and those tongues are more than likely talking about the most exciting thing that this world has known ever in this universe ever and that is…

Also, bull aggravation is very difficult to photograph. Photo by Sam Veldhouse 2013
Also, bull aggravation is very difficult to photograph. Photo by Sam Veldhouse 2013

BULL AGGRAVATION!!

No, it’s not running with the bulls like they do in Spain. No, it’s not a bull fight with a matador and a red flag. NO it’s not cow tipping.

It’s simply what it sounds like. A bunch of (drunk) Portuguese men annoy bulls in the street and then run from their subsequent wrath.

I mean what else are you going to do on an island in the middle of the ocean to pass the time? There’s livestock and streets and drunk Europeans all over the place. Might as well combine them all into one evening that is ruled by testosterone and adrenaline. It seriously was one of the more entertaining things I’ve witnessed and I’m secretly hoping that this happens again before I leave. What is it about a bunch of creatures with testicles pissing each other off in the streets that is so alluring? I know not, but hundreds of men, women, and children gathered to watch. Blood was drawn. I’m the entire tradition’s newest fan.

OMG it was seriously so exciting I can’t believe I’m falling for this ridiculous European pastime! Photo by Sam Veldhouse, 2013
OMG it was seriously so exciting I can’t believe I’m falling for this ridiculous European pastime! Photo by Sam Veldhouse, 2013

Everything else I did today pales in comparison. Sorry Carly. Lunch with you was great and I had a wonderful time eating questionable baked goods at the Biscoitos swimming hole, but bull aggravation Carly. BULL AGGRAVATION!

Azores Day 5: Island Lady Friends 

Real quick, Blog. I’m drunk and I hung out with these ladies all day (hence me being drunk; I don’t do this on my own).

I’m being bold putting a bikini picture up because I’m drunk and everything is a good idea right now. Photo by Megan Ramage-White, 2013
I’m being bold putting a bikini picture up because I’m drunk and everything is a good idea right now. Photo by Megan Ramage-White, 2013

Like I said, I’m drunk. And it’s late (for this time zone anyway) so I’m going to bed. I just didn’t want to miss a day blogging. Even if it’s just a quick “hey look at this awesome group of island girlfriends I have”. That’s right Blog. I don’t mind bragging about my friends. Because they’re awesome and salty and sunburnt because we all hung out at the beach today. Yes this is a surfacey “my life is awesome” post, but I truly feel lucky that I can go to a (seemingly) random island and end up with a solid group of lady friends to hang out with. I might as well show my gratitude for it via the internet.

Bye!

Azores Day 6: More Lajes Lady Love 

Blog, I can’t even deal with how much fun the Lajes ladies are. Tonight we had a three hour dinner where we were that table. Luckily we were quarantined in our own that table room, so we weren’t too much of a distraction for everyone else. Jokes that rank pretty explicit and ridiculous on the explicit and ridiculous scale dominated the evening (all I’ll say is “glory hole room”) and I laughed more than I have since I’ve been here, minus the rapper-video dance montage we did at the beach yesterday. Basically we act like obscene 13 year olds and it’s the best thing ever because we can drink wine while we’re doing it.

And though dinner was delicious and highly entertaining, it was also bittersweet. The whole loud American outing was part of a goodbye to Jimmy and Trishell who fly away in the morning. They’ve been stationed in Salt Lake City, Utah and are on their way stateside tomorrow. I’ve just gotten to know Trishell for the few days I’ve been here combined with the few days I was here last year, but it’s easy to see that she’s a huge part of this group of friends and will be sorely missed. Saying goodbye to good friends just part of the Air Force I guess. That’s what my sister in law says anyway. And she knows what’s what because she’s Guam-ing it right now and is about to say goodbye to island life herself. Of course all of us back home are looking forward to her return; including my badass niece who is her direct spawn and a miniature version of her. But there’s something to be said for the bonds that you make abroad. If you find your niche, you don’t want to leave it because you all are in this weird place together and you grow from that experience. I guess all you can do is look ahead to the new friends you’ll make in the new places you’ll live. It’s almost as if the military makes you go through being a freshmen in college every few years, just to keep you on your toes. Reason number 573 why I never joined. Gross.

But, the friends have been made and the times have been had and you can’t change that. Especially tonight when we all were around the table flopping our arms on the table and laughing so hard at the inside jokes that were being born before our eyes that all we could do was take another sip of wine and laugh some more.

Yeah, Blog. It’s sappy I know. Maybe it’s because I’m drunk again (Megan and I might have shared two bottles of wine; you do the math (meth?). Maybe it’s because I’m saying goodbye to some really great people who I don’t want to say goodbye to in the morning. Maybe it’s because this trip so far has been a great opportunity to hang out with friends who I’ve known for a good ten years now. And they’re not just friends at this point; they’re family.

This is just scratching the surface.
This is just scratching the surface.

Azores Day 7: Not every day is an adventure 

Blog, I didn’t take any pictures today because it was a lazy Sunday to the max. After saying goodbye to Jimmy and Trishell this morning, we went to the grocery store and then immediately returned to the casa de McSwenny where we proceeded to eat ice cream, watch movies, and nap. Sure Carly and I took a very scenic walk this evening, but I’m not going to bring a picture-taking machine with me on such an outing. No no. Just water for hydration and my mad rock climbing skills, yo. Don’t worry, Blog. I have an entire day to kill tomorrow. I’ll go for the same walk and get some scenic snaps of ocean and rocks and shit.

Also, reading the above paragraph makes me realize I’m starting to sound like Casey McKinney due to the ample amount of time I’ve been spending with him. Give me a week and I fear I’ll be dropping f-bombs all up in here while trying to convince everyone that goats have x-ray vision.

Since there are no pictures, I’ll leave you with a portion of the safety video they show you on the Portugal airplane before it flies you to an island that’s full of livestock and good times. I realize this might be more appropriate to post when the end of my trip is approaching and I’m getting ready to fly away on the Portugal airplane, but it’s worth posting now because I need someone to tell me why a Victorian-era woman is on this flight:

And if that wasn’t enough, you can find all five weird and European minutes of it here.

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