guest post: week two in the azores

Azores Day 8:
Awkward Beach II-The Tide is In

Blog, I meant to ask Casey and Carly what the far-off booms are that I’ve been hearing throughout the evening, but they went to bed and I just realized that I’m not in America anymore. “Left-over Fourth of July fireworks” isn’t a viable excuse here. Neither is“Portuguese people love celebrating our independence a month and a half late and on our behalf”.I guess it’s just some weird Europe or Air Force thing that I don’t know about. STORY OF MY ISLAND LIFE.Another story from my island life is my excursion to the beach today. You might remembermy first encounter with the Vila Nova beach from just a week ago. In case you don’t, then you clearly have either a tragic case of amnesia or no interest in yourself Blog, both of which are disappointing situations. But fine, I’ll baby you as I am wont to do and will sum up my last Vila Nova beach experience by saying that it was awkward. It was awkward because I overthink my existence when I’m alone in new and strange places and don’t know how to just go into the goddamned water already.But today, Blog. Today I found a nice spot that was both accessible to, and safe from the water. I set up camp and immediately made my way down to the stairs where last time I realized I didn’t know the Portuguese word for hello (it’s ola) when I encountered two ladies already in the water. Today it was just dudes in speedos and more small children running around on slick concrete. And today I knew what I needed to do. I walked down the stairs into the water and swam Blog. I swam for a full five minutes and then got scared that the ocean was going to kill me because the tide was high and water was flowing over the slick concrete and that kind of shit is just scary when you’re literally from the geographic center of North America, ok? Besides I needed to write my morning pages for the Artist’s Way even though by this time it was the afternoon. Whatever, Julia Cameron. I’m giving it my best shot.

The ocean can do things like DEVOUR CONCRETE STAIRS. Beware. Photo by Sam Veldhouse, 2013
The ocean can do things like DEVOUR CONCRETE STAIRS. Beware. Photo by Sam Veldhouse, 2013

Despite all the self deprecation, it was a successful afternoon at the beach! Until it started raining and I was forced to pack up and walk back to the casa de McSwenny. But hey! I took a sweet scenery picture because that’s what you do when you’re on vacation, right?

Where Island Meets Ocean: A Love Story.  Photo by Sam Veldhouse, 2013
Where Island Meets Ocean: A Love Story. Photo by Sam Veldhouse, 2013

Tomorrow? I’ll probably take a picture of a cow. Get ready!



Azores Day 9:
What’s a Trip to Europe Without Some Language Barriers?

First things first Blog, when I say I’m going to take a picture of a cow, I actually take a picture of multiple cows. Case in point:

The ocean is a part of this because that’s what the cows see when I’m not standing there causing herd befuddlement and taking pictures. Photo by Sam Veldhouse, 2013
The ocean is a part of this because that’s what the cows see when I’m not standing there causing herd befuddlement and taking pictures. Photo by Sam Veldhouse, 2013

Livestock photography was just one small part of today’s excursions. I also climbed on some rocks, got afraid of the tide again, and found out Portuguese people, like every other European, pretend they don’t speak English until you try to speak their language and fail.I’ve pretty much figured out how to navigate the landscape here. There are rocks to climb, waters to swim in, and pastures to hike across. None of these things, however, have taught me how to speak Portuguese. I don’t know if there is anything in this world that can teach me how to speak Portuguese. It sounds beautiful, difficult, nonsensical, and like every single Latin-based language combined into one. Just when you think it’s like Spanish, you find out it’s more like French. Or Russian. Or none of these. And I guess the Portuguese get really offended if you try to speak Spanish to them because apparently the two have a history of not getting along. Also, I’ll reiterate, Portuguese and Spanish are two entirely different languages.I knew that fact even though I ended up speaking Spanish (poorly) today when I found myself in a tiny grocery store in search of eggs, milk, and, of course, wine. I don’t even really know Spanish, but it’s the only language that was ever even a little bit taught to me besides English. So when the two men who were lurking next to the wine started talking to me, I had nothing–I mean nothing–to say in their language. I didn’t even know how to say hello in this language (it’s ola) when I first got here. I mean, I knew how to say hello in Portuguese at the time of this interaction, but it wouldn’t have made sense. The conversation had already been initiated. Ola wasn’t going to cut it. After they kindly moved out of the way so I could look at the wine I said the only other Portuguese word I know:obrigada. They were amused by this. I decided to try and instill their help since despite this grocery store’s tininess, I couldn’t find the milk. I had seen the word milk in Portuguese when Carly and I were at Biscoitos the other day. I remembered it was pretty much like the Spanish word for milk, leche. So I just went for it. “Donde es el leche?”Shit. I was speaking (terrible) Spanish to Portuguese people. It’s like you can’t not do it.But they were nice and could tell I was trying and that’s when they pulled their European slight of hand and decided to whip out some English chops by telling me that the milk was right behind me. Of course it was. Why would it be in a refrigerator? That would make too much sense.

Beyond that, they helped me pick out some wine (from the mainland!) and ring up my things. Thanks Portuguese guys. You brought me out of my comfort zone and accepted me for the unilingual American I am. Except I was a little confused when everyone said ciaoto me as I left. So we say goodbye like Italians?

So now I guess I know three words in Portuguese: olaobrigada, and ciao (even though I already knew ciao from Italy, but whatever). Oh wait. Scratch that. I know a fourth: fodiswhich of course means fuck. Like Carly’s husband says, you’ve got to learn the swears first. I don’t know why, but it sounds like good advice so I’ll go with it.



Azores Day 10:
My Love/Hate for the Ocean Grows 

It was a perfect beach day, Blog. I perused two swimming holes; one where I “almost died” and another that has proven to be my favorite despite it being the location of where my phone was ruined the last time I was here.

Tides, man. I just can’t get over them. Photo by Sam Veldhouse, 2013
Tides, man. I just can’t get over them. Photo by Sam Veldhouse, 2013

I “almost died” because a wave knocked me back onto some rocks at the Vila Nova swimming hole pictured above. My fear of the ocean is so great, that when I see it coming for me with all its might, I am paralyzed with fear and do things like fall over on to sharp rocks and scrape my knee. To be fair, I would have been fine had the people hogging the railing let a tourist through, but alas, I was left with nothing to grab onto and thousands of gallons of water coming at me, bro. Blood was drawn, but in the end I survived. Obviously. Because I went to another swimming hole afterward.

Swimming hole #2 has a name I can’t remember and a vendetta against my phone. Photo by Sam Veldhouse, 2013
Swimming hole #2 has a name I can’t remember and a vendetta against my phone. Photo by Sam Veldhouse, 2013

Though I lost a phone that is more expensive than my car the last time I was at this locale, I have to admit it’s my favorite swimming hole on the island (so far). Sure the pictures just make it look like a bunch of concrete was poured on some rocks, but this place is the bomb. The accessible water was clear and deep today as we showed up at high tide. Kids were diving off of the high cliffs into narrow channels and Carly and I even were brave enough to jump off a ledge a few times into the really really salty (seriously is the Atlantic more salty than other salty bodies of water?) water.

When I was here in May of 2012, this was the place where Carly and I foolishly forgot about the moon’s gravitational pull on our planet’s oceans as we left our belongings on what we thought was dry ground and went off exploring all the rocks and shit that this awesome beach has to offer. After a short 15 minutes we returned to find our stuff all but washed away by the incoming tide. Turns out salt water is the absolute worst thing to happen to an iPhone and I lost all 300 pictures I had taken during my previous four days on the island.

The whole ordeal might be a little bit why I’m so thoroughly documenting my second time visiting this obscure place. Also, I doubt I’ll ever be back here again.

Well, today Carly and I made sure we stayed far away from the water with our belongings. But that didn’t stop us from drinking tiny beers and standing on a ledge with Portuguese people flying, flipping, and diving into the water all around us. Carly almost got hit by a child in a speedo. It was the best thing I witnessed all day.

That’s all for today. I’ve turned into a total beach bum who fears the ocean. Tomorrow should entail sewing (what?!), more Air Force fun with Thirsty Thursday, and a game called Bunko. I’m somewhat excited.



Azores Day 11:
Sewing and Spouses

All you need to know is that it was the only one left at the BX on Andersen AFB.
All you need to know is that it was the only one left at the BX on Andersen AFB.

All you need to know is that it was the only one left at the BX on Andersen AFB.Today was a day in, Blog. It was rainy on the island and I’ve beached enough over the past couple days to where a break was warranted. This means that Carly and I were able to get some sewing done. And by Carly and I, I mean Carly made some shirts of mine fit better than they did before. In particular, this gem of a wardrobe piece that my sister in law got me from Guam:

I don’t know if I should be embarrassed or flattered that she thought of me when she saw it, but it’s so ridiculous that I love it. However before I rocked what I perceive to be a Guam native with some sort of Guam ruin, I was sure to make the most of the scraps Carly was creating as she trimmed down my collection of giant t-shirts. With that Blog, I present to you the one and only “sleeveshirt”:

Whoa. It looks trashy. Probably because it’s made only of sleeves.
Whoa. It looks trashy. Probably because it’s made only of sleeves.

As much as I wanted to wear ”sleeveshirt” to the Spouse Club get together that happened this evening, I opted for my sweet Guam garment instead. Spouse Club is a thing where a rousing game of Bunko and some delish turkey sandwiches made for an evening well spent. I mingled with ladies who married into the military and was further convinced that being a military spouse is not the life for me. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have a good time hanging out with them. There was wine and dice. What more could a guest at Spouse Club ask for? Awesome friends from college? Well ok.

Tomorrow I make my Azorian debut at Praia Rock. Sergio was kind enough to give me a few minutes to play some erotic bluegrass music by way of Courtney McClean and the Dirty Curls before the main act goes on. Of course I announced it at Spouses Club when they all asked me to stand and introduce myself before we started rolling the Bunko di. If anything, I’ll have my Bemidji alums in the audience along with whatever other random airmen show up. Here’s to hoping my diligence in blogging continues so details are shared tomorrow evening.



Azores Day 12:
Praia Rocked Out

Blog, I’m tired. But it’s good. I played Dirty Curls songs at Praia Rock and they loved it. Court, you’re a genius. Carly, you’re awesomely supportive. Me? I’m tired and intoxicated and amazed that I hung out with a couple ladies from VALLEY CITY NORTH DAKOTA tonight. Just when you think you’re isolated in the ocean… you’re not.There are many pictures, but not in my possession. I will find them Blog. I will find them and post them and caption them. Until then, good night.



 

Azores Day 13:
A Disjointed Recap of the Last 27 Hours

Blog, it’s the weekend and that means I’ve been doing some drunk writing lately. Last night I had a great time opening for Tommy and the Time Machine at Praia Rock Café with someDirty Curls songs. Turns out Air Force people really like erotic bluegrass music. It felt good to get up and play in front of a (small) audience, but strange to be up there alone playing Court’s awesome songs. They loved it though and there was even a Portuguese woman who wanted to take a look at the words to Suck a Ring. Low level international fame, here we come!

Carly was a documenting beast with her camera and snapped a few shots of my set along with me accepting an invitation to join backing up the main act themselves. I’m not used to rocking out so hardcore, so I kind of stood there for awhile with a drink. Worth it.

Pedro knows what he’s doing. I do not.
Pedro knows what he’s doing. I do not.

But I think the Dirty Curls might have a few new fans on the island which is exciting. Also, there were kids in the audience. What is it with foreign countries that always attracts children to dirty comedy music audiences? At least here they didn’t get upset about it. Portugal: 1, Mexico: 0.

I’m tired, otherwise I’d explain that scoreboard more. Frankly, there’s not much more to say. Today Carly and I did some shopping in Praia and then we went out to eat at this restaurant called La Barca where I guess we were in the presence of some famous DJ (European I’m sure, so don’t get too excited). Then we tried our hand at attending Vila Nova’s summer festival but were discouraged when it started getting late and nothing seemed to be happening except for sporadic cannon bursts and random flag ceremonies.

My bored list of today’s activities is indicating I need to go to bed. I’m still loving it here and am glad I have a week left. Also, I haven’t been down to the ocean for a few days and it’s a little weird. OMG. I’m becoming an islander. However…

“I feel naked without Courtney. Where is my comfort banjo?”
“I feel naked without Courtney. Where is my comfort banjo?”


Azores Day 14:
If Only Technology were as Fun as Quatro Ribeiras

Just another day on the island, Blog! I’ve been here for two weeks and I have an entire week left before I fly back to my inland life in Minneapolis. It’s odd how I felt more homesick when I was touring North Carolina than since I’ve been here. Maybe because The South was a place that was supposed to be home (as in USA home) but wasn’t? Europe is Europe and it’s not like the States really at all so maybe it’s just easier to be distracted by the difference instead of try to fit in with it. I don’t know. I don’t really care either. I’m happy here but miss home like anyone would. So it goes on vacation.Today Carly and I went to Quatro Ribeiras which is the swimming hole that took my phone the last time I was here but is also easily one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. I love it there and took tons of pictures a safe distance from the ocean so as not to ruin my phone again. I also made an annoying amount of Vine videos that I for the life of me cannot figure out how to embed into you Blog. So I’m going to be chintzy about it and link to the embedding page so you can further witness how there are no rules in Europe. Take it for your own and embed it elsewhere if you wish. I give up on technology.With that, my battery is dying due to my excessive failure at said technology. If Casey McKinney knows anything about anything, it’s that making North American power outlets available in this Portuguese home is nothing short of a miracle. Basically I’m too lazy to go to the living room to plug in my computer. So all you get is some pictures of the best swimming hole in the world, Blog. (That statement may be a little biased, but seriously, look at this place)

This is where you can access the cool and salty waters that are home to poisonous jelly fish!
This is where you can access the cool and salty waters that are home to poisonous jelly fish! Photo by Sam Veldhouse, 2013
This is where you look the ocean straight into its eyes of death as it lunges towards you. Carly is fearless and, as always, appropriately protected from the sun.
This is where you look the ocean straight into its eyes of death as it lunges towards you. Carly is fearless and, as always, appropriately protected from the sun. Photo by Sam Veldhouse, 2013
This is a dude diving into water that is questionably deep enough for diving from such heights. No rules.
This is a dude diving into water that is questionably deep enough for diving from such heights. No rules. Photo by Sam Veldhouse, 2013
This is the best place ever.
This is the best place ever. photo by Sam Veldhouse, 2013

One more thing, Blog. I had dinner tonight with friends and it was the best. Megan and Dale and Carly are wonderful ladies. And I even learned the most effective way to make a hand print in the sand from Megan’s daughter Charlie. Did I take a picture of this loveliness? Of course not. I only document rocks and water these days.




11906350_1490144624615609_112073370_nSamantha Veldhouse is a writer and actor working in Minneapolis. Originally from Finley, ND, her high school graduation consisted of 15 people.  She loves cats.  She probably has one of those weird brain parasites that mice give cats, that cats give to people and make people do their cat-bidding.  Playing make-believe postman as a child, her brother would “live” in the tree house, and she would come by with the mail (i.e. rocks) and “deliver” said “mail” by throwing rocks at her brother. They get along better now. Find Sam and blog at  In the Veldhouse: Blog and Sam, documenting life.

4 Replies to “guest post: week two in the azores”

    1. Sam is also from North Dakota, so she grew up in a small rural–very not by the ocean place, like I did (being also from Havre) and we are both amazed here. I just love it. It will be hard to leave.

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