July 3, 2014

Day 2: Ponta Delgada

Today Emanuel arranged a meeting for me with Duarte Melo, the director of the museum where she works. Very nice guy, open and friendly. He is also a priest. I tried to explain what I'm doing in my remedial Portuguese, Emanuel helped translate, we spoke some Spanish to fill in the gaps, and it felt like it was a good meeting. He seems interested in the project, encouraging, might not be able to present it at his museum but had ideas for other places and offered to help me make connections if I want to present the finished work here in the future.

Emanuel took me to lunch in the cafeteria at the library, which is good and cheap. There was also a good exhibit there of cast iron book sculptures by an artist named Ricardo Lalanda.

Then I walked around town some more, just exploring. The Museu Carlos Machado has several buildings, one of which is an amazing 16th century church that has a very good collection of religious art. Their main building is currently closed for renovations, but there was an interesting show in their smaller space of curated pieces from their collection, including this famous painting (relevant to my research) and this incredibly beautiful tool (also relevant, now that I think of it). Hard to tell from the photo, but in person it just killed me. Beautifully rusted iron blade, and handle worn from many hands and years of use, with a coin nailed onto the end of the handle.

There are many bell towers here, which of course I love. I managed to climb the one in the Camara Municipal, built in 1724, which offers a fine view of a couple of others.

Made some recordings in a botanical park of kids playing and birds. Really good birds here, though I don’t know names, but they make great sounds.

In the evening Emanuel invited me for a dinner with some friends of hers at a seafood place in a small village on the north coast, east of Ribeira Grande. All very friendly, smart, and interesting folks: João and Diana, a couple from here who are involved with music and literature and theater, and another couple visiting from Lisbon, Luisa and Zé Miguel. The food was terrific: a fish soup, limpets with rice and veggies, fava beans, fish stew with four different kinds of fish (no idea what), hot bread, pastries, and a few bottles of wine. Everyone made a point of speaking English on my behalf, which I appreciated, although I was happy when they spoke Portuguese. I can pick out a few words here and there and piece together the basics, and don’t really mind that I miss a lot and have only a vague (often completely wrong) notion of what is being said. Listening is learning.