July 21, 2014

Day 20: Ponta Delgada, São Miguel

It was a little hard to say goodbye to sweet Lajes and start heading for home. But it is that time. I so enjoyed getting to know the Meireles family and friends, and my hosts César and Cidalia were exemplary as well. It was my first time on Flores but I hope it won't be my last.

I flew back to Ponta Delgada on São Miguel, and after checking into this nice little B&B I met up with my friend Emanuel. She took me to her lovely house in nearby Lagoa, where we went for a last (for me, anyway) swim in the piscina natural that was more or less right outside her garden gate.

Afterwards, we sat and chatted with her oldest daughter Julia and adorable grand-daughter Violeta and drank some herbal infusion made with something she had just pulled from her garden (lemon balm?). Then we went to pick up her youngest daughter Alice in Ribeira Grande. Finally, we had a good meal at a place just down the street from where I am staying. Emanuel was a big part of making my time in Ponta Delgada so rewarding and enjoyable, and I am so appreciative of her help and friendship. Emanuel will be moving next year to join her partner in Angola, where many Portuguese are moving to find work, and soon Julia and her family will be moving to Goa, India. As always, it seems, people have to leave the islands to find other opportunities and to expand their horizons. It's a beautiful but small place, with some definite limitations.

Tomorrow I fly home with a load of rich experiences and strong memories of all the wonderful people, beautiful places, and amazing sounds I've encountered here, along with a rather huge feeling of responsibility. Having come this far and done all of this field work, I feel an obligation to do this experience justice and make something really good out of it all. It's a bit scary because I feel like three weeks was barely enough time to scratch the surface here. Even three months would have been too brief. I know there are many elements I am missing because I simply didn't have time to wait for things to happen or to develop the kinds of relationships needed to go deeper. But I will do my best with the material I have, and hope to make something worthy of bringing back here to present and share with these people who have made my time here so fulfilling. No pressure or anything.

At the same time, it will be good to be home, to reunite with my wife and family and friends, to get back to my life, and to dig into working with this material for the next year or so. I know that as I do, the sounds I've recorded will evoke strong memories of my time here. And that will be a pleasure.