July 7, 2014

Day 6: Horta, Faial

Had a farewell lunch with Emanuel at the library, where we ran into her daughter and João and Diana, so I had a chance to properly say goodbye to them. Then Gianna de Toni (improvising bass player and classical guitarist from the party the other night, who also plays in Rafael Carvalho's band) gave me a lift to the airport to catch my flight to Faial. So I left São Miguel with very fond memories of new friends, and headed into the next phase, where I expect I will be more on my own. Márcia Dutra, my main contact at the Observatório do Mar dos Açores (Oceanic Observatory of the Azores, aka OMA), is in the US right now, and won’t be back until I am almost ready to leave. So I'm a little worried about making contacts and getting things done here.

Otherwise I'm very happy to be back on Faial, which I visited briefly in 2011 and loved. My first stop after checking into the hotel in the main town of Horta was dinner at Casa Chá & Bar, a tea house and bar that is truly one of my favorite places to eat in the world. In fact, I chose the hotel largely because it is within easy stumbling distance of Casa. It's run by brothers Eugenio and Antonio and their mother Maria, all very nice people who I think of as friends even though I barely know them. Everything is done with real care and attention. The space and walled garden are lovely, the food is simple and light but very high quality, local, and thoughtfully prepared and presented. A really nice place but totally unpretentious, it's an oasis of quiet off the beaten path. And they play great music. And there are cats. It really does feel like home, and if I lived here I'd probably eat here every day. Antonio told me that their new brochure is getting printed this week and they used this photo that I took when I was here before and posted on Facebook. I am of course beyond flattered.

After dinner I walked around a bit, watched a dramatic sunset at play on Pico across the channel, and enjoyed listening to a community chorus that was rehearsing in the building next door to where I am staying. I didn't recognize any of the tunes except "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina," but it sounded good bouncing off the walls of the buildings across from my open windows. I am staying at A Casa do Lado, which seems to be run according to a similar philosophy as Casa. The design is simple but elegant, and the breakfast is great, with home made yogurt and bread and jam along with fresh fruit and cereal and cheese. I think this will be a fine place for me to be for the coming week. I'm again in a room facing the street, but it's quieter at night here than in Ponta Delgada, so a bit easier to sleep — except roosters!