Friday, October 20, 2017

azores is portugese for yum!

The last time I visited The Azores was in 2012.

So says my blog (squares in the atlantic). Roy and I were trying to figure out when we were last here. Neither of us did very well at guessing. All I could recall is that I had written a piece on graffiti.

And there we have another reason for this blog's existence. It acts as a journal. The downside is that once I write an essay, the memory itself fades away.

Maybe not this trip.

We sailed out of Copenhagen on Sunday. It is now Friday and I have written nothing in those five days because I have been thoroughly enjoying traveling with my four compatriots.

The common thread in our travel group is Reno. We either have residences there or work connections. I travel often with Roy and Nancy. Karen and Sophie (who have worked with Nancy) are new to me as travel companions.

All of the days when I have not written have been sea days. I have chosen to relax. As a result, I have fallen way behind in reading my newspapers and magazines. But the world is going on just fine without me sticking my nose into its business.

Today was our first of two landfalls. As you have already guessed, we were in The Azores today. A set of islands in the midst of the Atlantic that are part of Portugal. Ponta Delgada to be exact. The administrative capital of the island group.

Like most provincial capitals, Ponta Delgada has retained a aura of another time.

The classic architectural style is white walls framed with black basalt rock. The Azoreans come by the basalt easily. Their islands are the tips of volcanoes that have peaked their way out of the sea.

The port call was brief. Just a few hours. But, it was time enough for Nancy, Roy, and me to re-acquaint ourselves with Ponta Delgada's waterfront.

Maybe this was true on our last visit, but none of us remembered the prices in The Azores being so reasonable. Groceries. Drinks and food in restaurants. Cheese at the port. All were extremely reasonable.

After Copenhagen's prices (a direct result of its high taxation to finance its government services), anything might have seemed reasonable. But the prices in Ponta Delgada were low in absolute terms.

I shot this photograph because of the building on the right. It had a far different mural when we were here five years ago. Coincidentally, later that afternoon, we ended up having lunch in the restaurant on the far left.

It was one of those random choices that has created a memory that will last as long as it takes for me to finish this essay. Possibly one of the best meals I have had in a long time. Even though I went there in search of sardine pate and found none.

That is a bit ironic because the last meal I remember enjoying that much was a scabbard fish plate in Madeira (a shot of madeira)-- Portugal's other island autonomous region. And that was with Nancy and Roy, as well.

Today the dish was arroz con mariscos. And it is the same in Spanish and Portugese. Rice with seafood.

But the name did not do it justice. The seafood was prawns, clams, and mussels. All in their original houses.

The only surprise is that it was not a dry dish. It included a broth that made it akin to bouillabaisse or ciopino. But far better.

The photograph is not my meal. I ate mine so fast that the camera cap did not even come off. Instead, I relied on the kindness of our ship officers who had the table next to us.

It was the only meal on this trip where all five of us agreed that we had made a good choice. Having said that, mine was unquestionably the best.

One rule of Mexpatriate is that I get to be the narrator; I do not appear in person. Today, there will be an exception -- I am taking center stage.

It will be nice to look back on what will be one of my best moments in life. This will remind me.


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