We reached Santa Maria island by late afternoon after having had a very short stop-over at São Miguel island international airport. I could hardly recognise the airport where sometime ago I had worked at.
We were given a car so that we could freely move about the island and particularly from and to the airport premises where we would be working for the next three days. We soon headed towards Colombo Hotel I had never been at for the simple reason that it had not been constructed yet when I was on the island for working purposes almost ten years before.
The hotel room was quite huge and the following morning I felt tempted to see what kind of view I had from my balcony. Not surprisingly I could see the Airport Control tower in the distance and part of Vila do Porto.
As I was waiting for my colleagues to come down for breakfast I wandered about the hotel lounge where I came across a painting on the Holy Spirit festivities and underneath it a fairly complete explanation of what they are about and represent for the Azorean people.
Having got to NAV fairly early I once again wandered about the lounge where quite a few tiles, which covered the walls of a small waiting room caught my attention. I soon realised that apart from representing someof the important aspects of the island they had been designed by primary school children of the local School.
I found them to be very interesting and equally interesting the idea of valuing the local children's creativity and personal perspective on the things which are worth being referred to on the island.
After work and because my colleagues still had additional work to do I decided to walk into the central part of Vila do Porto, where within just a few metres I came across a few churches and chapels. Religiousness is very strong and that could also be seen in the way the churches were taken care of.
As I walked towards the old fishing harbour so as to visit the Fort of São Bras I came across quite a few old fountains and for a few seconds I was taken back in time just reminding myself that Santa Maria was in fact according to many historians the first Azorean island to be discovered and also the first to be inhabited.
Having been built in the sixteenth century still under the dominion of Filipes it was used as a defence against the constant piracy and privateering actions, of which the Castillian (1480), French (1576), British (1589) and Algerian (1616) incursions ought to be highlighted.
The heat was almost unbearable so I decided to make my way up through the village again and head towards the hotel, a little further on, in what turned out to be half an hour walk.
A few things caught my attention, from a rather exquisite door to the almost perfect "marriage" of old and recent architecture ... rural and urban features ... within the same convivial space ... I must say i was impressed.
As I reached the hotel I didn't resist the "appeal" of its swimming pool, where I stayed till my colleagues came back from work ...
(To be continued)