Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Where in the world are we?

For mom and any others who want to know the details of where we currently are, here is a map of the Azores. We are headed from Sao Miguel to Pico tomorrow. We hope to spend a week visiting the Central Group of Islands, including Faial, Pico, Sao Jorge and possibly a stop in Terceira. To get an idea of how far away things are, it takes three and a half hours by boat to go from Santa Maria to Sao Miguel. We are flying to Faial from Sao Miguel, and then taking boats to the other islands. It takes about 8 hours to go from Sao Jorge to Sao Miguel. Hope we don´t get seasick!

We got youth cards (carte jovem) , for 48 euros each, which allow us to travel by boat (Atlantico Line) for one euro per journey. It´s so cheap! We also get a youth discount on our airline tickets from SATA, 50% off. If you´re under 25, the Azores is a great place to travel.

Check out flights:
More info on boats and youth cards to come.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Senhor Santo Cristo

In the center of PONTA DELGADA, the main city of Sao Miguel, there is a convent which houses the Senhor Santo Cristo. Decked out in gold embroidered robes, the Senhor is a wooden image of Jesus Christ. I was told that the legend behind the Santo Cristo is that it appeared miraculously at a convent in Caloura. Pirates allegedly stole the statue from Caloura and brought it to a convent in Ponta Delgada. I´ve read online that the statue was given to two nuns by the Pope and that it was moved by the nuns to the convent in the capital to keep it safe from raiders.

To this day there are festivals held to venerate the statue. Duarte was telling me that they parade the statue around the city in a huge procession. Older women, who are praying for their relatives to leave purgatory and ascend to heaven, will carry heavy candles. The heavier the candle, the greater the burden for their loved ones to reach paradise. Some women walk the procession on their knees as they see greater suffering as a way to make a stronger plea to God. Many people believe that the statue itself has power to do miracles.

Every day the statue is available to the public for a short amount of time. Many people come to pray and to venerate the statue. People also make embroidered robes and golden accessories for the statue to wear during the feast which celebrates it.

For more history see here:

Lagoa do Fogo - The Lake of Fire!

Today we visited the Lake of Fire, but it doesn´t look quite like what is described in the book of Revelation. The Lagoa do Fogo is a beautiful lagoon that was formed in a crater of the volcano that formed the island of Sao Miguel. It was really cloudy today so we had trouble seeing views of the lake, but you can see a little bit of it here.

The fog was so thick it was hard to see ahead

Friday, June 08, 2007

The Western Circuit of Sao Miguel

Thursday we drove around the western part of Saint Michael with Duarte´s cousins. We saw some calderas, where the smoke comes out of the ground, and some beautiful views. All the islands in the archipelago were formed from volcanoes. More photos on Facebook.
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The North West point of Sao Miguel

Duarte at the Calderas, see the smoke rising? The sulfur smell was SO strong.


Flight into Sao Miguel (Saint Michael)

Here´s a photo I took from the window as we were flying into Sao Miguel. This is the island where Duarte was born and spent his early years.

And finally, after years of trying to take pictures of clouds out the window of a plane, some that turned out nice!

See more photos on Facebook-~

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Arrival in Ponta Delgada, Portugal

We arrived this morning in the Azores to a beautiful blue sky and a great panoramic view of Saint Michael (San Miguel). I had horrible pain in my ears during the descent, but that didn´t stop me from snapping pics of the cliffside cities and the volcanic landscape. We´ll post pics soon! We won´t have net access all the time during the month of June, but I´ll be sure to journal and post when I can.

I´m studying my Beginner´s Portuguese but since I only got through greetings and introductions I´m still doing a lot of smiling and nodding. I keep having to stop myself from speaking in Urdu, since my foreign language mode is on but it´s definitely not in Portuguese yet.

Adeus! Ate a proxima.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

So I paid $32 for white out!

So I arrived at Duarte's parents house, where I'd had the passport sent, to see that the Consualte "fixed" my visa by whiting out "Visit" and putting "NGO" on top of it. Last time I applied for a visa, they also made a mistake in the amount of time I was allowed to stay in the country. They whited it out and changed it. I went through some trouble with security due to this change. I was thinking, if it was just going to be changed with white out, I could have done that at home!

To their credit, what they did was put a small stamp of the consulate next to the correction. Unfortunately in Pakistan none of the authorities I had to deal with were aware of this practice. Oh well, at least the stamps are there and I have a copy of my NGO visa permission letter. If anyone questions it, I'll just suggest that they call the Pakistani Consualte in NY to check my status.

In other news, Duare and I are leaving soon for the Azores. Apparently we are travelling on the same flight as the Azorean president. Duarte's dad is in charge of brining the president and his entourage to the airport. So I think we'll be travelling with them. Fun!

Friday, June 01, 2007

$32 later, my visa is fixed

Last week saturday when I received my visa back from the Pakistani Consulate it had been designated as a visit visa and not an NGO visa. This would mean that I would be unable to work in Pakistan. I had received special permission from the Ministry of Interior in Islamabad to get the NGO visa, so after waiting through the long weekend I called the consulate and express mailed it back to them. Since we were leaving the country in a few days, I had to pay $32 for express mail! Well, in this case it was worth it. My passport left Amherst, MA on Tuesday, arrived in New York on Wednesday, and made it back to Fall River, MA on thursday with the correct visa.