Logbook Tres Hombres (May 6, 2012)
DATE:mAY 6TH 2012 GMT: 12.18 POS: 38.56 N, 26.00 W COG: 080 SOG: 3 KTS
GENERAL SYNOPSIS: ON BOARD THE TRES HOMBRES
SEA TEMP: 16.7
The story of a trainee's stay on the island of Faial in the Azores.... a fantasy in three parts
Part 1, Arrival. by Charlie, trainee a/b
First, and almost most strange, a confession that approaching this archipelago mid-Atlantic after three weeks out from the Caribbean I fall into poor spirits. Unable to account for this, for after all the journey had been interesting and fun, but not so much to give one an aversion to land... but all the same when the officers threw a party on deck to celebrate our land-fall I hide in my bunk, and hope my absence is not noticed. But Mott, Elise, Taeo, Piet, Anna, Dirk all sweetly come to tell me the pizza is cooling and the beers getting warm... I don't get it, but I come up, puzzled by my reaction, and begin to enjoy myself. And the next morning me and Mott, the great friend I came on board with, go ashore.... the little town of Horta is beautiful... crisp and elegant and o how beautiful. Wanting to explore the hills inland we stick out our thumbs and are offered a lift.... a kind, interesting young native drives us to her village, Pedro Miguel. Mott and I take a glass of wine at the bar next to the ruined church, nod our heads at the cluster of farmers at their Sunday refreshment - climb the little road towards the hills. It is like Ireland, it is like the high meadows of Switzerland where Francois lives... small fields, small farms, beautiful animals, dairies and flowers everywhere. Especially wild mint and ginger and arum lilies big as the dome of St. Pauls. It dawns on me that it isn't land hunger or land-deprivation which makes the island seem so, but that the island is very beautiful.
Then, over the next few days the people come to see the boat. Many great people. First Albino, an architect, amazing spirit. Raised in Porto he launched his adult life with a series of travels, and then began his training as an architect. Working on his thesis, reading and studying Le Corbusier he was visited with a sort of revelation. Now, in his thirties or forties, he is become a sort of island elder. Impish, ingenious, one day in his life seems to contain as much stimulation and discovery as most people expect to assemble an average year.
Albino puts himself at the service of the boat, its captain and crew. He drives to the shops, the bottled gas station.... being a sort of ship's boy myself I do not know a fraction of all he does for us but for three or four days he gives himself entirely to our business, and more... he brings his friends....
The captain hosts a party and Albino brings the guests... from this moment on we are honoured wherever we go... I am introduced to and honoured to make the acquaintance of a man called Journinho (I think, I hope I remember his name) born a fisherman on Pico, the tenth Portuguese to have circumnavigated the globe alone, twice, he comes to meet us wearing his best suit and in his buttonhole the sweet, delicate decoration bestowed on him by the Infanta - he is a fine man. Then I meet Julien, four year old son of Thomas and Aurora, who speaks to me in English with all the gravity and correctness of an old gentleman of the old school -"I am very well, thank you, Charlie. And are you well?" Eva and Mirko, married young Italian marine biologists who both work for the University of the Azores, their friend from Italy... (from this evening on lively, sharp, young Portuguese student marine biologists swarm over the boat daily like mice, asking questions, craning their necks in admiration of the rigging and the lines, inspecting the cargo, sampling the chocolate, inviting us to all the events on the island).
I spend the next evening - the 25th - Portuguese National Day in the town's main square. I make friends of a man whose name I never discover. We make baskets and drink wine together, wink and pat each other's shoulder. My friend is like Zorba, with such a life in his eyes... I want to buy one of his beautiful baskets and take it home, but he doesn't seem to understand, and gives his prize away to a charming friend who walks around the square talking to the sparrows.
Arriving in such an admirable boat is surely the best way to discover a country. The most observant and interesting of the islanders come to you and draw you into their lives. Also Faial is truly a great and fascinating island so that many many young people have come to live and work in recent years.
Our friends and especially Albino introduce us to the life of the island.... It is not just the captain who is a merchant venturer... I am a shop owner myself, and I return to my business life in a few weeks time with a thousand ideas and addresses tucked into my pockets.....
from the foc'sle.
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