One of the reasons why I wrote this blog post for Huffington Post was that I had recently reconnected with my homeland, after a five-day short trip to Flores and Corvo. Previously that year, I had published one blog post for each one of the nine islands to showcase their unique personality and vibe – I had grown tired of hearing people talk about the Azores like a cluster when I knew all islands were different from one another. And the Azores deserve to be shown for all the things you can do, not just for what they’re known for.
Obviously, no one can deny the beauty of the nearly untouched natural landscape. That is one of the main reasons why people travel to the Azores and we acknowledge that, for an outsider, it is a pretty spectacular motive to hop on a plane to a secluded destination in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean.
Most of you probably don’t know this, but, in general, the Azoreans are incredibly creative. Part of it might be genetic, and part of it might be due to the make-do personality islanders are forced to develop. I have always been curious to find out if it’s the Azores’ nature that influences and guides the artist, or if it’s the artist that uses nature as inspiration. In fact, it might not be any of these.
Over four years, the Azores Fringe Festival – organized by Canadian-born Terry Costa – managed to bring to the islands over 850 artists from 38 countries. Although born abroad, Terry lived in Pico island from ages 2 to 14 – this isn’t much different from the reality of most of the islanders who were born in the archipelago and left as teenagers to the mainland. We are “outside islanders”; rootless but not quite foreigners.
But why on earth would someone come up with an arts festival that, literally, hops between islands for six weeks before the tourist high season? I’d say because the Azores are not a huge vacation resort that only opens for business from June to September (you’d be surprised how many people email me asking about tips on things to do in the rest of the year). To say that I’m incredibly curious to see a little of the 5th edition of this festival in action is an understatement.
I’m a firm believer that if you want things to happen, you have to make them happen. However, I feel like most people have a biased image of the Portuguese (and I’ll include the Azoreans in the mix) as lazy folks who are always mourning something or complaining about fate or lingering in the past. As much as it might seem quirky to portray us like that, that’s not how the story goes anymore.
Tourism is an important industry on the Azores, but there is so much more that the Islanders want you to see (and it doesn’t always include what the tourism boards think you should see). If you read part one and part two of my series “The Azores, a Tale of Three Returns” (the third part will be published soon), you’ll see what I’m talking about.