Saturday August 9, 2014
Did you know that when we checked into Horta this week, we were the 1,000th boat to pass through? They decided to throw a party in our honor, Semana do Mar, or Sea Week. Eight days of celebrating just for lil’ ol’ Serenipity’s crossing. No, I’m just playing. Yes, there is something called Sea Week, and yes, it did happen to be going on when we got here, but it was no way in honor of us. (Although we truly were the 1,000th boat of the year….so the man at the marina told me.)
The tradition of Sea Week began back in 1975 geared towards yachtman, but is now a big tourist draw between all the Azorean islands and even folks from the mainland. It is always held between the first and second Sundays of August, which is great news for us because we thought it was soley the first weekend of August and that we’d just missed it. Luckily that was not the case, and even after we pulled in after our multiple weeks at sea after leaving Bermuda, things were in full swing, current American music blasting from speakers lining the street as we covered the mainsail and began throwing out fenders. Let’s just hope that everyone was already tipsy enough that they didn’t notice our dock line debacle as we were just hundreds of feet from the marina office.
I am just a little bit disappointed that we weren’t here to experience the whole thing, because the open ceremonies sound pretty cool. Here’s a little description taken from The Azores Islands Blog. Following the official opening of the event, a Mass is celebrated in the chapel of Our Lady of Guia, on top of the hill of the same name and the image is then transported by boats in the Nautical Procession, passing through Porto Pim Beach, entering the Horta Harbour and disembarking in the Santa Cruz quay. The image is then carried in procession to the Church of Angústias under the alert gaze of the people with houses along the route, who exhibit their valuable mattresses out of the windows of the upper floors. Sounds pretty cool, right?
There was still plenty to keep us entertained though, even though we’d arrived half way through the celebrations. Most of our interest was focused on the nightly events, although all the nautical competitions are held during the day. This includes a full list of things ranging from the typical yacht races (Regattas of the Channel; of the Mermaids; of the Former Participants; and of the Horta trophy) down to things like a Horta to Porto Pim canoe race, swimming across the harbor competition, and even water polo. I um, may not have researched these awesome sounding events until they were already over. Ooops. Now you can see why we were focused on the evening activities.
Each night so far we’ve wandered out, still on East Coast time, which seems to be perfect because it fits perfectly into European lifestyles. Music groups start at at the big stage around 10 pm, and last until 3 in the morning. Even little kids are wandering the streets with their parents until well after midnight.
During these nights we break up our time between watching shows of traditional music and dance at the little park situated across from the marina, browsing the crafts sold by locals and gypsies, although honestly, half of it looks like the $1 junk made in China and breaks after three uses. Loooots of cheap plastic toys for kids. There are also tables set up with jewelry and knickknacks made from whale bones and other stones and jems. Then we’ll usually grab a 1€ sangria and sit on the sea wall, doing a bit of people watching until something starts on the main stage, or we find ourselves in bed a little too early because we still haven’t gotten over our exhaustion of 29 days of sleeping in 4 hour shifts.
Last night though, the best thing in the world happened. Not only had we met up with two other young cruisers to wander around with, always fun to hang out with people around our age, but after milling around the large stage and listening to a band that I think is popular in mainland Portugal, they brought a DJ up on stage to start playing electronic music for the rest of the night. We l-o-v-e electronic music. We’ve been listening to DJ Tiesto since he first came on the scene over a decade ago. One of the best parts of being in Miami was getting an electronic station on the radio, something that is very hard to do, and we’re normally left trying to download new music through A State of Trance.
Breaking to the front of the crowd, we literally rushed the gate as we began jumping up and down and pumping our hands in the air. Being outside, a light rainy mist fell on us and caught the lights that pulsed out through the crowds. It was honestly like a scene out of a music video, and possibly one that we looked ten years too old to be a part of. Behind us I’m sure the adolescent crowd wondered what these old people were doing, but we couldn’t have cared less. At least we weren’t as bad as the guy next to us. Late 30′s, semi bald, bearded face, wearing glasses and a skin tight leotard and doing the robot. Does seeing that mean that we’ve officially arrived in Europe?