Christina Gois, Velas, São Jorge Island, Azores
Interview conducted in Velas, Azores, Portugal
After six weeks at sea I was in need of a hair cut. In the square of the serene seaside village of Velas there was a salon with an open door. I inquired about the cost of a haircut and the answer was seven euros. Less than half the price of back home, so I scheduled an appointment. It was one of the best haircuts I have ever had. About half way through the hair cut the conversation shifted to this project, interviewing the peoples of the world about their communities and concerns. Christina was interested in participating. Her words follow.
What is your favorite part of living in Sāo Jorge?
I have a home in Lisbon and my daughter lives there, but I could never leave this island. I love the sea and am a part of the local rowing team. I steer the boat and I also have a jet ski. I spend every moment I can on the ocean.
Do you see the changes in the natural world in Velas?
Yes. The seasons are changing. We used to have 4 seasons and now there are only two. I have also noticed changes to the sea. This summer while rowing there was a very large shark circling the boat but I do not know what kind. I have spent all my life in the water and seen sharks before but never behavior like this. There was another one later this year in the harbor. I have never seen this before either.
Do you think these changes are from man’s activities?
Yes. I feel that man has some sort of role.
Can you give me an example of something you are doing to reduce your impact on the planet?
We have all started sorting our garbage here in the Azores. We also bring our own bags to the supermarket.
I Is there anything you else you would like to ask or tell me?
What is this going to be used for? Is it ok if after I see it I can respond to you in Portuguese?
I responded to Christina that I would find somebody to translate her response to me if I had any questions. From behind the barbers chair a voice chimed, “I will translate it for you.” A young man named Manuel was next in line for a haircut. They people on São Jorge are very friendly, eager to share the love of their island with visitors. It is noticeably more peaceful here and the departure from the bustle of Horta was welcome.
The appearance of large sharks nearby the shore remind me of stories I had read about sharks along the northeaster coast of the US over the summer. I’m curious if shark migration patterns are changing or if the appearance was just a statistical anomaly. If sharks are showing up in new areas, what is the reason. Food chain changes or changes in ocean currents seem like possible reasons. This prevalence of new shark species in Azorean waters is another topic I hope to follow up upon in as this project continues.