Maria, Terceira Island, Azores
Interview conducted in the Marina of Praia da Vitória
Different times are upon us. Maria was the final person I interviewed about how the changing world is impacting communities prior to leaving the Azores in December of 2019. Maria is a boisterous individual. The type of person with a positive energy that is infectious. I am beginning to miss interacting with people. Since interviewing people is not compatible with social distancing I have decided to start interviewing people remotely. I’ve didn’t publish this interview as I was hoping for a better picture. One of the idiosyncrasies of the software I’m using to manage this website is that it tends to crop the top of picture on selected platforms. I hope folks can see her smile.
I hope been aboard the R Heritage Too for almost two week. Like most of the world, social distancing is encouraged. Boat are small places which feel even more confined when your freedom of movement is limited. There is plenty to do to keep in in “Bristol Fashion” so i pick away at projects. Scrubbing, painting, cataloging and repairing occupy much of my day. Learning Spanish is keep my braining busy but I find myself needing some sort of human outlet. If you are following this page and interested, please feel free to reach out. I would be happy to share your thought and concerns about our sometimes crazy but always beautiful changing world.
What is your favorite part of living in Praia da Vitória?
It is my home. My husband is in the Navy and I have lived all over the world and now I am back. I am proud that this town is home to the US 65th air base wing. I work as a beach supervisor here and I love my town’s marina and beach. The beach has 7 blue flags which means it is very safe.
What is your least favorite part of living in Praia da Vitória?
I love animals but people in the Azores don’t treat pets like they do in some of the other places I have lived. There are many abandoned dogs at cats here. I am always looking for people to help fund my efforts to feed them. I also don’t like how they abuse the bulls here. They call it culture but I call it animal cruelty.
I also do not like how the government deals with addicts here. Heroin addiction is a problem here and we provide them with food, housing and methadone for an indefinite amount of time. Continually feeding them methadone is not treatment.
Do you see the changes in the natural world where you live?
The weather seems to be more crazy. We get 4 seasons in one day. There also seems to be a some changes to the ocean. We have a lot of Portuguese man-o-war jellyfish this last year. I think there are more because there are less turtles which are one of the things that eat them. There were quite a few red flag warnings which meant people can’t swim.
Can you give me an example of something you are doing to make the planet better?
My passion is helping animals and the environment. In addition to the efforts to feed abandoned animals I spend a lot of time in the summer educating people not to throw away plastics. There is a program where we collect plastic bottle tops and we pool them together. We were able to get a wheelchair for a lady who needed one using this program. It is important that people know not to throw these or cigarette butts into the ocean.
Is there anything you would like to ask or tell me?
Yes. My favorite food is alcatra, it is a Portuguese dish slowly cooked in a clay pot. You should try it. Also let people know about what they do to bulls here. If anybody wants to help feed the dogs and cats of the island have them contact me on Facebook. Maria Wilson in Praia da Vitória.
The last week in Praia da Vitória has focus on the R Heritage Too. We have moved her to a more secure dock, repaired teak, reorganized the ship and donated excess supplies. It took me nearly a month of our almost 3 month stay in the Azores to slow down and become accustom to a different pace of life. I find myself fretting more about returning back to the US and am certain the transition not seem natural. I worry more how long it will take to re acclimate to the natural rhythm of Azorean life upon my return.
I published this interview in a changed world months after conducting it. Even though I had been in the Azores for weeks I had not seen Maria in the harbor. She was hard to miss in the fall. The very next day I encountered her smiling face. We gave each other “air hugs.” A new experience to me. Not as good a real human contact but we must adapt to the crisis that is Covid-19. Maria continued to be very concerned about the animals on the island. Funding and food for feeding strays was becoming more difficult to find. I normally don’t give out my hard earned money but I’ve a soft spot for animals. I’ve a feeling that the captain Bruce’s wife Judy would be proud.