Peter (71) , Faial Island, Azores
Interview conducted in Praia do Norte, Faial, Azores
This day the crew made a conscience effort to buy locally and visited my favorite bakery on the island, Bico Doce, to purchase some fresh bread and the spectacular Portuguese sweets. To complement the bread we stopped at CALF, the dairy farmers cooperative on the island, to stock up on wheels of cheese. The black sand beach on Praia do Norte was close and drew us back. At the playground there we saw a man and his wife, grandparents, proudly playing with a child in the park. They beamed with pride as we told them how cute their grandson was. In the more remote parts of the island older English speakers are rare. Peter was an exception. I’ve begun to notice folks of his generation like to take the conversation where it pleases them and structured interviews are less common. His words follow.
Where did you learn to speak English?
I lived in America for 15 years. I was in the Army when I was 20 and served in Angola for two years. I had a younger brother and my father decided he did not want to chance another son at war so he moved us to all to America. I lived in New Jersey.
Did you like living in America?
I knew within two weeks that America was not for me. I still have family that lives there and loves America but my brother and sister moved back. My younger brother ended up joining the Marines and my father was beside himself since he moved us there to avoid wars. My brother served in the American military for 4 years.
I felt trapped there since I did not have enough money to move back and I worked as a polisher. After working at the company for many years the boss encouraged me to go to school since I only had my Portuguese Army training. At first I managed 20 people, then it was 40 people, and finally 60. It was always more work. There was too much pressure to work. It came fro both the boss and from the culture there. One must always make more money. I got caught up in it and was working sometimes 70 hours a week. After 15 years, the stress was too much and I was not able to sleep. One day I woke up and had had enough. I told my wife were are moving back to my country, no to my island, here on Faial.
What is your least favorite part of living in Faial?
I do not like seeing all these big houses coming in. They have air conditioners, heaters, large decorative fireplaces. It isn’t how we live in the Azores. We should remember our culture. You don’t really need them here. You do not need all that space either. I have a small house and the only thing I have is a dehumidifier. If it gets cold I put on a sweater. People want too much now days. When I retired I made my daughter take away the computer and I just have this simple (flip) phone.
Do you see the weather changing in Faial?
Yes, we now really only have two seasons. There used to be four. It is also much more humid.
You seem to love to stay busy, what do you do now that you are retired?
I fish when the sea is nice. The other day I caught seven. I gave some to my neighbor and son-in-law. He works at the airport and also has some cows. He calls me to help sometime, but I am older now and don’t think I am much help. I think he asks me to help just to spend time with me. I have a big garden though and I plant it 3 or 4 times a year. I have orange trees, grapes, garlic, onions, and lettuces. I share them with my daughter and son-in-law.
What do you think of the tourism here?
I think it is good. Good for taxi and bus drivers. They rent cars and spend money here. They buy the food the farmers produce and fisherman catch. Most people that come here have money, the are not just backpackers like are in Europe. They come to spend money and they get to see a beautiful place. It is good for everybody.
Peter seemed happy to be living a slow pace life. Yesterday I interviewed Les at Oceanic who stated that people here now where there things come from. Peter’s passion about his garden reinforced Les’s words. Faial’s pace seems by far the fastest of the islands of the Azores I have visited so far, but it is slow in comparison to America. I am beginning to adore the social culture, the sharing foods, their love of fishing and swimming in the ocean. The transition back to the crazy pace of America might be hard but it will provide motivation and enable perspective.
Peter’s opinion on backpacking tourist’s differed from some of the other people I have interviewed on these Islands. Perhaps these are the more eco-conscience tourists that others on these islands seem eager to attract. One goal of this site is simply to document peoples opinions. If one reads the interviews there are people who are not sure that climate change is man-made. I hope to capture more of their words. Without listening to people with different view points and thinking about their perspectives we will never be able to come together and work towards common goals. Nothing is ever black or white, there is always some shade of grey.