Friday, 26 June 2009

When the boat comes in - Part II

First of all, let me reassure you that Part II is the last part of "When the boat comes in".

Just before we leave the car ferry, though, the good ship Express Santorini (that's the one on charter from the Aegean - the clue's in the name) paid its first visit to Flores this summer on Monday night. I know that from having looked at the Lajes webcam.

In that screengrab from the webcam, you're going to have to take my word that the very bright lights is the ferry at the pier.

The ferry came on Monday to bring revellers to the São João festival and came back again yesterday (Thursday) to take them away again. São João is one of the two major festivals on this island (indeed it's big throughout Portugal). The whole island closes down (including schools shut) for three days. I don't know what happens during the day to justify this but, at night, there are what the Portuguese call "raves" - I think that means what we would call a disco but they're in a tent.

However I believe there are also live bands. Or perhaps I mean "a live band" singular but, whichever, our friend Harald - who saw the Rolling Stones in Nuremberg in 1979 in the same arena as where Hitler did Ein Volk! Ein Reich! in 1936 and has a ZZ-Top beard and is quite particular where rock music is concerned - was impressed. Which was nice.

São João only takes place in Santa Cruz which is a 25 minute drive from us. As I couldn't possibly imagine going to such a do without having a drink, and as taxis are as scarce as hen's teeth on this island, that means in practice we don't go: we're much too old now to spend nights on park benches or strangers' floors.

I seem to have digressed a long way from coastal shipping. So there will, after all, be a third episode of "When the boat comes in". (So I lied - dry your eyes, as we say in Scotland.) I leave you with a picture of Mick Jagger warming the audience up for "Brown Sugar":-

1 comment:

Kathie said...

The notion of Mick and the lads performing "Brown Sugar" in the same venue where that war-criminal formerly roused the rabble to frenzies of hatred does warm the cockles of my American heart!

BTW, each year Angra do Heroísmo, Terceira, holds its own 10-day-long São João (or Summer Solstice, as you prefer) celebration called the "Festas Sanjoaninas," this year on June 19-28. In acknowledgment of the solar aspect of the festival, downtown streets are brightly lit by overhead arcs of holiday lights 24/7.

I attended Sanjoaninas a few years back, so can attest that during this period comparatively little work gets accomplished by the locals (other than café- and bar-keeps, plus the lodgings industry, for whom it is a highly profitable time), although an excellent time is had by just about all.

A number of sidestreets in downtown Angra are closed to traffic for the duration of Sanjoaninas so supplemental tables and chairs can spill out from the cafés in order to accomodate crowds into the "madrugada" (wee small hours). Besides lingering for hours with friends over a cold drink (or three) at an outdoor café, when there are no other scheduled activities one can also leisurely promenade along the streets, greeting relatives and friends of similar inclination.

My favorite part of all is the Sanjoaninas parades, especially the "Marchas" -- a vast "desfile" (parade) usually held on the Tuesday evening, comprising about 20 large contingents of costumed singer/dancers representing various "freguesias" (communities) from around all the island, each accompanied by their uniformed town "filarmónica" (marching band).

Sanjoaninas closes with a 20-minute fireworks display over Monte Brasil and Angra Bay starting at midnight at the end of the final Sunday.

Perhaps some year you'll get to go. Till then, you can check out: