Oct. 8, 2007
By Ken Krayeske • 11:05 PM UCT
A small neighborhood in Horta, on the volcanic island of Faial in the Azores.
O n the list of "Things I Never Wanted To Do," I can now check off "Cross the Atlantic In A Sub-Tropical Storm."
Slogging through seven days in 10 to 15 foot seas is as little fun as it sounds. I don't get seasick, but imagine a dull headache, a lighter version of the dizzy kind you got as a kid when you rolled down a hill too fast.
The payoff, though, was spending three days in Horta, a small port city on the island of Faial in the Azores – the Portuguese archipelago of volcanic mountaintops sitting two-thirds of the way across Atlantic.
Faial is an island of some 12,000 people. At one point, more than twice that number populated it. But 50 years ago, in 1957, a volcano erupted, and made life on the island difficult.
Sen. John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts responded by welcoming Azoreans to Massachusetts. Kennedy work magic with the federal bureaucracy and managed to invite 12,000 or so folks to the Bay state.
A sea-faring people, the Azoreans moved to coastal cities like New Bedford, but they also moved inland to Springfield.
So it should have come as no surprise to me, but when I sat down at the seaside restaurant Quebra Mar for a dinner of the local delicacy Guelly Fish with a special sauce, the owner Ernaldo turned out to have visited his cousin in Hartford during Christmas a few years ago.
He remembered how beautiful and cold and white and snowy it was, very different from the temperate island climate of Faial.
In Horta, if you look west and can see Pico, the next island, it is going to rain. If you can't see Pico, it is already raining, said one local, a transplant from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He moved there 16 years ago, and hasn't looked back once.