Trans-Atlantic 2008  -  Terceira

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We had a lazy sail from Horta to Angra do Heroismo the main town on Terceira.

The island is so named because it was the third island discovered in the Azores around 1500 became a major staging point for the Portuguese and Spanish navigators in the days before steamships.  It was on the natural wind driven routes home from the Indes, and the Spanish Main.

 The town has retained its old world character, and has lots of good restaurant, and interesting pair of forts, one now an army base, the other a modern hotel.

It is is by no means a good natural harbour, demonstrating how tough the old sailors were.  A few years ago, a breakwater was built, with a marina behind it, so we had it easy.

(Double click pictures  see full size, then use the back button on your browser to return here)

Outside the old town, the island is pretty rural, with mostly small villages.  There is one modern town with an American military base, but they have surprisingly little influence on the island.  Of course, the money they spend must be welcomed by the locals.

We toured the island one day in a car, and found a number of roads like this one.  Just a remote farm road, quite high in the hills, yet built of hand-laid stones. One more indication of hard the Azoreans worked, and still do. 

We were a few weeks later than our visit to Flores, so the Hydrangea hedge blooms are a little past their best, but still impressive.

Like all the Azorean Islands, Terceira is volcanic.  The unique feature here is that it is possible to enter one of the extinct volcanoes, and explore the core.

In the picture, Michael and Helen are looking up the main vent.  Apparently there are only two laces in the world where that is possible.

Where there is light, the inside of the vent are becoming vegetated, but lower down all is solid lava.

The whole tourist operation is quite low key, probably because it is too remote for mass access.

Bull "fights"  are the main entertainment for the locals.  A better term would be "bull baiting, as shown in the photos below.  The bulls are tethered by along rope with half a dozen men on the other end, but are otherwise free to roam the streets and chase young men who torment them.  Other than teasing, they do not harm the bull, although the teasers sometimes end up in an ambulance.

In Posto Santos, a village of about 150 houses, there are several bull fights each summer on the street, like this one. 

All the women, and most of the men, stay behind the garden walls to watch.  Lots of young men, (including Michael) and a fair sprinkling of older ones (including Neil) are out on the street. 

The boldest tease the bull but most stay a little away, and hop over the nearest wall when necessary.

One thing we learned is that the saying "like a red rag to a bull" is meaningless.  The bulls clearly did not care about colour, but they can be aggravated by flapping cloths of any color.

In Porto Judea, the bullfight is mostly on the dock.

The local lads try to tempt the bull into charging out of the control off the dock, but he was too shy for that. 

However, lots of the teasers end up swimming.  This is no great hardship on the warm, clean waters of the Terceira coast.

Despite the small size of the island, there were a couple of thousand spectators, some of whom are visible on the far side of the port.

We found it interesting that while there are a couple of such shows on the island every evening all summer, we san none at all on the other islands in the Azores.

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