There is a tiny village on the island of Santa Maria, called Anjos. The village itself is beautiful. And old. Very old.
I was lucky enough to spend two weeks in Anjos. It is like another world.. There are no stores. But there is one tiny oceanfront café, an ocean pool, a playground, and a very old church. My mom’s godmother lives in Anjos, (she is also my cousin). She welcomed us to her home, fed us amazing food and forced me to drink wine every single day with lunch and dinner (It was hard, but somehow, I managed).
Madrinha (which means godmother in Portuguese), is a wonderful, hysterical, and tough Portuguese lady. I loved her the moment I met her.
Her house is right next to the church.
The church is the oldest in the archipelago and is of historical importance . One morning while I was sitting outside enjoying my coffee, a tour bus stopped in front of the church,but it was locked. I had to go get the key from the neighbor and open up the church for them. I chuckled as the American and German tourists all snapped photos of me while I opened the church, they thought I was the church caretaker…
The village is rich in history. You can feel it. As you come into town there is a statue of Christopher Columbus (my least favorite thing in town). He stopped in Anjos, on his way back to Europe. Apparently Columbus attended mass in the tiny church (which was restored about 120 years ago). I am sure attending church wasn’t all he did when he stopped in the Azores. Ugh. (I used to teach History, I have my opinions!!) 🙂
Anjos has a history full of beauty, sadness, and massacre.
In the 1600’s Moorish pirates came and destroyed much of the village and killed many of the people in the village. The ones who escaped, went and hid deep in nearby caves, caves that are over a mile in length. There are still cannons from the massacre, rusting away on land that still belongs to my relatives. .
When my mom was 13, she started a job working for a fish factory in Anjos, she was emotional as she showed me where she used to work… the factory has long since closed, so much history.
The area amazed me. There is hiking, swimming, snorkeling, surfing and more. There are figs, grapes, taro, and blackberries growing everywhere. There are wild herbs everywhere too, spearmint, chamomile, red clover, to name a few.
The hills, cliffs, the rocks, the ocean, the caves, the tiny church, the people, and the houses are amazing. But even more amazing is spending time in a village that is so closely connected to my blood.. My family is from there…And now, a part of my heart will always stay there.
We are now on the other side of the island, living it up in the mountains… stay tuned for more exciting stories from our gypsy travels..xx Beijos (kisses)