On Friday, the weather was terrible here. The Azores are known for having intense weather, often we experience all four seasons in one day. The fog here is sometimes so thick, you literally cannot see. It is eerie and intense.
Friday was the day that my son and his 3 teammates were supposed to head to the mainland of Portugal for a Science Competition. They were scheduled to catch a flight at 7am.
I woke up at 5 am, yawning, groggy, tired. I made some coffee, looked out the window, and I saw dense fog. I felt worried. We drove slowly to the airport. Driving is scary in thick fog.
7am came and went, the flight was cancelled. The Fog grew thicker, visibility zero. The airline told everyone they would give updates every 30 minutes. So we waited. At around Noon, my son and his teammates were told they would fly on a 4pm flight directly to Lisbon. That flight also got cancelled.
I was nervous. The teacher was nervous. The principal of the school was also nervous. He drove to the airport, and announced that even if they couldn’t make it on time to be in the science contest, he would personally make sure that these four boys would still go, and see a little more of the world.
Because this team of four teenage boys worked so hard all year to participate in this contest. They competed a few weeks ago at the regional level and they were one of the top three teams in the entire Azores archipelago. They made it to nationals. This team shocked many people, because not only were they the youngest team to compete, but also, none of these boys live a “privileged life.” Other than my son, these boys had never left the Azores.
This team of four boys, who live on an island so small it doesn’t even have a movie theatre, sat nervously, quietly, and waited. The more I looked at them, the more my heart went out to them. These cute, slightly geeky teenage boys DESERVED THIS TRIP: In my broken portuguese, I talked to a couple of their moms. They shared with me that their kids were scared to go on an airplane, leave home, and venture out into the great big world. Two of the boys were so nervous they couldn’t even eat. This trip was a big deal. And with the fog, the future was clouded. It was unclear what would happen.
At 6:30pm the fog cleared just enough, and they were off. After more than 12 hours waiting, they finally were on their way. They flew to Lisbon, and then made the journey to a small beach village called Santa Cruz. (I wish I could have gone).
They did their presentations, experiments, and a little exploring. Checking in every few hours, my son called last night and quietly announced that his team won first place at Nationals!!!!!
Both my sweetheart and I started crying. These four boys came from an island of 5000 and It is likely that this will forever change their lives. Confidence, opportunity, connections, travel, adventure.
Now, at the end of June, they will travel and compete again, on an international level. They will compete with the winning teams from all the participating countries in Europe.
It is stories like these, that lift us up, make us smile, and give us hope that a better world is possible.
We all journey through dense fog. But every once in a while, the fog disappears and we see a rainbow.