Now that we are free to roam the island we are spending more time outside exploring and searching for opportunities to engage with the locals and businesses that make this island so unique.
For example, and as we learned today, a surf school is not exactly a unique business in Portugal. After all…where there is water there are waves…and where there are waves there are surfers.
There are several surf schools along the coast, both on the island as well as on the mainland. Still, for us, taking a look at the surfing culture on the island was fascinating enough to want to learn more.
We contacted the Azores Surf Center and the couple that own this surf school were kind enough to meet with us today. The school is unique because they have a dual purpose. On the one hand they run a non-profit surf club for local boys and girls and on the other, they run a surf school as well as a hostel for those who wish to stay longer term.
The casual meeting with Josie and Ricardo took place in the parking lot of the famous Santa Barbara beach. It was an hour-long, very casual chat but rich enough to learn about their school and business.
We agreed to find time to observe Ricardo hold a class and maybe even participate in one ourselves. Our intent is to write a longer story about this Surf Center and what makes the surfing culture of Sao Miguel special.
On our way home we stopped at the fish store in town just a few blocks from the surf beach. This store is special. We came here immediately after the lockdown ended desperate to eat fresh fish. After three weeks of eating processed tuna (although very high quality) the half-hour drive across the island from Furnas to Ribeira Grande was not a problem.
The daily catch is openly displayed so that you can simply pick from the numerous fish on ice, including large yellowfin tuna. Today we witnessed a customer who selected an enormous tuna for her family. The fishmonger handled and filleted the fish with the skill, confidence and precision of a surgeon performing open heart surgery. It was amazing to watch.
She told us that it is much cheaper to buy the entire fish rather than buying individual filets. Turns out her price for this enormous tuna was about $30.00. It was indeed enough tuna to feed a family…for a week!
We don’t have a big freezer so we settled for two slices of the freshest tuna we have ever tasted. We will be back for more and, most notably, we will find an opportunity to write a story about this amazing store and the friendly fishmongers that run it.
Next Monday we have scheduled a visit to the fish auction in Ponta Delgada where we will see how wholesalers buy their fish. Another story in progress for our Good News section.
Eat more fish. It’s good for you!