Sunday, May 10, 2015

Wednesday, May 10th, 1882

Wednesday. May 10th. Off Flores.
We have been [?] - eating all day. It has been a new world and we never wish to return to the old. We were up to breakfast for the first time. Miss Smith & I aroused by repeated banging at our door - and the noise of the Portuguese unloading the vessel. There were sharks & a cow-fish outside to make and excitement too. Immediately a boat load of Portuguese came to take us ashore. It was a fine day, and not rough. The oars to the boats are very clumsy, long and patched up by several pieces and so heavy that it would take two or three men to wield them. They are the most primitive specimens I've seen. The harbor at Santa Cruz is very rugged, volcanic rock thrown up in picturesque shapes with brilliant coloring mingled with lava.

Over the wall of the little village we could see rows of women's heads in quaint costume and as we landed the whole population seemed on the lookout. It was a strange sensation. I thought involuntarily of Egypt tho' I do not know why - to see the crooked, narrow streets, some smoothly paved, some cobbled, all clean as if just swept - with one storied white washed houses on each side with tiled roofs. Out of each window and door were the heads of the most beautiful women I ever beheld, olive-hued, large dark eyes, dazzling teeth and heavy dark hair - There is a distinct type here among the women - the hair is not often black but dark brown which surprises me. There is more variety among the men. The children are without exception healthy and beautiful in appearance. All have graceful, Southern manners. The women wear plain dresses, a long cape, gathered in at the neck and a handkerchief in white or yellow most often sometimes red & blue on the head like this

All are bare footed. As we walked up the streets a woman rushed out of a doorway and grasped my hand. She could talk English, had been in America & wanted to know how work was there. She held my hand wherever we went. Every one saluted us, sending their children with flowers to give us. Some would offer their high-walled gardens for us and allow us to take all the flowers we wished. One beautiful woman sitting on the roadside with a basket of beans and greens handed some to me talking rapidly so that I had to call Mr Phillips who was with our party (Mr & Mrs Lee, Miss Smith, Mr. P & I) to interpret for her. She said she was a poor woman who was out gathering something for her dinner. She wanted to make me welcome at Flores, but had nothing but her dinner to give me. They have intelligent faces, tho' I suppose they have little education, and are very animated. Some of the houses are covered with decorated tiles and the finest house of the island is two storied, large and painted pink. The houses that were not white washed were covered with moss or flowers that had taken root in the crevices of the rocks. We went to the Post office, to a store and to the Cathedral which was being renovated, very tawdry and vulgar in decoration, hideous inside. Outside it was more imposing, two Sara cenic domes and the arches were peculiarly shaped.

We went in to the Chapel of a Convent hospital which was very old and rather interesting. The coloring was [?]. The decoration a kind of [?]. Something unique. A book we have since seen says the Renaissance Italian. Mr Lee says not so. After wandering through the village, we went over cow fields, up a slope to some beautiful gardens, orange trees, bananas, lemons, palms, yams and a fruit new to us the nespra was growing there - [?] tangled and uncared for. Walks everywhere, Calla lilies growing wild. We filled pockets & bags and hands with fruit or flowers. We had Calla lilies, roses, double[?] geraniums, honeysuckles, ferns, English ivy, fine gladiolas, everlastings, marigolds, etc. Mr Lee took a bag of nespras for Grace. They are about the size of a plum, yellow when ripe, full of an acid juice which is very refreshing. We grew hungry and came to a little blue house over a moss covered stone bridge. We asked at the door for a bowl of milk. The man of the house had been a New Bedford whaler & spoke English. He told us we could have all we wished. So we entered the little house which contained a little kitchen or shed beside the living room which had three beds in it. The walls were covered with prints & paintings of the Christ and saints - and a gilded shrine. There were the grandmother and grandfather, the man of the house, his wife, two sisters and a lovely little child. With the utmost grace they set before us all they had, bowls of milk, black bread, horse beans and yams. They made no apologies for anything and were perfectly at their ease. So different from our American people. It was a simple hearted graceful hospitality. They would not allow us to pay them, and when we came away the old woman gave us her blessing and wished us good luck on our voyage. Mr Phillips was a treasure in good nature, generosity, though he did call me his "Mamie". The Portuguese insisted that I was his wife as he carried my jacket and it amused him immensely.

After dinner we went with the "Padre" to a church feast which they hold at their homes from Easter to Whitsunday[?], - the large room was filled with women - a tawdry shrine at one end and religious pictures on the wall. Candles before the shrine & jewelry as votive offerings - In the market place we saw a very handsome boy with a fascinating fez on his head. He was more beautiful than the famous Neapolitan Boy. Milly Smith was entranced - took him at once to the photographers. We tried to buy his fez but couldn't. Mr Wallach bought another for Grace. There are fewer beggars here than I supposed - we only saw two or three. We were a most enthusiastic party. I had seen the luxuriance of flowers and felt the balmy air in Southern Cal. & Charleston but to the others it was the first experience. The town and people were a delight to me we came back to the Sarah to find that they had caught three porpoises and unloaded. A heavenly night. All were tired out with cracking headaches - and hungry. We were furious to find it "was hash" night. We loaded Grace with the trophies of our days sport. When we came in tonight the sea was the color of sapphire. My first impression of a foreign land - An event!

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