NEWS - CA: Teen travels to Azores to visit mother's birthplace
Teen travels to Azores to visit mother's birthplace
Debbie Borges, 17, poses with her mohter, Natalina Borges, center, and her aunt, Carmen Oliveira, right, at the Praia de Victoria.
Last Updated: September 29, 2005, 07:06:38 AM PDT
"Where are you going this summer?" was the question I heard most often before the school year ended.
" Azores ," I would answer.
Nine out of 10 times, my friends' faces would turn blank, just as I suspected.
Many people are not aware of the nine tiny islands called the Azores, which sit in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean .
The Azores, part of Portugal , are not like the Hawaiian Islands . They actually take pride in not attracting too many tourists.
For six weeks I visited one of the islands, Terceira , where my mother was born. She left there 20 years ago. My sister, Kathy, 14, and I came to see the land where our mom grew up.
Ever since I can remember, I have spoken Portuguese. Apparently, I haven't spoken it very well. Seven years ago, when my sister Kathy and I last visited Terceira , our relatives forgave us for our limited grasp of the language.
This year, on the car ride from the airport, I rambled on to my Uncle Tony in Portuguese about everything from the landscape to the flight.
"This girl doesn't speak Portuguese that well?" he said to my mother.
So I need a little help with grammar, but I know that if I were left alone in a Portuguese city, I could speak enough of the language to get back home.
Even so, English came in handy. Kathy and I would speak English so our family (except for my mother) wouldn't know what we were saying.
Yet my cousin Flavio understood a little, since he had heard English in popular songs. One hit that has grabbed young people's attention in the Azores is "The Candy Shop" by 50 Cent.
Most of the youth like the beat, but don't understand the sexual message of the song. I had the joy of translating the lyrics to my 15-year-old cousin, Diana.
There is more to the culture of the Azores than language and music.
The people of these islands have a fascination with festas and toros, otherwise known as festivals and bulls. From May to October, there is always a festival or a bullfight taking place.
Festivals start on a Saturday, usually with touradas a corda or street-bullfighting. The bull runs down the street, held by a rope, and young men run with it, trying to get as close to the animal as they can.
Although Terceira is famous for its bullfights, the main reason we traveled to the island was to see my grandmother.
Last year, she suffered a stroke. Now she is bedridden and her children (my aunts and uncles) take care of her.
I loved talking to my grandmother about the little things I did during my days on Terceira . I'll miss her, as well as my three younger cousins and numerous other relatives.
When I returned from my trip and told my friends where I had been, I got more blank stares.
That's OK. I had a fun time and got a great tan. Next time, I'll be sure to stop at Sao Jorge, my dad's island.
Debbie Borges, 17, is a senior at Davis High School . She is a member of The Bee's Teens in the Newsroom program.