Friday: We started our last weekend in the Azores off on the right foot by going to the Azores Green. It was set list of DJs who play dance music. The venue was in Sete Cidades so we had to take the van to and from the concert to save money. The night consisted of face paint, plastic cups littering the outdoor arena, men juggling fire and people on stilts. But most importantly, DAVID GUETTA. The show was truly beautiful. Although he came on rather late (1am) his set consisted of pyrotechnics, fog machines, confetti, amazing graphics and better yet fireworks! It is amazing all of the things musicians can do here. I have never heard of a concert let alone seen a concert with as many bells and whistles this had and I assume it has something to do with venue regulations in the states.
Saturday: Luckily, we were able to sleep in and get our beauty sleep before going to Vila Franca. It was sunny so we immediately took the boat to the Vila Franca Islet which is a protected bird sanctuary and home to the RedBull cliff diving taking place July 26! The islet is a volcanic crater that has been shaped by the sea. It is truly beautiful with water rushing in and out of the small pool from pathways leading out to the ocean. Afterwards we headed to this beautiful church overlooking all of Vila Franca.
Sunday: Today there were only a few fellows who went on the group excursion so we were able to do a few more activities and have a bit more control over how long we stayed at each place. We started off the morning at a blue finch sanctuary where we learned about conversation efforts to boost the blue finch population which is unique to the northeast of São Miguel. These finches had previously been on the brink of extinction with a mere 80 individuals but now the population has increased to about one thousand. In conserving the birds they also protect their habitat, maintaining not only the beauty of the island but also plants that help keep the soil together preventing natural disasters. Afterwards we trekked up to the top of the second peak in São Miguel around 950m and had a beautiful scenic view of the northeast end of the island. We also visited a beautiful botanic garden and a tea plantation. The tea plantation has been open since 1883 and turns out about 200 tons of tea a year all picked and dried by hand. The factory has a creek that runs by and uses their own hydroelectric mill for their electricity. The factory had electricity before most of the island in the early 1900’s! After a fun day exploring and a delicious meal we convinced Daniel to take us back to Santa Barbara beach, which is a beautiful swim and surfing beach with smooth black sands. We were able to relax and soak up the sun marking the end of our last weekend on São Miguel. It has been absolutely beautiful exploring this island. I will definitely miss its natural beauty and liveliness!