Thursday 15 June 2017

Flores 2 – Return to Santa Cruz

The main Harbour at Santa Cruz

Artist's impression of Harbour after works are completed

I started writing this on the 14th June on a grey drizzly day. It’s now the 15th June and the sun is out. Writing was interrupted due to the riggers arriving to commence work on replacing the fore and back stays. More on that in a later post.

My final days in Flores just seemed to rush by and apart from my return to Santa Cruz I’m not sure where the days went.

Last Friday I took the 0900 bus from Larjes into Santa Cruz on a mission to find the Hotel where Timmy Hubbard (now deceased long term school friend of my Stepfather, Tim Hunt) took refuge in 1984 during his participation in the OSTAR (Observer Single Handed Transatlantic Race).

On my earlier visit I had failed to find the Hotel that Timmy named as the Hotel Santa Cruz in his book “The Race”. First stop was the local library – I hoped that I might be able to turn up some helpful information in their local history section. 

Ariel view of Santa Cruz from a library book - The Hotel Santa Cruz should be over looking the Old Harbour on r/h 

Views of the Old Harbour

However, after 2 hours of scanning various texts on the town I was none the wiser. I therefore set off on yet another wander around the town and attempted to marry up Timmy’s description of his visit to the Hotel and his sketch map, with what I could actually see. Frustratingly however after another couple of hours all I had to show for my efforts were two or three older buildings that looked like they may have once been hotels with the characteristics mentioned my Timmy. My favourite was actually a Municipal building and so I went in to ask the locals. I received directions to what I was assured was the oldest Hotel in the town, from a helpful lady who spoke good English. Unfortunately, either her ability to give directions was poor or I completely misunderstood what she said because once back out in the streets I could make no sense of the details of what I was told. A couple of buildings – one very well restored and one very derelict -  in the general area referred to, might have been Hotels in the past but were certainly not now.

A possible Candidate

The Municipal Building
Timmy’s text of his visit to Santa Cruz describes a quite nail biting entrance to the Harbour – he was towed in by the Harbour Master’s son I recall. He then describes his walk “back up the hill” across the Cathedral Piazza” … “into the oldest part of the town”. Once in the Hotel he had … “a view across the terrace over-looking the sea”.

After juggling with this information and what I could see after repeated walks around the town I had to settle for three possibilities that more or less concurred with his description and with that I called it a day as far as my Timmy Hubbard mission was concerned.

Next on my itinerary was a visit to the Whale Museum. Exceptionally well preserved, the Museum told the story of the Islanders’ and the Azoreans more generally, participation in the Whaling trade, both locally (the Azores being a particularly favourite area for many Whales) and as crew members of ocean going (mainly American) Whale ships; an occupation at which the islanders apparently excelled. A truly gruesome trade it was and thank goodness it is over but my goodness it was a tough life for the Whalers – a truly exceptional body of men.

An Azorean Whale Boat

Tools used for constructing the local Whale Boats

Part of the old factory interior

Ramp up which the slaughtered Whales were dragged for processing

After the museum, I headed for the Airport Café for a light lunch and then waited for the 1545 bus to return to Larjes. At the Tourist Information Office, I had previously queried which of the two bus time-tables was currently in operation and was re-assured that it was the school term time-table. The 1545 never materialised however, (it had the previous week). I therefore decided to walk back into town to await the 1645. Just as I arrived in the centre at 1600, an un-scheduled bus to Larjes arrived. A number of school children were waiting for it and so it was clearly a known entity. Anyway I jumped on and returned to Larjes. The following day Saturday I intended to leave for Horta (see previous post).

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