You know summer is right around the corner when bull fight season starts. Bull fights here are a little different from what you might be used to, as they let the bulls loose on a rope and they run in neighborhood streets. While that is the most common form around here, they also have arena bull fights, where they, yes, stab the bull. Thankfully Portugal has a no kill policy, but it is still not nice to go around stabbing large animals...BUT it is local custom and tradition, so we respect that. It is also the most excitement around here in months, so we attended the first bull fight of the year last weekend. Scroll down to the tiles now if you do not want to see pictures of the bull fight (you can't really see much in them, but I will warn you just in case).
Since the bull fight started at 8:30, and many restaurants don't open until 7 pm, coupled with the typical European meal that lasts hours, we opted for pizza instead.
Our new friends, Alexandra and James joined us. Here is how I met Alexandra, try not to get confused: She went to college (sorority sister) with my cousin's wife. When my cousin's wife found out she was moving to Lajes, and realized I live here, she introduced us over Facebook. Alexandra and I clicked right away, and I am so happy to have a new friend here. Too bad we leave soon, but I am still thankful to have met Alexandra and spend some time hanging out with her. Since they are new to the island, we took them with us to the arena.
At first we were in the back, so for the opening ceremonies we were looking at the backsides of everyone. We ended up moving shortly after this because there was a group of young American guys, drinking and getting rowdy behind us. It was really unpleasant and we did not like all the attention it was attracting. Not only was it disrespectful to the local culture and people, it distracts the bulls and horses, and even the people nearby. Keep that in mind as you travel. Never single yourself out as an American (or what people assume is American behavior). I hate to say it being an American, but our culture differs from others and acting in a different manner makes you stand out in the crowd. It's just not a good position to put yourself and your travel companions in. Basically, this was not an NFL tailgate party and these guys were treating it as such.
This is just the guy who "entertains" the bull. The bull fighter rides around on a horse.
That was last Friday night, and on Saturday afternoon, Alexandra and I went to a tile painting class at a tile factory. This place does custom work, traditional tiles, hand paints, mass produces with transfers (like iron on decals), and really does a large amount of the ceramic tile work on the island. If you buy a mug at a souvenir, there is a good chance it was made at this place. I love their items, and when Ryan's family was here we were picking up gifts, and the owner told me about his new tile painting classes. For 2 hours you get training in how to paint in this unique and traditional Portuguese way. If you have ever been to Portugal you will know that they are well known for their painted tiles.
When we arrived we were given a brief history of tile work in Portugal, followed by a demonstration on how to pain these tiles. The are pre-glazed, which makes them different from tiles that you glaze after you paint. Here the owner is showing us the paint color that turns to the deep blue that is traditional here in Portugal and the Azores.
These are the paints. They are powder in water that you mix up.
If you can draw, you have an advantage. I am by no means artistic AT ALL, so I picked a flower that was drawn already on tracing paper.
I practiced a little with the paint colors before getting started on my actual tile.
Then I placed the picture on the tile, as we were taught to do, and traced the picture.
If you look closely you can see how it was transferred to my blank tile. This is because of the kind of tile this is, with a powdery glaze on top.
Here is my tile with the stem completed and then starting on the petals.
As I said, I am not that artistic.
I just kept painting my flower, praying it would turn out nicely.
Here is Alexandra's tile in progress.
Here you have my finished tile. I am not even gonna lie, the professional painter came over and helped me add details and texture to my tile.
A few days later we went back and picked up our finished tiles. I think they turned out very nicely, despite not being a good artist.
I am also very excited because I placed a custom order for a "house of" sign that will say Boyd Family on it. When I pick up the finished product I will share here. I am also getting a beware of dog sign made with a hand painted picture of our dog on there. Their tile work is amazing so I need to get everything I have been talking about for months, before we leave the island. I am also very excited because now that we have taken the class, the owner will have open studio hours where we can come and paint more projects. You just pay for what you make. It is a very cool idea and super fun to do.