Santa Maria – tiny place of longing and sun island of the Azores

The approximately 50 Germans form the largest group of foreigners permanently living on the island. Some have been here for 25 years. A village of 5500 souls, spread over several, partly very relaxed communities on an island of not even 8 x 17 km in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Each community has a characteristic colour on the edges of the otherwise white houses. Mine is blue and is called Santa Barbara. Montbretien and ginger bloom here, in red and yellow.

Those who love nature will get everything delivered to their doorsteps here. Lush flora and fauna on land and in the sea, mountains and hills, climbing rocks, waterfalls, sandy beaches, rocky coastlines, dense, lush green forests, natural parklands with relatively little agriculture. Santa Maria is of volcanic origin, but not a volcanic island. There is no volcano here. The beaches do not consist of black, as usual in the Azores, but light sediment sand. It is winter on Santa Maria. At night it goes down to 10°C, during the day up to 25°C. Sometimes windy, sometimes foggy, as if you are inside a cloud. Sometimes rainy and often bright blue and sunny with dazzling colours. All this happens on the same day. The air, the light, the view – you feel free and light. The colours are so intense, especially in sunshine.

You greet each other when you meet or pass each other by car, whether you are a local or a tourist. Here everyone depends on each other. One knows each other after a short time and meets in the village pub or in the corner shop, which is often the same. Only in the island capital Vila do Porto with about 3500 inhabitants it is rather “urban”. Actually, there is everything you need on the island: supermarkets, pharmacies, drugstores, clothing stores, car dealers and workshops and DIY stores. There are schools, kindergarten as well as Police, administrative authorities, fire brigade, ambulance service. In case of emergency, the rescue helicopter from Ponta Delgada is also there in 30 minutes and brings patients to the hospital on the main island of the Azores, São Miguel. If necessary, patients can also be flown to the university hospital in Lisbon or Coimbra.

I can understand why some foreigners are stuck here.

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