Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Chickens, Roosters & Cagarros….Oh My…
Chicken and roosters are not as common as they used to be on the island. I remember distinctly there were a lot more here when I was a child. Both of my mother’s neighbors had a family of chickens, and often at times, when relatives and friends would visit us during the summer, there was always a “Tia” (aunt) of my mother’s who would either bring us a bag of sugar, or a chicken to give us fresh eggs in the morning. There was one chicken in particular that I was very fond of, I named her Jenny—but that is another story. Anyway, unfortunately, all of my mother’s Tias have since past away, and now I guess giving chickens is simply not done anymore. Whatever the reason being, they are still around, and the rooster still crows every morning starting at 4 am.
I know that the rooster crows at 4 am because I was always awakened by it every morning, at 4 am. This went on for the first two weeks of my stay. Apparently the rooster lived in the neighborhood, and it when it started crowing, the other rooster who lived on the other end of then neighborhood would then chime in afterwards. I swear these roosters were having a conversation among themselves. By 4:15 a third rooster from where I suspect was up the hill from my mom’s neighborhood would join it. The crowing would stop 10 minutes later, and then resume at 5 am. By the third week, I was so used to it, that I was able to sleep through it.
Yes it was hard to sleep sometimes at night. There were days that were so hot and humid, the kids wanted to go out at night to the beach and sit at the outdoor cafes, and grab a “galaos” “lattes”- it was our nightly ritual---galaos at midnight, sometimes later. You would be surprised how many people on the island are still out at night at that hour. We were definitely not alone. Coming home, afterwards, unable to sleep, and reading my summer reading selection: Anne Rice’s Interview With A Vampire, did not help of course. Oh yes, and don’t forget I was fighting a jet lag, of 7 hours difference from California time. Yes, I felt like a vampire, and would curse that rooster each morning at 4 am – I confess. If it wasn’t the rooster, it was my mother’s washing machine—but that is another story.
On the day we arrived to the island, my daughter and I decided to take a late night walk around my mother’s home in Vila Nova. It was a nice evening, and there weren’t very many people around, and I was kind of wondering why we were out there, but Lizzy insisted on exploring the little winding neighborhood streets, and I didn’t want her to go venturing out on her own. It was a nice, warm night under a full moon, and the sounds of the evening were soothing and a little unsettling…
We heard the dog barking madly across the street as we passed along side the tall cement wall of his backyard, and we could hear crickets, the soft clucking of hens, and the humming of the neighborhood street lights, and then out of no where we heard the strangest sound…
What was that?! I thought it was a goat at first, or may be a grunt of a pig, but it couldn’t be because it was coming from overhead. It had a strange alien like sound that I don’t remember ever hearing before! It sounded like…something saying: “Ke Hey, Ke Hey..” in a high pitched nasal voice. It kind of freaked us out, and we decided to head for home.
Later while watching fireworks on the 4th of July (there is an American military base on the island and we were able to watch fireworks) from my cousin’s porch we heard the sound again… “What is that sound?!” I asked my cousin, Adelaide. Apparently they are birds! They are called called “Cagarros”. (In Portuguese it closely resembles the word: cagado which is not a very nice word that basically means, someone who literally shit in his pants-excuse my vocabulary. They migrate to the Azores every spring and stay until winter. Like vampires, they usually only come out at night. They say that there has been more of them caused by the global warming problem. More cagarros AND more jellyfish--but that is another story I will write about next time.
I found this from YouTube, its from the RTP television station and it's taken from the neighboring island in the Azores, Sao Jorge. There was a rescue mission for "lost cagarros" and that is what the video is about. Hopefully you can see what the sound like by this video--enjoy!:
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