National Geographic : 1975 Jan
spoke only crioulo, an Afro-Portuguese dia lect, so her conversation had to be translated into Portuguese, and then into English. She had lived on Brava, one of Portugal's Cape Verde Islands. It was a 48-day trip from there to Pawtucket. First an island-hopping boat. Then a plane to Lisbon. Then a long wait while documents were sought and slow ly processed-and finally that flight to Bos ton's airport. Was the long trip worth it? Catarina looked lovingly at her family. "Esta contente," her son-in-law said. Yes, it was worth it. As we prepared to leave, I gave each of the children a dollar-an old Italian custom I had learned from my father. Eugenia's young est daughter, Ester, clutched the bill in one hand and a toy in the other. "Quero dar ao Senhor a minha boneca," the 2-year-old said. "I want to give you my doll." Immigrants Transplant Island Pageantry Such open warmth greeted me again in Fall River, Massachusetts, the heart of New Eng land's Portuguese communities. I went there on a sun-kissed Sunday to attend the Feast of Santo Cristo, a duplicate of one held yearly on the island of Sao Miguel in the Azores, Portu gal's mid-Atlantic archipelago. Surely someone in Fall River must speak English! I felt like an immigrant myself, un able to communicate with the happy throngs around me. And then a smile wove its way toward me, attached to Raul Benevides. "Bom dia," he said. "You want to take pictures? I'll clear the way. You can use the porches, the roofs, the balconies-anywhere. I get you there." His smile was like a flashbulb going off. Teeth gleamed, wavy hair glistened, nose puckered, and a precisely trimmed moustache stretched across his lip. He used that smile often as he towed me through the crowd. Suddenly a shattering explosion of bells came from the church, where a procession was forming. Out of the darkness emerged a striking statue of Christ, borne on the shoul ders of six somber men in formal dress. A shaft of sunlight fell on the statue's scarlet cape, embroidered with gold thread by women parishioners. Raul led me up three flights of stairs in a building near the church. "My sister lives here," he said. We entered an apartment filled with chil dren in Sunday finery, and with the fragrance New day dawns for Catarina Alves on her first morning as a United States resident; she holds a 2-year-old granddaughter. At last the relocation of the entire family to Pawtucket and East Providence, Rhode Island, from the Cape Verdes, Portuguese islands off the West African coast, is complete. "We were separated for many years," the stately grandmother said, "but we were never really apart." Still, they must live with saudade "the memory of the things we left behind. We were farmers," she added, "but now our land is sad. There is no rain." New England's "Little Portugal"