National Geographic : 1935 Jan
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE the period when these islands were ruled by Spain. I was shown an old chronicle which relates that women then disguised themselves on the street to escape the notice of the aliens. When the Portuguese monarchy was re stored, the king, wishing to do away with reminders of foreign supremacy, issued an edict that any woman so muffled should be fined, continued infraction of the law being punished by imprisonment and even by exile to Brazil or Africa. In spite of two cen turies of persecution, the all-enveloping gar ment survived. The hood is not always the same, being larger on the islands of Santa Maria and Sao Jorge, more stiffened with buckram and whalebones in Fayal. The young moderns scorn it (see Color Plate VIII); but, con servative, convenient, protective, and long lived, it is still worn by some of the older women, especially for early Mass. If the wearer happens to see somebody on the street whom she wishes to avoid, presto! the hood is pulled farther forward and she is within her own fortress. The visitor to Ponta Delgada is struck by the high walls of dark lava stone which line the streets back of the business section and continue on outlying country roads. The pedestrian is often hemmed in by these stone barriers. I inquired why such for midable inclosures had been built. "It was in the days when we cultivated the orange so extensively," I was told, "when the St. Michael's orange was fa mous, before the blight came. These walls protected the trees from the wind; and, again, it was an easy way of getting rid of the stones in the fields." PINEAPPLES SUPPLANT ORANGES Excellent oranges are again grown here, but the former British market for them is lost and pineapple culture has become the chief source of wealth, developing Sao Miguel into an "Isle of Pines" which pro vides a good part of Europe with practically all its fresh supply of this delicious fruit. I know the English lady whose father, a skilled horticulturist, came to this island more than eighty years ago to lay out the famous Jose do Canto Gardens. It was he who brought the first pineapples to his employer's hothouse. Twenty years later the fruit was shipped to England, each pine in its pot selling for two guineas. England and Germany are now the chief consumers of Azorian pines, France and continental Portugal following (see page 38). The plant, which is here of the smooth leaved Cayenne variety, is grown under glass, special beds of fermenting heath or some other mountain shrub being provided. All the plants are brought to blossom at the same time by a process of smoking, the value of which was accidentally discovered many years ago when a carpenter, working in one of the pineapple houses, chanced to set fire to a pile of shavings. To the sur prise of the grower, the plants, instead of being spoiled, burst into flower. By this method practically all the plants in a hot house can be marketed at the same time, many months earlier than formerly. Little glass houses shimmer on emerald slopes in various sections of Sao Miguel, the exclusive producer of pineapples in this archipelago (see page 63). Wrapped in cellophane or packed in excelsior and crated, the fruit is shipped to the European market by a fleet of three vessels owned by the growers. Last year about 2,000,000 pines, worth half a million dollars, were exported. TEA DRINKERS FROM EARLY DAYS Another exotic industry on this island is the production of black and green tea, which here retains its oriental name, "cha." Ever since they discovered the sea route to India and planted their settlements as far afield as Macao (Macau),* on the coast of China, the Portuguese have been a tea-drinking nation. There is an old belief that tea is better if it has not crossed the sea. Whether this is true or not, Azorian tea tasted to me much like the Far Eastern variety on its native soil. It is consumed locally and shipped to other parts of Portugal. A number of Chinese were originally im ported as instructors in the tea culture, but now only native labor, chiefly female, is employed. The plantations dot the hill sides on the northern side of the island, which has greater moisture than the south coast. The stiff little evergreen shrubs stand in precise rows, very foreign in ap pearance, contrasting strangely with the familiar European flora about them (p. 55). A motor road parallels the coast of the island, with connecting crossroads, enabling the traveler to see much of beauty and * See "Macao, 'Land of Sweet Sadness,'" by Edgar Allen Forbes, in the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE for September, 1932.