I love having a very diverse heritage. Half of my family is Portuguese/Catholic, and half of my family is Dutch/Protestant. It is really cool to be part of both worlds.
As a child I was much more immersed in the Dutch/Protestant part of my heritage, so much so that at that time it felt like being Dutch/Protestant was “normal” (that’s what EVERYBODY was) and being Portuguese/Catholic, for reasons too many to fully list here, was exotic and romantic. (To illustrate this, I really should post a picture of my cousin as queen of the festa – pronounced “feshta.” My grandfather’s stories about his parents returning to their village to fulfill a “promesa” to God seemed romantic as well.)
The picture above is of the Azore Island of Pico (pronounced “peak”). My dream as a child was to visit the Azore Islands, where my Portuguese ancestors came from – sort of an Atlantic version of Hawaii. I’ve recently heard it described as a combination of Hawaii and Ireland. Beauty aside, as a child I wanted to go there because it seemed like a hidden part of myself was calling me there to find some secret half of me I didn’t fully know.
Growing up, I felt I didn’t entirely belong in either world. Imagine having the last name Fernandes and attending a church entirely populated with Dutch people. Imagine visiting Portuguese relatives and being Protestant. (Back then I didn’t want to celebrate being different. I just wanted to fit in, as I think most children do!) In these settings I felt at times like I was only half of what I should have been, but now, instead of feeling halved, I feel doubled – doubly blessed.
As an adult I see and revel in the richness and romance in both sides of my heritage, but the little child inside Dutchaguese me still dreams of visiting the Azores someday. Given this picture, can you blame me?
(For a post with other images, click here.)