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With this year’s 2019 Boston Portuguese Festival Day of Portugal celebrations around the corner, memories of the 2018 festivities came to mind.

It all started when our friend, Erica Rodrigues, sent an email with a link to a video of the Tall Ship Sagres in Boston. Her message said: ”I just found this incredible video, and I’m in awe. Everything about it is just beautiful.”

After seeing the video, we realized why she was so excited about it. She had seen online and thought this would be a story of interest for our readers.

Having the inherent Portuguese explorer’s genes, we found out that the video’s author, João Paulino, was a sailor on the tall ship Sagres and we contacted him to learn more about his experience.

The Feel Portugal digital magazine site usually focuses on the experience of living in the US and being reminded of Portugal. This story would be different because it’s about the journey of a young sailor, João Paulino, born and living in Portugal, who visited the US and felt a strong connection during his visit to cities in the US with a sizeable Portuguese community.

João was born in Faro, Portugal. He studied Motion Design at ETIC (Escola Técnica de Imagem e Comunicação). He then joined the Portuguese Navy and was a sailor aboard the NRP Sagres, an iconic tall ship of the Portuguese Navy since 1961.

He set out on a voyage across the ocean that brought him to several ports in the US. His video highlights and shows, through his perspective, what it was like to visit the city of Boston and other ports during his journey.

One can only imagine what it would be like to cross the Atlantic as a crew member on the Sagres. It’s a majestic ship that is powered by the wind, as many Portuguese vessels were during the Age of Discovery.

João, a sailor assigned to the Sagres school ship in May of 2016 doesn’t have to imagine what it’s like, he experienced it and lived his dream aboard the Sagres.

On one of his previous trips, he set sail from Portugal on a mission to retrace the likely route of a major voyage which originally happened during Portugal’s age of discovery, and led to the discovery of Brazil.

In June of 2018 Sagres came to the US on the occasion of the 2018 Month of Portugal celebration, organized by the Embassy of Portugal in Washington, to commemorate the Day of Portugal, Camões and Portuguese Communities celebrated in several US States.

On its journey, Sagres stopped in Miami, Philadelphia, New York, Newport, and finally in  Boston.

In Boston, the highlight of the 2018 month of Portugal celebration was a special visit by Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa who visited Boston, MA and also Providence, RI for the festivities.

On June 9, 2018, upon arriving in Boston, Sagres docked at Fan Pier Marina and stayed there until June 12th. João said:  “From all the ports I visited, this dock was the closest to the city center … only about a 10-minute walk from the center of Boston.”

“I had no idea that we have so many Portuguese communities spread all over the world,” João then went on to say: “I was impressed and proud when, in the middle of downtown Boston, I heard Fado and other traditional Portuguese music being played and enjoyed by a sea of people.”

The Day of Portugal celebration was organized by Boston Portuguese Festival and brought together a multitude of people who filled City Hall Plaza in Boston. Many people wore the traditional red, yellow and green colors of the Portuguese flag. “it made me feel like I was in Portuguese soil even though I was many nautical miles away,” said João.

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Even though Paulino was impressed with Miami it was in Newark that he had the most interaction with the Portuguese community.

João told us a little about his experience making the long voyage across the Atlantic.  He said: “The days and shifts at sea are quite routine… we sailed for 24 days from the port of Funchal in Madeira to the city of Philadelphia.”

“The days become tiresome in the middle of the Atlantic ocean when surrounded by water and sharing a minimal amount of space with the same people.” He continued “It’s super rewarding to get to the other side of the ocean, hear our language spoken in a continent that is not ours and being received with open arms as if we were in Portugal”.

A year has gone by and João Paulino is no longer with the school ship Sagres and, due to his great video skills, he was transferred to the marketing department of the Portuguese Navy.

For those of us living in New England, we will have another edition of the Boston Portuguese Festival but this time without Sagres or the Portuguese President. We are sure that we will celebrate the National day with the same enthusiasm as we did last year.

This year’s day of Portugal festivities will once again take place in Boston, on Sunday, June 23rd with a wide variety of activities at City Hall Plaza.

João Paulino’s Videos:

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
New York, New York
Newport, Rhode Island
Miami, Florida
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About Author

Paulo Martins and Feligenio Medeiros are the co-founders and editors of the digital magazine FEEL PORTUGAL IN THE USA.

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