I got assigned to Lajes Air Base in the Azores. I was wondering if anyone that has been there can tell me what life is like there. How is life in the enlisted dorms? I realize I'll be stuck on an island in the middle of the Atlantic, but are there things to do? Any info would be appreciated, thanks!
I was at Lajes twice. It's beautiful there and if you like the outdoors, there is a lot to do. The first time I was there I lived with my mom, the second time with my husband but our single friends said the newer dorms were very nice.
They play a lot of intramural sports there, there are festivals and bullfights, swimming, hiking, a great golf course, and it's a great place to take classes since you don't deploy and the class sizes are small there. The local restaurants and bars are great and serve amazing local food.
You can take Lajes one of two ways - you can whine about the wind and moan about not having McDonalds or you can take advantage of the unique things there and have the time of your life.
I loved our time there and would go back in a heartbeat.
Lajes was a permanent fixture on my dream sheet for my entire enlistment. My grandparents are Azorean and I would have done anything to get stationed there, but my limited AFSC ensured that would never happen. It really bothers me that some people would be bored at what I would have called the opportunity of a lifetime. That being said, every base is what you make of it. Just because the town doesn't have that cool restaurant or store that you liked at you last duty station doesn't mean the place is worthless...and that goes for any assignment.
It bothered me a lot to hear the whining. We had one spouse off the plane for less than an hour complaining about how she wouldn't be able to shop for anything and how it smelled and on and on and on. Two words: Shut. Up.
I say this even though I cried when my husband got orders to Dyess. *grin* Now that we're here, I still would rather be somewhere else but I'm making the best of it and I'm definitely not being Debbie Downer about it every day.
And when you have little kids, life without McDonalds and Cartoon Network is awesome. I loved it.
If you know anything about a Mediterranean climate, the Azores is atypical. It's a beautiful island and territory, with a Latin, native culture, great people, and the base is OK. Always stopped there on our rotation back to the States. There's plenty to keep you occupied, if you get out of the barracks and off the base. Study some conversational Portuguese. They get a kick of people wanting to speak their language.
Originally posted by Torch8306: .... Study some conversational Portuguese. They get a kick of people wanting to speak their language.
This is great advice, Ed. Not just for going to Lajes (the Portuguese part), but for ANYWHERE. Wanna win friends and influence people? Talk to them in their own language--especially if you're in their home-country. In Germany, if you speak German, chances are good that the person you're speaking with is going to speak English back to you. Well, good. But you will have made points by at least making an attempt.
I was there fromm 2000-2001. Priot to 911 so things probably changed a bit. Great base and better place to work. Very little stress. Good eating and festivals. Familiy oriented environment. Intramurals and base involvement are very important and its fun. There will be sour *****s there that will complain thir whole time but ignore them. You will get island fever at times but taking a vacation somewhere will help. Windy and rainy season will be a b...., but it's ok.
Have fun and enjoy it. I went there kicking and screaming but it turned out to be an assignment I am glad I had.
My Dad was station at the Naval Support Facility from 1967-1969. I visited after college and was there from mid 1968 until entering the US Navy in 1969. It is a very isolated island, but my folks simply loved it. It was the kind of place that I always wanted to go to as a service member: isolated, small, not American-ruined. It was a place where, when you left the base, you LOST 200 or more years in time. The locals still lived as they had when my Dad was there during WWII. Simple, honest and hard-workers. You simply accepted that you would not get a good hamburger, and got on with absorbing things that you would rarely see in other locales. I thoroughly enjoyed my (short) visit. I joined the AF Scuba diving club and we had Saturday morning dives that were fantastic. No long, boring beaches to swim across. Safety was paramount, but the wildlife was amazing and it was a safe diving environment - as long as you strictly adhered to the dive tables (the nearest decompression chamber was in Germany). I saw things there that I never saw in even the Japan country-side. Your two-year tour (accompanied) could be an eye-opening and fascinating opportunity at a very simple, and very old life that worked for those good folks.
I was in the Azores in 1979-82, Both of my children were born on base and I would love the opportunity to visit again. I took my first class towards my BA degree there and am now finishing up my doctorate. If you want to know good people and experience true esprit de corps, the Azores is the place to go. The community is close knit and the local populace are made up of outstanding people.