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Life and death on the Portuguese


Camino Portuguese Day 1

Monastery or not, the bluebottle didn’t stand a chance.

The plump hospitalera grabbed my Brierley guide to the Camino Portuguése, took aim, swotted the insect in one deadly swoop, scraped it off the reception table and handed back the stained book with a satisfied grunt.

You can’t afford to be too sensitive  when the price of a bed is €5 and the tiny black-clad lady takes you by the arm and opens every cupboard of the kitchen to show you her pots, plates and marmalades. And then hangs out of a top floor window to point the way to the “supermercado” and mimes what can be bought on its shelves.

And so began my first night on the Camino, in the Mosteiro de Vairão, a monastery founded in the eleventh century which now hosts road-weary pilgrims. All I needed for dinner  after a nerve-jangling walk on the edge of fast traffic was wine and a taste of the marmalade on a bread roll, from the less than “super” mercado.

It will take time to adjust to being a pilgrim again. My legs feel strong after a summer of climbing, but walking on roads and cobbles is nothing like the spring of heather and moorland. And I packed with care, yet the backpack weighs heavy on my shoulders and I’m constantly adjusting and readjusting the straps to find a comfortable fit.

But the sun has transported me back to summer, my boots are eating up the miles and the characters on the road entertain and amaze. The young Dutchman now remembered  as “The Boy Wizard” carried a massive pack that was five times heavier than mine yet he claimed to be “flowing with synchronicity”.

He did slow down when we reached the first hill. And I haven’t seen him now for some time.

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7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Is this your second trek on the Camino?

    October 20, 2015
    • Yes. I walked the Camino Frances in 2012, 500 miles across Spain. And last year I walked from Santiago to Finisterre and Muxia. Each one has a different atmosphere and I’m just starting to adapt to the challenges of the Portuguése way.

      October 21, 2015
      • You rock. No I mean you walk! 🙂

        October 22, 2015
  2. I assumed there wasn’t much road walking on the coastal route – are there many pilgrims on the way?

    October 17, 2015
    • Should have taken your advice, Maggie, but didn’t! Not lots of pilgrims but enough to be sociable.

      October 17, 2015
  3. Flies are all a part of the adventure.

    October 17, 2015

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