Monday, May 8, 2017

Day 18: The Day I Broke Amanda

Oct 4: The day started off well. The morning was beautiful! Amanda and I ate a quick breakfast at the hostel, then headed out on the trail at 7:40 in the morning. Then we made what would later turn out to be a terrible, horrible mistake: We went our separate ways.


The Coastal Route officially followed busy roads through Vila do Conde to the town of Povoa Varzim 3.9 km away, but my map showed another route that hugged the coast--the Seashore Path!--but it was a bit longer. Today we had our longest day yet at 24.2 km... if we took the shorter route. But I really wanted to do the longer and, I suspected, more scenic route. But hey, why not? We'd split up and meet in an hour or so in Povoa Varzim. No problem!

So we said goodbye to each other and parted ways with the expectation that we would meet at Cafe Sol where the two routes merged again. I figured it would be about an hour or so. No big deal. We weren't sure who would be more likely to reach the point first. Amanda had the shorter route, but I walked faster. Would my faster pace be enough to compensate for the shorter distance that she would cover? Neither of us knew! Amanda also volunteered to take a lot of photos along the 3.9 kilometers that she'd be walking in case it turned out to be prettier or more interesting than the route I'd take. If her route did turn out to be the more interesting option, I could use her photos for Walking 4 Fun.

My route was scenic but uneventful, and eventually I reached the appointed place but Amanda wasn't in sight. I kind of suspected that Amanda would have beaten me to the location because it took me longer to hike the distance than I expected, but I didn't see her sitting out anywhere and didn't see her inside the restaurant--which had a sign labeled "Guarda Sol" rather than the name in our guidebooks of "Cafe Sol" so I wondered if maybe Amanda missed it and had hiked on too far. Surely she'd have realized that had to be it, though. It was right where the two trails merged, located next to the beach, and was the only place with the word "Sol" in the name.

Just in case, I kept walking up the trail for another 15 minutes or so, keeping my eyes open on any cafe along the beach where she might have stopped to wait for me, but I never saw her. Hmm... Maybe I did beat her to the location? I walked the 15 minutes back to the cafe but there was still no sign of Amanda.

At this point, I was growing a bit concerned. Okay, maybe I beat her to the cafe, but it had now been a half hour since I first arrived--about two hours after I left the hostel, and it really shouldn't have taken Amanda more than an hour to get here. There's no way it should have taken this long. Had she been hit by a car and laying dead on the side of the road, never having reached this location? Did she blow past Cafe Sol with the expectation that I'd catch up later in the day? It's not like I could call her--neither of our phones worked out here. What the hell had happened to Amanda?

Nau Quinhentista, a replica of a Portuguese Carrack.

I went into Cafe Sol and asked the waiter if they had wi-fi there. The waiter didn't speak any English, but he knew a little Spanish--even less than I did!--but his bad Spanish was better than my even worse Portuguese so Spanish we used. He said that there was a wi-fi connection and I thought, awesome! I'll log online and see if Amanda left me an email.

I sat down by a window where I could keep an eye on Amanda walking by--just in case she were to walk by--pulled out my smartphone and tried to log in, but the connection didn't seem to work. I asked the waiter about the problem and he kept telling me the number "16"--but 16 what? I had no idea what he was talking about.

An English-speaking customer came to the rescue and begin playing translator, translating my English into Portuguese for the waiter and translating his Portuguese into English for me, and the waiter explained that the Internet connection wouldn't work until October 16th. WTF?! Then why did he originally tell me that there was an Internet connection here? And why did my phone show a signal for the establishment--but it just wouldn't connect? Argh!

Frustrated and annoyed, I decided to leave. The English-speaking customer told me that the building next door was a library, however, and that I should be able to get online there. She even walked me over there just in case I needed her help as a translator some more. Wonderful woman!

I finally got online, but found no messages or email from Amanda. I still had no idea where she was or what happened to her. If she had walked on ahead expecting me to catch up, I was going to be pissed. She could have at least left a message for me somehow first. But still, I was growing increasingly concerned that maybe Amanda never even made it this far. Maybe she'd been struck by a vehicle and was laying in a hospital somewhere, or dead on the side of the road, and I had no idea about how to find out what happened to her.


I left Amanda an email saying that I was going to continue on in the hope that she'd check her email at some point during the day and know where I was located and what my plans were. I left the proverbial bread crumb that she could follow--assuming she wasn't hurt or dead or something equally horrible. If I didn't find her by the time I reached the hotel at the end of the day, then I'd see about contacting the police. By that point, something would have been definitely wrong.

If Amanda had passed by the cafe and kept on walking, though, she had at least a two hour head start on me now. It had been two hours since I first arrived at Cafe Sol and I had a lot of catching up to do!

I continued the walk, pushing myself hard hoping that Amanda was somewhere up ahead and I'd soon catch up. I took no rest breaks and walked rapidly, much faster than my usual loping pace, and about an hour later I found Amanda sitting at a cafe on the beach drinking tea. Dammit! I was angry. Making me worry about her like that.

I couldn't stay angry long, though, because when I arrived she was practically in tears and obviously had cried earlier. What happened?!

And she told me that she didn't find Cafe Sol, and when she asked locals where it was located, none of them knew or could point her in the correct direction, and she was distraught not knowing what to do and hoping that somehow I'd eventually find her.

Well, I did. Eventually. I suggested that next time she had a problem, find somewhere to get online and leave me an email, though. A cafe, a library, a wi-fi hot spot somewhere. I guess she hadn't thought of that, though.

I was just relieved that Amanda was okay, and Amanda was relieved that I caught up with her, and all was right with the world again.

The trail soon left the beaches and started heading inland a bit, much to my disappointment. I liked walking along the coast. Ahead, late in the day, the Seashore Path would once again split off back to the coastline while the Coastal Path stayed inline until the two merged just before Esposende. Originally, I wanted to take the longer but more scenic Seashore Path, but after the fiasco this morning, we stuck together and took the shorter Coastal Path together.


Additionally, Amanda's feet were starting to hurt her bad. The first two days she had done great, and today we had planned to do only 4 kilometers more than yesterday, but apparently it was 4 kilometers too much because late in the afternoon, Amanda was limping slowly and practically in tears again feeling like she had failed me and because of the very physical pain on her feet.

I suggested that we stop and let her feet rest. She was going too long and far without a break, but Amanda didn't want to stop because it hurt too much to get started again. I understood that--been there, done that--but I felt a good, one or two hour break would have done her feet wonders. In any case, she refused to stop and kept limping along slowly.

A couple of kilometers away from the hotel we had planned to stay out I went ahead and left Amanda behind. It was sad to see her in so much misery, but I wanted to get to the hotel where I could drop off my pack, then go back to Amanda and carry her pack the rest of the way for her--which is exactly what happened.

Eventually Amanda made it to the hotel, but once she made it into the room, she was done for the day. She wasn't going to walk anywhere except the bathroom, and even then I suspected she was trying to figure out how to pee without walking to the bathroom.

I wanted dinner, though, and headed into town where I stopped at a cafe and had a sandwich, a pastry and a Coke. It was the first place with food I could find--nothing fancy! Then I returned to the hotel for the night.

And that was that. Amanda went to sleep shortly after I got back, and I played around on my laptop for much of the night before hitting the sack myself.

Nau Quinhentista

Ave River

Forte De São João


Fisherman Monument
No idea why this fish was sitting on the edge of a trash can, but it did give me a great photo of a fish! =)



A few of Amanda's photos when we split onto different paths in the morning.




And back to my photos after the two routes merged again.













This giant spider was awesome! I had no idea what it was, so I called it the "bumblebee spider" for obvious reasons. =) Amanda was less impressed, and seemed amazed that I even saw the thing near the ground in the brush as I was walking by.

No idea why this lettuce stuff was hanging from a stick on the side of the road. Looks like a warning from the mafia or something, right? =)




What a weird place for a tree!



Apúlia Church


It's a wasp nest! RUN!!!!



I found the fact that they colored this statue strangely disturbing.... I hadn't realized how much I liked statues being one color until I found this fully painted statue.



Bridge from Fão to Esponsende over the Cávado River (plus a couple of pilgrims from Finland).
Crossing the Cávado River
Sunset!

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