Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Day 10: A new walking companion and best city ever!

Sept 26: While eating olives with Daniel the evening before, we decided to walk together today. I was a little surprised that Daniel wanted to walk with me at all because I told him I had absolutely no desire to do big days. I wanted to take my time rather than the demanding pace he tried to keep, but I think he was ready for an easy day. The next stage of our guidebook would take us to Agueda, about 24 kilometers away, and it was the destination both of us had. At Daniel's pace, he would probably make it before noon. At my pace.... before sunset.

The day started misty and foggy.

But I was happy for the company so we agreed to walk together today. At least for awhile. See how it goes. And we started hiking a bit before 8:00. Daniel told me that normally, he'd have started at 6:00 when it was still dark out, so I was already slowing him down--but he didn't seem to mind.

When we left, the adjacent cafe was closed so there was no easy way to fill up our bottles with water. Unless you filled it up in the shower, I suppose, but that seemed kind of gross. Like drinking out of the toilet. So Daniel left the hostel a bit short on water. I had filled up my bottles the evening before and had plenty.

An hour or so into our walk, we reached a fountain where I told Daniel he could fill up with water. He dumped the little water he still had left out onto the ground, put the bottle under the faucet, pressed the button... and nothing happened! A look of horror crossed his face.

I was taking a swig out of my own water bottle at the time and spit it out--some of which came out through my nose from laughing so hard. Oh gosh.... that was funny. I imagined a cartoon where a character is walking through a hot desert and sees an oasis in the distance, pouring out the little water he's carrying only to discover that the oasis was a mirage. Daniel had that same look of horror.

Daniel didn't think it was so funny, but I was perfectly fine with sharing some of my water to get him to another source if he needed it. I wasn't worried. I was surprised no water came out of the fountain, though--it looked relatively new and in good shape--so I tried pushing the button myself and it didn't budge--not even a little. So then I tried putting a lot more force behind it and the button finally moved and water poured out. The fountain did work! The button to work it was just very tough to press.

Daniel filled up with water and we continued on our way.

After a few hours, I was ready to stop for a lunch break. We had been walking on mostly busy roads and through towns, but when the trail went out of town on a little-used road next to a eucalyptus forest, I found a small clearing in the forest and suggested we stop for lunch there. Looking at our maps, it seemed unlikely that we would find a better place further on. I pulled out my ground sheet and we laid down on it snacking and chatting. We stopped for an hour, just resting our feet.

Daniel told me that he usually takes no breaks at all when he walks. Goes non-stop from hostel to hostel, and this was the first time he had stopped for an hour in the middle of the day just to... relax.

"What do you think of it?" I asked.

"It's nice," he replied.

Indeed. =)

Daniel stops to take a selfie with the grapes.

Later in the afternoon, we stopped at a restaurant where Daniel ordered us bread and olives and a cold Coke. He ordered for us in Portuguese and did all the talking--the advantages of hiking with a Brazilian. I was curious about the differences between Portugal Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese. I assumed they would have different accents or different ways of saying certain words--kind of like the difference between American English and British English--but I didn't really know for certain. He confirmed that that was, indeed, the case, and the locals here could easily identify him as a Brazilian just based on his accent.

For whatever reason, the restaurant let us have the bread and olives for free. I guess Daniel is a smooth talker in his Brazilian Portuguese! They did have us pay for the Cokes, though, but Daniel insisted on buying mine as a thank you for hiking with him. I tried to insist that I was good for it, I didn't mind paying for the Coke, but he knew enough Portuguese to make sure that none of the workers at the restaurant would take my money. It was a nice thing for him to do.

I was surprised to learn that Daniel didn't recognize the olive or fig trees along the trail. The olive trees are darned near everywhere. Fig trees I didn't see as often, but they weren't that unusual on the trail either. So I pointed out and educated him a bit on the flora we were passing. At least the stuff that I knew. I didn't know what everything we passed was.

We arrived in Agueda at around 3:00 in the afternoon despite our breaks--it was a short day of hiking. In town, we stopped briefly at the river's edge just so I could take some photos and admire the view when a strange water beast making a terrific racket appeared on the water. It was some sort of contraption with a guy sitting on top and wheels that were spinning, and we weren't sure what the heck it was or what it was doing. Not at first, at least, and we stopped to watch it. Finally we realized that it was some sort of dredge-like device. It wasn't pulling up dirt and muck from the river bottom, however--it was pulling up vegetation that was growing underwater and along the sides of the river. We watched it for some time, fascinated by the bizarre device. I'd never seen anything like it before.

Eventually it moved across the river then downstream and we couldn't see it very well after that, so we walked into town where we got the most dramatic entrance ever into a city. A couple of streets off the main square were entirely shaded with bright, colorful umbrellas. Hundreds of them! Along the entire length of the streets! The sight was memorizing! We walked along it a bit, amazed at the view, and took some photos.

Then we headed to a nearby hostel I had looked up online the night before. I hadn't realized it at the time, but the hostel was almost brand-spanking new having opened just two or three weeks earlier. The place was absolutely spotless--I'd never seen a hostel that was so immaculately clean and fresh. The place also had private rooms available, but Daniel and I took a spot in the bunk room which was located on the top floor and overlooked the river and one of the umbrella-covered streets. The view was phenomenal! And, we were told, they didn't have reservations for anyone else who was planning to stay there so it would probably just be Daniel and myself in the room. I knew there were other pilgrims around, but presumably they hadn't discovered this hostel because it wasn't listed in any of the guidebooks yet. I only knew about it because I'd found it listed online the night before.

The room had two separate bathrooms so we were both able to clean up and shower at the same time as if we had private bathrooms. After dropping our bags and cleaning up, we headed out to see the town and be wowed by the umbrellas again. We looped around several streets finding another street that was covered exclusively in transparent umbrellas. It was an interesting effect, but I liked the colorful wonderland of umbrellas better than the transparent ones. The transparent ones aren't as obvious.

We stopped at O Fernando for dinner where I ordered a pork something or another... I wasn't entirely sure what it was, but it looked good. I was surprised when it came with French fries. Daniel had told me it came with "potatoes" so I was expecting a baked potato or maybe mashed potatoes or something. French fries hadn't jumped to mind, though, so I was surprised to get them. Not complaining, though. I was fine with French fries! Just not expecting them. =)  Bon Caminho!

We arrived back at the hostel after dark, and no one else had arrived in the meantime--Daniel and I still had the whole place to ourselves. Before going to sleep, Daniel thanked me again for letting him join me all day. I felt like I was taking credit for something I didn't deserve. I'd enjoyed his company as much as he enjoyed mine. The feeling was mutual! But we'd be parting ways tomorrow. He needed to complete about 35 kilometers to keep to his schedule, while I had a laughably short 16.3 kilometers I needed to get done--less than half his distance. We'd be on very different schedules tomorrow--starting with the fact that he intended to leave at 6:00 in the morning when it was still dark out. I didn't have a specific start time in mind, but it sure as heck wasn't going to be 6:00. I needed daylight to take photos. I certainly wouldn't be leaving before 8:00! So we wished each other good luck and goodbye before going to sleep.

Daniel is looking for a yellow arrow. *heh* I'm just kidding.... he knew the arrow was there and which way to go, but it does kind of look like he's lost, doesn't it? =)

I really liked the colorful clothespins people used to hang out their laundry to dry! =)

Chestnuts! Watch out, though... those spines are sharp!

The strange water-beast that was clearing the river of vegetation.

What an amazing welcome to the city! I was really excited at the idea of spending the night in this particular town! =)
View of the street below from our room at the hostel
Even this staircase was decorated!

This street was covered with mostly transparent umbrellas, but I liked the colorful ones better.
Daniel and I sit down for dinner! I wasn't entirely sure what I had ordered--Daniel told me it was some sort of pork and "potatoes." I was actually a little surprised when the "potatoes" came out as French fries! (Daniel's English wasn't super great. I could understand him, but sometimes I had trouble when he didn't know a particular word in English.) But I was okay with the French fries--just hadn't been expecting them!


Mary said...

I love the umbrellas over the streets! I'm no expert on the subject of hiking poles but Daniel's poles seem very short in both photos.

Anonymous said...

Umbrellas above the street must be some European thing - we saw something similar in Passau Germany.

- di and her guy

Heart Writer said...

I do daily puzzles, and one of my puzzles was a view of being beneath the umbrellas and I wondered how they got all those umbrellas to stay up, and who would take the time to do something like that, because the street looked long. Now I know it wasn't a Photoshop deal, but a true picture. Thanks for the education. I'm with you, though, the transparent ones aren't nearly so impressive. Also, thanks for the "above" shot. I had wondered, as I assembled the puzzle, how it would look from above the 'brollies'. Now I know. You're terrific to share your walks with us! Thanks