Friday, June 9, 2017

Day 32: ‘Twas a Wet and Dreary Day....

Oct 18: I lingered at the hostel until nearly 10:00 in the morning—an extraordinarily late starting time for me! Now that I was back in Portugal and changed time zones again, it started getting light near 8:00. Normally, I’d have hit the trail then but I didn’t for two reasons this morning:

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First, it was raining. I hoped that if I lingered, maybe the rain would stop and I could start the trail dry. And second, I was in a hostel full of non-pilgrims who all stayed out late and therefore slept in late. I didn’t want to disturb everyone’s sleep by trying to pack up all my stuff. Stupid non-pilgrims! A hostel full of pilgrims would never have a problem like that!

In any case, a few of the others in the hostel started waking and moving around, and although the rain didn’t let up, I did have to get some miles under my shoes so I ate breakfast outside (under an overhang to stay out of the rain), then quickly packed my gear and hit the road at about 10:00. It was still raining, so I hit the road with my umbrella open.

I walked over to the cathedral—the official starting point for this new Camino walk—and started walking. I didn’t have to go in the cathedral since I had picked up my credencial the day before, and I followed the yellow arrows out of town.

It took all of about ten minutes before I missed a turn and the yellow arrows mysteriously disappeared, but I picked them up again several blocks away without any trouble. The trail took me by the Torre dos Clerigos, and the “Hogwarts” bookstore and other places I visited with Amanda 17 days earlier, but it was a happier time then. Amanda was around to chase away the rain clouds.

I didn’t go into any of those tourist traps this time around since I had already explored them earlier and kept moving. About a half hour after starting, the rain finally tapered off and I was a bit disappointed I hadn’t waited that extra half hour before starting my day’s walk.

The trail led out of Porto on busy, noisy roads that weren’t particularly interesting, but progress was quick. The rain held off for a couple of hours at which point my clothes had dried and thing were looking up. Then it started to rain again. Argh!

It was a good time for a rest anyhow since I’d been going non-stop for nearly three hours now, so I ducked into a cafe that popped into view just as the rain started coming down again. Inside, the place was packed with locals, so I selected a seat outside under a covered patio by myself. It was chilly out, so I put on an extra layer. I still preferred being outside in the cold by myself than in the noisy, crowded cafe.

I lingered there for about an hour, hoping against hope that the rain would stop… and it did! I figured I should get a move on while the coast was clear. I paid my bill and headed down the trail again.

I saw two pilgrims during the day. The first one was walking in the opposite direction as me—presumably following the blue arrows to Fatima and we said hello to each other but didn’t stop to chat. The second pilgrim I saw ahead of me on the trail in the distance, lugging the big backpack with a trekking pole. I was gaining on the person rapidly, but about five minutes later, he utterly disappeared. I don’t know if he ducked into a shop or cafe along the trail, or turned off onto one of the myriad alternative paths one could follow, but he was still a few blocks ahead of me when he mysterious vanished and I never saw him again.

The rain held off for an hour before starting up again. There weren’t any convenient cafes around this time, and it seemed too soon to stop for another break considering how recent my last one was, so I pushed on for another half hour before taking a short break at another cafe. I ordered a pastry and a Coke and waited around for about a half hour hoping the rain would stop, but it seemed particularly persistent now with no hint of letting up, and I stepped out to continue the journey. I didn’t have much to lose in any case since I was already soaking wet from the rain.

It rained non-stop the rest of the day until I reached Casa da Laura in Vilarinho. Casa da Laura was marked as a hostel and translates into “Laura’s house”— which turned out to be a surprisingly literal interpretation. I buzzed a doorbell and Laura answered the door and quickly showed me around the property. There were two buildings on the property. The one was her actual house where her and her family lived and we were not to enter. The other structure looked like a later addition that was then turned into the hostel it is now. The backyard was available for us to sit out and relax, which is where I wound up spending most of the evening instead of the cramped hostel.

Two other pilgrims were already there: a German who spoke absolutely terrible English and a fellow from South Korea who spoke absolutely no English, but I stunned him when—off the top of my head—I wished him a hearty “hello!” in Korean. It was the only word I know in Korean, which I learned during my previous hike on the Camino Frances four years earlier after running into all sorts of people from South Korea. (I wished the German guy a “Good morning!” in German, but he seemed less impressed with my language abilities—perhaps because it was late in the afternoon at the time.)

The South Korean guy told me he had just finished hiking the Camino Frances, then took the train to Porto to do the Portuguese Way. He showed me his first credencial and the stamp he got in Santiago two days earlier.

I pulled out my old credencial and pointed to the same stamp, also stamped two days earlier. We had both finished in Santiago two days earlier! Small world. There couldn’t have been many of us on the trail, and here were two out of three people in the hostel who had just done that.

No other pilgrims arrived, and I was happy with our small, intimate group even if I was the only person who spoke English well.  =)

This whole church is covered with these beautiful tiles! Very cool!

I don't think Disney would approve....

For a second, I thought Amanda was ahead of me! But sadly, no... she was already home.

Downtown Vilarinho.

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