Mel's Healing Pilgrimage 2016

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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Camino 2017-09-21 Back to Basque Caminos

I woke up at 4:30am so that I could leave by 5am for my 5:45 train. What was I thinking? I didn't have enough sleep since I had a late night with my cousin. I was dogging it.

I walk the couple kilometers to the train station feeling fine. I skip coffee and just wait until I arrive in Santarém. When I get there, I walk up the hill and am immediately reminded that every town in Europe seems built atop a hill.

I explore Santarém and particularly enjoy the view from the Mirador at Portas do Sol. The view of the river valley was inspiring.

I grabbed my hot chocolate and eclair in the main square by the seminary. I overhear two pilgrims walking by asking for directions to Santiago. I didn't think about it but they walked off in the wrong direction and I wondered if I should have chased them down. I say my first prayer for the Camino, the ancient one for pilgrims, and I begin.

I took a photo of where the Caminos Fatima and Portugués split. As it turns out, the blue arrow in the section is also a yellow arrow as many more pilgrims are continuing from Fatima to Santiago.

I walked and appreciated my stroll through suburbs and seeing school children heading to classes. It reminded so much of my walk through Basque Country after leaving Lourdes. There, like here, I walked through villages and suburban areas along busy streets and even highways. It's why I trained walking along Pacific Coast Highway between Santa Monica and Malibu. I was frightened in France along the highway and I wanted to be less so this time.

Because of my lack of sleep, I paused at some picnic tables just outside of Santarém after just 90 minutes of walking. I was surprised to have slept almost 1/2 hour!

I then walk through largely unpopulated rural areas. Basically from 11:50am-3:30pm I saw at most 8 vehicles. I wasn't hungry so I just snacked on a granola bar to keep my sugars going. I drank my water but probably should have drunk more.

The plant life was lovely. Most of the grapes were already harvested but I still got to eat a few. Something about eating the leftover grapes just made me feel both humbled and joyful. And that joy gave me gratitude.

An old gentleman at one point in front of a Cafe Nicola corrected me when I said "Bom día". He said something something tarde and I just smiled. It was a few dozen meters away that I realized it was afternoon and he just wanted to point out that it's more like "Bom tarde" now.

I almost walked the wrong way at a fork in the middle of nowhere, and as I corrected myself, an old man came out from his shack of stuff and started chatting with me. His name was Francois and he offered a stamp on my passport for a donation. His place was covered with emails and photos of pilgrims from all over the world. He seemed happy to meet me, and he first thought I was Korean.

I passed an Asian woman pilgrim who seemed to prefer to be alone. I prayed for her safety and that she finds what she seeks.

As the clouds melted and the heat rose to 80F, I started to tire. Around 2pm, I split off the trail as I wanted to end my day in Pernes, knowing my later start today would not let me go all the way to the typical albergue site.

I spoke briefly with Stephen at 2:30pm, while I walked. When I got into Pernes, I got more water at a market and the merchant asked "Fatima?". He wished me a "bom voyage". I realized I still had another hour before my room reservation so I trudged on. I stopped into the church and had a quick prayer.

The cars were everywhere now. I grew tired. After I checked in to Hotel do Prado, I bathed, swam in the pool, and rested. Dinner options were weak, as the hotel was at a highway rest stop. The restaurant for the gas station served passable food but I was grateful. I ate my only meal of the day: two chicken cuts and some rice. I ate most of it, which is good for me since I wasn't particularly hungry. I find I need to force myself to eat when tired.

I reorganized my backpack to something more appropriate. You do that on these caminos. You learn what works for one trip may not work for others.

1 comment :

  1. Thank you, Mel. May you hear what God speaking through your heart of hearts.