“The only things here are – good food, good wine and good people – well almost…”
12 April 2016
I write this a few days after arriving in Rabaçal which is the origin of the title. I arrived here in time for lunch – because – I simply could not finish the walk today.
The weather was wet once again. The clouds had descended on me just as though I were their best friend and they could not get enough of me. The cafés en route were closed as today was market-day in Alvaiàzere. My feet were killing me as I pounded yet more roads.
I suspect that the constant wet weather has allowed me to get an infection in my foot. The weather is cool, but my right foot has its own heating system – but no temperature control…
Anyway, this morning, I surrendered to my feet when offered a ride to Rabaçal.
As I arrived outside the church, a car pulled up and a woman deposited 3 newly- born kittens by the roadside, then drove off. I wondered for a second what was going on. No one was there waiting for these kittens. Slowly I realised. She had left them to their fate – ie to die. Heartless b*****d. Still – she must have had her reasons, and who am I to judge. I put them in my cap ( that is how small they were) and carried them into the village museum beside the church which was the only place open. The lady inside was a kind soul. The kittens were mewing with hunger. She showed me where to buy milk, but we needed a pipette to feed them. She called her friend who knew what to do. We kept them warm until her friend arrived to take them to her home.
I may have failed to finish this stage – but at least there are three kittens alive as a result. They say He moves in mysterious ways. Who knows…
The lady in the museum, who spoke no English and I, who massacre the Portuguese language daily, managed to piece together our words. She recommended ‘O Cantinho de Clotilde’ for lunch. A small restaurant owned by her friend. “You will not be disappointed”, she promised me.
What an eye-opener! It is a very small place. Coommunal tables. All the men from the fields of olives, of vines and of the cheese farms came here for lunch. Only thing to note – speak Portuguese or starve…!
This is the cuisine de ‘grand-mère’. Expect nothing fancy – just expect something good.
Limited menu – but GREAT – menu. I had Galinha – farmyard chicken. Tough – but tasty. The other clients were kind and by the end of the meal I was getting free ‘agua dente’ (also known as Rocket Fuel). I later met an English trio who live here and I explained the Camino to them as it is still an unknown to many who live here. There are so very few pilgrims on this route. Having said that, I have now encountered, at last, the ‘professional’ pilgrim. He walks the way to Fátima on behalf of Christians who have pledged themselves to walk to Fátima, in return for some favour or miracle, but have not the time to make their promise good. Hence they pay someone to do it for them….
No further comment.
I will rest my foot for the rest of the day, and set off for Coimbra tomorrow.
Sorry to disappoint anyone with my ride to Rabaçal, but I have limits to the pain I can withstand – and today I reached them. At least I feel happy about the outcome for the kittens. I did not feel like taking many photographs today.
Please do try to stop off in Rabaçal – for lunch preferably – if you can. The people are lovely to meet, and the local food and wine are superb.
However – I shall be true to the Camino. I shall return to Alvaiàzere in June to repeat this leg – and – I hopefully enjoy the hospitality of Clothilde once again.