At last – a fellow pilgrim
(but not a fellow…)
23 June 2016
I left the route yesterday and that made it difficult this morning. The morning was one of low cloud/high mist. I felt like I was playing ‘chicken’ crossing the N1. I chose pedestrian crossings near to the roundabouts but still got horns blaring. Road speeds here are high, and probably the least tolerant drivers yet in Portugal.
I left the N1 as soon as I could. A track lead through the forest along the side of a little used local rail line. I met a woman clearing the path to her house and asked her if she knew where I could join the Camino. She did not know about the Camino, but had seen some yellow arrows when I explained what I was looking for. It took a little track navigation, but I found them after a couple of kilometres.
I walked along the country roads, dodging the – IMHO – high speed traffic. People waved some interesting hand gestures to me, so out of politeness – I naturally waved the same gestures back….
I met the owner of the Albergue at Albergaria-a-Nova. I asked him about breakfast and he invited me into his house. He and his wife and sons made me feel very welcome. As I was leaving, another Pilgrim!
Cheryl Lee already knew of me from reading a visitor note at a small bar in Alfoléas. We had been leap-frogging each other – and now we had finally met up. We decided to walk together for the next 14km.
It is astounding the difference that walking in company can make. Cheryl is a very sweet young lady and Chartered Accountant from London. Very clever and witty. The kilometres just flew by. Walking along the roads with her brought out the ‘dad’ side of me as I tend to be protective towards ladies and always take the outer position or front position when walking by the roadside or on roads. (Note – This was how I was taught a man should walk when walking beside ladies. It confused Cheryl no end when we crossed roads, but that is how I am wired…)
Walking on the roadside where necessary attracted more waving especially from one young male driver who was clearly unhappy when I returned his wave. Normally the drivers in Portugal have been fast but respectful. This change seen since Mealhada is not what I have come to expect from the very hospitable people that I have met throughout Portugal.
Cheryl and I parted company at Oliveira de Azeméis. Her schedule calls for her to get to Porto tomorrow evening so she had to press on. We shall probably not meet again, hence I wish her a Bom Caminho.
One thing that Cheryl had also noticed were the dogs. As she said – if you can be scared by dogs, then this is Camino can be more intimidating than the Camino Francès. My advice – walk with sticks – not to hit the dogs – but they do tend to make dogs want to back off.
I am treating myself to the 4 star and excellent Hotel Dighton. Well worth that bit extra to give yourself a treat.
If you are reading this Cheryl – let me know how you progress.
Now – time to watch the results of the Brexit referendum.