The HEAT is on….
05 Sept 2016
39,873 steps / 34.43 km
Barcelos really is a lovely little town. The market square is huge and we walked across it just after dawn. The ‘downtown’ streets were adorned for the weekend’s Saint’s day/ Festivities.
Walking through the suburbs, I got the feeling that this is a reasonably opulent town. We have finally seen some cattle, but far from grazing loose, these were for bullfights and still fed on the maize of the area.
The route today followed tracks through the eucalyptus woods. Once these fields must have been part of wealthy estates, judging by the ornate ironwork gates,now left unloved to rust. A great pity and my ‘Ozymandias’ moment of the day.
There were no ‘pit-stops’ for at least 15 km. I was drinking more and more water, and trusting to the kindness of locals to top up our bottles. Most were kind to two thirsty pilgrims. We slowed in proportion to the rising temperature but managed to find a small café in Balugães where they made sandwiches for us.
We passed a wonderful ‘swimming hole’ – a natural basin in the river. People cooling off from the sunshine in cool, clear water. A lovely place with people there – but not one hint of commercialisation. Great for such a natural place, but a pity for us as a cool drink would have been very welcome.
Meanwhile, the temperature continued to rise. A thermometer showed 35°C at 12:30 with the hottest still to come.
On the path north from Balugães there are some drinking water taps. We were desperately trying to conserve our water so tried these. On opening, most just hissed heated air, but gave no water. We would stop in any shade we could find to let our bodies cool even slightly. In this way, we reached our destination slowly, to Vitorino dos Piães where we found a second café and rested with cold Coca- Colas. Never has anything tasted soooooo good. We talked with a mother and daughter from Toronto who still had 12 km to walk. The mum looked shattered but she was determined to continue. We had ‘just’ 5km to walk to our accommodation at Quinta das Sobreiras, a lovely farm building. We reached there after a slow plod along the lanes. Shelley was truly suffering by the time we reached our stop for the night.
As tomorrow is forecast to be even hotter, with one of the steepest climbs of the whole Camino, I am going to change our plans. We shall make tomorrow a very short day, and stay in Ponte de Lima, just 7km further on. Shelley can rest and then be ready for the next day – again foreshortened.