Tuesday, September 18. This morning, I can’t say I “awakened” because I hardly slept all night. Went to bed at ten, woke up at midnight for the bathroom and then could not go back to sleep. I hate these nights. My watch and phone illuminted the time for me . . . 1:15, 2:10, 3:30, 4:25, and then thankfully, I must have had a bit of rest again, because when the phone alarm did its banjo alert at 6:45 (and then 7:00 and then 7:30), I groaned myself awake and staggered out of bed.
Packing up all the e-bag cubes into my backpack has become an efficient habit, especially since I typically lay out fresh underwear, shirt, socks, packet of pills, etc. before I go to bed. Ria had again scouted out a place for coffee and a pastry (I don’t like the Portuguese pastries all that much . . . too many with cream filling and not enough fruit!) so I sling/fling my pack on my back, buckle up, check the room one last time, and head out in the near dark hallways, hoping those automatic lights will go on as I hit the stairs.
Tiptoeing past the dozen or so young late-comers who ended up with places to sleep on the floors everywhere (geez, I’m glad I’m old and that I was early to register at the albergue yesterday afternoon), I make my way among the yawning and stretching pilgrims on the floor and breathe fresh, if humid, air out in the courtyard.
Lemon tea and an apple pastry (the best I can choose, I guess), and Ria and I head toward the sea, past those wonderful umbrellas, hearts, etc. decorating the old town streets, and finally, finally get to the water. The pattern for weather in the early morning is about 60 degrees, and 93% humidity so far. I have plenty of water, but even the sea walk requires a break every once in awhile, but for 5 hours I walk without seeing a café, a bathroom, a bar, a house or town, nothing on my way.
I sit twice on carved granite blocks next to boardwalks, finally making myself take off my shoes for a toe-rest, eating a piece of bread from last night’s dinner, ducking between the sea and one of those old stone buildings to pee, hoping that the “something up ahead” turns out to be an open place of business. But it never does turn out that way.
In that 5 hours with no bar or café, here’s what I noticed . . . cairns all along the rocky shore, lots of them. As I walk, noticing more and more of these carefully stacked flat stones, I wonder why I don’t stop to make one of my own. Just too hesitant to take off the pack, the jacket, etc. and take a cairn break. I talk with myself as I pass each one. Surely there is plenty of rock fodder which could be part of a personal creation. There’s a question to ponder as a metaphor for some other things I no longer do spontaneously.
Snails s-l-o-w-l-y trying to cross the boardwalk. I found this one and watched it for quite some time. Then I noticed ahead of me (and of it) that many of the smaller snails were smashed, most likely by bicyclists who were going too fast to notice these tiny round brown things. So though I know I can’t save all of them, and Imight be messing with Mother Nature, I carefully picked up Mr. Huge Snail and carefully put him back down at the coast-end of the boardwalk, Not sure how he will negotiate all that rock, but he WAS heading in that direction before I messed with him.
Finally I come to a café but it’s closed. I ask a local woman, headed for the beach, if she knows of something coming soon, a place I can sit and get some food. She points toward town, this one called Carreco, and says there should be something there. So I do as directed, my phone map showing a pharmacia and somewhere beyond, a café. By the time I get to the pharmacia, I’m too hot and tired to look for the café, which might be a block or twelve from there. So I walk in and wait behind an older man who is picking up about a dozen prescriptions. The young woman pharmacist carefully packages all the boxes and bottles into a paper bag that looks like it can’t possibly hold all of the items. The man turns toward the exit and the pharmacist looks up at me.
“I need a taxi to Via Praia de Ancora”, I say, and she smiles, points to the man, and says, “There is the taxi driver”, and calls to the man nearly out the door. He turns, looks at me, points to his waiting taxi in the parking lot, and I follow him.
Taxi karma? I give him the address of the apartment I have reserved for Ria and myself 8 km north, and he seems to know exactly where it is. Indeed, he drives to the entrance of the Apartamentos Turisticos, calls to a man washing his car next to the entrance, and the man turns and beckons to me. I pay my €55 and walk down the hall, open the door to what I consider an enormous “apartment” with kitchen, living room/bedroom, patio, and a very large bathroom. Wow . . .
Leaving everything on the bed and chair, I scout out a restaurant on walkway across from the beach. Before I left on this trip, I told my friend Judy that I would take my time, walk a distance that was just more than comfortable, and if I found a quaint little area, I just might stay an extra day . . . and THIS is the place, I’m sure of it.
At the restaurant, munching on a huge salad niçoise, I receive a text from Ria. She will be in the town in about 45 minutes. I tell her I will be able to see her from my chair at the restaurant, and will waive her over to my table.
Soon she is eating the other half of my salad, and then we both settle into the apartment, doing laundry, taking showers, etc. I tell her I won’t walk the next day, but will stay and write a bit.I take a nap (naps are underrated . . . I never take one at home. That might have to change), and we venture around the corner to another restaurant I discovered this afternoon, where a nice woman serves me sea bass (and I negotiated a salad instead of the punched potatoes). The fresh green beans aren’t even overcooked, though there is enough on the plate for three people. I eat what I can, we walk back to our apartment, and crash.
Really enjoyed this one! The 9 months I traveled solo throughout Europe I nearly always gave myself at least 3 days in the same place no matter how small the town or village … to hang up the clothes, make friends with the waiter, bartender, learn of the local finds that others miss.
Thanks, Gary! I never had the “permission” from an over-protective father to travel anywhere when I was younger. So I got married, to get out of the paternal circle and move to Denver. And I wondered who could possibly be responding to this post so quickly in the US, since it’s the middle of the night there. So happy to see that you are reading along!
See you in a month.
When I looked up Via Praia de Ancora on Google – the picture that showed up was green beans and potatoes! Bom Caminho, Joannah!
Enjoying your Camino, Joannah! Bonnie
I look forward to your posts – just like previous caminos. Enjoy your beach idyll!!
Those scary (to me) long stretches where you have no place to stop, rest, refresh…. there were several such passages on your last Camino. So glad you got to the pharmacy. Enjoy that beach apartment!!
Well, there WERE many pilgrims who passed me, and locals who were out for their daily boardwalk-walk. I COULD stop and rest, but not really refresh with a cold bottle of water or a chair. Just my now warm water and blocks of granite. Not scary in reality, just long and hot!
Wonderful to hear you had such a lovely place to land after a grueling day. Here’s to a day to just linger!