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Caminho Portuguese Day 4: Valada to Santarem

”Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”

John Muir

Flood Wall

Last night we had one of those encounters that makes the Caminho fun. We stayed in a small town with an albergue (pilgrim hostel) that had the steepest set of stairs I’ve ever encountered. Frankly, if he had a rope handy I might have lowered Laurie and myself down from the top. And the bathroom…was downstairs. Good thing we limited our wine intake at dinner to make our nocturnal trips safe.

Speaking of dinner, we went to a small cafe recommended by our host. The hostess spoke no English and our rudimentary Spanish is, well…rudimentary. It is usually close enough to Portuguese to get us by. But we did manage to order beverages and dinner using a lot of hand signals and a bit of patience on her part. We got local fare that hit the spot and Laurie pulled up Google Translate to tell her how much we enjoyed it. Those encounters with locals make the hiking worth it.

Today was more farm country. Wild grapes, bamboo, and blackberry on the shoulders of the roads. And in the vineyards and olive trees you can see the fruit just beginning to grow. See below: Olives left, grapes right.

Halfway through our hike yesterday we started hiking along a flood wall that extended through most of our journey today. It rises ten to twenty feet above the road on the village side. Within villages, it is clean and easy to walk on. Outside, it sometimes dead ends in brush. It was apparently built to keep the Rio Tejo at bay, but there are plenty of buildings on the river side now. And at one point on the walk, we encountered a special swing for pilgrims. A nice spot for a break.

That part was pleasant enough, but most of our walk was on dusty farm roads frequented by tractors and other vehicles that kicked up clouds of dust that turned our shoes white. When we reached our hotel it looked like we had been working in a bakery. Fortunately. We traded in the pilgrim hostel for a nice hotel this night. The walk in shower and TV are bigger than ours at home. Pilgrims don’t need to suffer—all the time. And, it has some cool art made from wine corks. Beats poker playing dogs.

Wine cork art in our room

Several of you have commented on the videos we make with a user friendly software called Relive. Laurie puts these together which is a great way for her voice and sense of humor to show through. And, the division of labor helps us to enjoy ourselves more.

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