Wednesday May 16 Esposende to Vila do Castelo (Day 3)

I woke up and checked my feet. Happy happy, the swelling had disappeared. I kept to my decision to wear sandals. And diligently applied Foot Glide. The swelling didn’t not reappear at days end.

The distance today was 25.6km, similar somewhat to yesterday, Day 2. We had the best breakfast spread at the hotel, and chatted with Tom & Debra from Australia. They were on a 8 week extended holiday, having spent 2 weeks in Israel earlier. They opted for an organized itinerary for their Camino, since anyone would have difficulty trying to plan 8 weeks. It’s unlikely we will run into each other as their Camino is all along the coast, while we will head inland at Caminha. We started at 9am and reached Vila do Castelo at 7pm. We must have wandered into the Twilight Zone without realizing it! There’s a logical reason for the time – there were a few, no, make that, many uphill stretches. At least three of them were on hard tarred roads/concrete sidewalks. At least three of them were uphill on dirt trails, which are un-even. And of course, there were rocky down hill stretches that one had to be careful to avoid twisting the ankle. TIP: Check the elevation map for the day’s route. We knew beforehand this was an up and down walking day.

Within 5 minutes of leaving our hotel, we couldn’t pass up this photo-op.

Today is our lucky Irish Day. We met 3 different groups of Camino walkers from Ireland. A couple, a group of 3 ladies and a solitary guy. We need to phone our kids to buy a lottery ticket for us! More about some of them later.

We walked through a residential area for about 30 mins before reaching a cobble path with trees on one side, and open ground on the other. We took the opportunity to sun my socks which had not dried.

We finally used the safety pin that’s recommended in the forums! And yes, I am wearing the 4th pair (for the bean counters among you). 🙂

This section is not a trail through a forest, more a cobble stone path. So, nothing really attractive and most would speed by it. But Eagle Eye Joon spotted two creatures on the trees. Here they are.

The only family members who will know the name of this green adorable Pokemon are my kids.

Hello Kitty, fancy meeting you here!

I am sure you can draw your own Camino lesson from this. The pace of life that we choose, can cause us to miss things.

As we headed into a residential estate, we could not avoid this chapel built between the entrance and exit roads. The residents probably contributed to it, a testimony of the community coming together.

Inside this tiny chapel.

We were looking forward to getting our stamp at Iglesia Marinhas, but unfortunately, there was no one around. It was a lovely church and I attach one of my favorite interior picture.

Under-exposed to create the dark edges, and highlight Mother Mary.

We met the Irish couple at a cafe near this church (the first group of 3 ladies had zoomed by us on a hill earlier). Tom suffered from arthritis but had recovered sufficiently to do the Camino with his partner, Siobhan. They are cyclists but decided to walk. Siobhan promised Tom that they would stop every hour and a half, which explained our leap frogging back and forth. Mind you, despite his arthritis, they put on a mean pace while we tortoised on. They are both on the Camino for spiritual reasons but they were turned off by the commercialism they experienced in some pilgrimage sites and routes. And they are totally leaving their accommodation unplanned, trusting and looking forward to the adventures they will find.

My mother’s favorite prayer is the Divine Mercy, which we picked up two years ago when we visited her. I promised her that we would say it on the Camino for her. As I mentioned yesterday, my eyes have already become attuned to the various pictorial tiles placed on house and building walls. Imagine my surprise when Eagle Eye Joon (she was walking behind me!) pointed out this Divine Mercy picture of Jesus, which is the only one we had seen throughout these 2 days. Unfortunately, it was blocked by the lamp as you can see below.

Best angled picture I could take from the road.

As I was standing outside the wall taking the picture, a lady driving a car slowly pulls up and asks Joon who was further ahead at the house gate, what was I doing. Joon explained that I was taking a picture of the Divine Mercy tile. Well, it turned out that this lady was the house owner! I wasn’t going to be shy if the Spirit was intervening. So, I asked her if it was okay for me to enter the garden to take a close up. Now, realize I am speaking English, and she’s not entirely fluent in English. She nodded her agreement and opened the gate. I entered the house compound and approached the garden but I backed away as I realized there was no path to the front of the house without going inside the house itself. The owner kindly showed me how to get through her flower bed as there was one small section which had been pushed away. Here’s the close up of this tile.

The two rays represent the Blood and Water gushing from the heart of Jesus.

Is this just a co-incidence? If the owner was a minute earlier, she would be in the house, oblivious to us outside. If she was a minute later, we would have walked further away from her house, satisfied with the first picture. As we are on a spiritual pilgrimage, we believe its the Sprit that is accompanying us. Joon commented that this morning’s walk is unusual too, in that the bells have rung as we approached or were just minutes earlier. One church rang its bell as we literally pulled up at its entrance, at high noon. Discerning the Spirit requires Faith, but also an open heart, and open mind.

One thing I must highlight about some of these residential estates is this. They keep to their agricultural and farming roots. Namely, we will at times, see sizable vegetable plots among houses. In fact, the cobble stone road took us to a plot where sheep were grazing.

I did not carry a telephoto lens to take this picture!

Note the vegetable plots being grown next to residences, not farm houses!

In USA, we use the term, ‘curb/kerb appeal’ to denote the visual attractiveness of the house from the road. The Portuguese homes here win hands and feet down. And yes, you wine lovers, you spotted your favorite fruit.

This was actually taken the day before (Day 2) when we used Dr. Google Maps to navigate a shorter route through agricultural land than through residential streets. I was struck by the manual implement being used to bore some holes in the ground to plant the seedlings. As we walked further from here, we met a lady farmer on her tractor. She thought we had lost our way, and pointed to a direction back to the paved roads. We persisted with Dr G, and continued down more dirt paths. And shorten our route. And arrived to continue down the Yellow Arrowed Road.

This was our first wooded section (may add names of location/district after we return to Seattle). There was a nice monument to depict the Santiago route.

I am pointing to Porto, where we started from.

Talented Joon wrote on this nice pebble she found in the vicinity. We subsequently placed it in a niche in the monument (after adding the word ‘Seattle).

This stretch was no longer the Yellow Arrowed Road but the Dangling Caution Tape Paths as they were draped from trees, branches along the way to show the way forward. The trails reminded us a lot of the Pacific NorthWest trails. Lightly packed dirt trails, not much undergrowth hampering one’s walk, sunlight streaming through the trees.

This was also where magic occured. Magic as in un-explained, not as in sleight of hands illusions. Deeper into the trails, we came to a stretch where it seemed powerful magic had occurred before. The remnants seeped into my body. I was possessed.

As Beloved Joon caught up with me, I took her hands and looked into her eyes. And I apologized three times to her. Three times I asked for forgiveness, and three times she forgave. So, the slate is renewed as we approach our 34th anniversary, on the same day that Prince Harry and Meghan undertake their wedding vows.

To be truthfully, it wasn’t magic, but the Holy Spirit.

This stretch skirts along Rio (River) Nieve near the end. We could hear the river falling over. As we paused, Irishman Eamon turned up. We merely greeted each other before we moved on. We would chat more and walk together later.

This wooded trail ends in a delightful stone bridge. It’s really refreshing and we rested to have a snack, as we had powered on without lunch.

Extremely restful spot; budget time to soak in the beauty and tranquility of this spot!

It was probably 10 mins after we had reached this spot when Eamon turned up (by then, I had assume he had gone into the river at the spot we first greeted him). He took some pictures and laid on the bridge, sun bathing. Later we would find out from Tom that Eamon had a bad back, and needed to relax it.

Regardless whether Eamon’s back was acting up, this was a terrific way to do the Camino. Eamon lying on the bridge, with the sun, rushing waters, ionised air. Creating special memories, not achieving a speed record.

Tom & Siobahn properly introduced Eamon to us in front of an alberque further up, where they had a sign for a self service stamp. Eamon and us walked a bit together and chatted.

Eamon has the ability to travel now, and he had heard about the Camino from his sister who had done it two years ago. We got to chatting in general. Then without any prompting from us, Eamon brought up a point of view that for some couples, it’s better they do the Camino separately. That was an un-expected topic. I reflected on that, and responded as follows. It may be that couples might have to do the Camino separately at first but when each person changes as a result of the Camino, they should do it as a couple, to enhance the relationship. He reflected on what I said. My impression was he had other couples in mind, but Intuitive Joon thought otherwise. Who knows.

There was an uphill stretch over a pebbled path. If one is heads down or eyes straight ahead, one will miss this nice tiled picture of St. James (St. Tiago) as one has to look sideways/backwards to see it.

This is why I carry my point and shoot camera, as this picture is an aspect ratio of 1:1. In other words, Instagram sizing.

To end the Irish story, as we exited one of the forested trails, and rested a bit, the first lady of the 3 Irish gals bounded by. When I inquired, she said her two friends were behind. Those two other Irish gals caught up with us as we were re-filling our water bottles and water bladder. One of them provided us this great idea. TIP: Cool the water bladder in the refrigerator beforehand!

We chose an Airbnb for the night in Viana do Castelo due to its more central location. In addition, we wanted to meet some locals. This intuition turned out to be a blessing. Joanna the host was away in Italy and her best friend Guido hosted us instead. The house is a beauty, filled and decorated with art and artefacts. The wooden floors were covered with rugs and carpets. The fixtures were period pieces. It was a wonderul ambience.

Guido is an artist, a theraputist.

Guido near his ceramic art work.

Guido passed us some of his pieces to spread human caring. While we will keep two pieces for ourselves, we are to pass the others on via a hug and the story. How lovely.

Well, we have to hit the road….so, I will end today’s post though I may have more to write.

Blessings be with you, as they have been with us.

p/s. Joanna had walked the Camino several times. She had this book in the guest bathroom that we used. Co-incidence or a sign?

Author: Ben & Joon

Residents in the great Pacific North West. Living life as it happens, learning our purpose and trail blazing our own paths. Namaste.

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