Friday May 18 Caminha to Valenca (Day 5)

Distance and time wise, we are past the half way mark. Our feet have learned the hard way that the distances listed for vehicular traffic on freeways and tarred roads are meant to lull you into a false sense of anticipation.

The guidebook indicated today’s leg would be 30km/18miles. Joon’s Fitbit showed us that the distance covered was 34.7km/21.7 miles. We left our Caminha lodging at about 8.15am and reached Valenca at 6.30pm.

We met Marie and Piet in the lodging’s breakfast area. They are from Namibia, Africa and were on their 4th Camino. They were taking the ferry to Moledo, for the Spiritual Variente route of the Camino Portugues. They walked to enhance their spiritual selves and have grown in such. Joon and I respectively gave each of them a Guido-stone. Thus, all 4 stones with their blessed wishes and intentions have been cast into the Camino pool, rippling through other lives.

Marie & Piet, Camino peregrinos.

Getting to the Yellow Arrowed Road took us via one of the municipal albergues, with its dormitory bunk beds. We met Marina, camping on a piece of lawn outside the front entrance. They had no more room.

Marina was well prepared with her tent, and seemed none the worse for sleeping out. It had warmed up considerably since we left Porto. What an adventure for her!

We met Pawel from Poland on the trail (we chatted with him in Viana do Castelo city center) who too, faced a full house situation in the albergues as he had arrived late in Caminha. Fortunately, that albergue called around and found him a bed.

Walking on the bridge out of Caminha provided some scenic views of the waters and the distant hills.

Life abounds in this waters, but one must stop and observe.

We had been taking pictures of churches as we journeyed these past few days. We have started seeing tiles where Saints have started being depicted, such as St. Antonio, St. Bento, etc. For those not familiar with Saints in the Catholic world, we believe their saintly lives have elevated their souls and they are in heaven. We also believe they can ‘intercede’ on our behalf, which is why you see Catholics venerating and praying to them. Some Saints have miracles attested and verified. Despite me knowing this, I was surprised when I started seeing local provincial churches in Seixal region honoring St. Bento, one church figuring St. Bento in the main altar. That triggered a consultation with Dr. Google, and I found out that St Bento is St Benedict. Wow! Now, I have to really read out on St Benedict’s life when I get back to Seattle.

St. Bento/Benedict.

It seems appropriate that at this half point in our Camino, that we do a Mid-Term Examination of what we have learned so far.

  1. Greeting Others with Heart. We found that several elders outside the city center, greeted us (in exchange), with such gusto, some with smiles, that the spoken words carried a depth of wishes that positively touches our hearts. Side note: Check out Masaru Emoto’s research on how the human spoken words affect the molecular structure of water, or why people talk to their plants!
  2. Arrows and X’s in Life. As a Camino pilgrim, one quickly learns to scan down the road, especially at junctions and roundabouts, to know which is the right road to take. Seeing further beyond the immediate 6-10 feet ahead of you. Thus, seeing a X on a pillar 50-100 feet away on one of the roads in a 3 way junction, rules that out. Seeing an Arrow on the remaining option confirms that to be the route to take (the 3rd is the one you are on!). One could apply that to Life. For example, if I knew that this current discussion with Joon is going to lead to some emotional exchange, some hurt feelings, why then do I want to continue down this path, even though the ‘X’ is flashing caution, danger? Is my Ego or Pride more important than the Relationship that I committed to? One can apply that to other aspects of Life, e.g. a course of Action or specific Behaviors. After all, aren’t we all endowed/blessed with brains that out performed all other living creatures on Earth?
  3. Getting Lost Happens. Despite Eagle Eye Joon and my own pair of eyes, despite seeing Arrows and X’s for about 48 hours over the past 4 days and this morning, we both missed the turn off this afternoon. It was a painful uphill mistake. After a bit, Smart Joon asked why we weren’t seeing any more Yellow Arrows. Less Smart Ben responded, trust that we are on the right track. But even Less Smart Ben finally threw in the towel, and banged his hands on the wrestling ring mat. We consulted Dr. Google, and there was a forward path to the freeway. Or we could back track. Hmm….would the Yellow Arrowed Road expose us to vehicular risks? With my best Yoda voice, I boomed to Smart Joon, “Track Back, We Must.” And we located where we missed the turn off. Why did we miss it in the first place? I was heads down writing some notes, Joon was on the other side of the path focused on that side. Doesn’t this sound so like Life? That something takes our focus away, and, boom, we are ‘lost’. Some questions to ponder. What or who are the Yellow Arrows in our Life journey? What or where is our Safe Harbor where we can re-trace to resume our right path? Finally, for those of us blessed and with hearts large mmenough, how can we be Harbor Masters for those seeking Safe Harbors?
  4. Passing the Baton. I had to cultivate and nourish a Type A Personality to do well in my career. It’s my second skin now. Fortunately, Joon is not a Type A, and I won’t fall into a trap of classifying her. So, Type A will walk their normal pace uphill and wait for their slower partner. Rinse and repeat. I was guilty of that, and decided to walk behind Joon when we are going uphill. That way, she doesn’t have to feel a need to keep up. In Life, Type A should also let their Partner lead in situations that they agree upon.
  5. Purging Batty Conversations. Everyone instinctively ducks when bats are flying overhead. Joon and I had a great conversation on this topic during a walking stretch. She shared how a particular phrase I tended to use, gets her batty. So, we shared what words or phrases tends to evoke a response/reaction. Banish those phrases or words, and peace will reign in the partnership. And increase the ratio of ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ in our conversations!

As we walked through this stretch, we observed that dogs tended to bark more as we neared and passed, especially the tiny ones. This was not the case in the earlier stages. Some dog lovers say that if their tails are wagging while they bark, then, it’s a friendly greeting. Perhaps some humans behave this way too?

Jose was sitting on the steps of the Yellow Arrowed Road. He was delighted when asked to be photographed. He invited Joon to sit, and we will send him a print when we are back.

We passed a stretch of homes where every house’s garden was planted with vines. My theory is that they have grapes with every meal during harvest time.

Here is a close up of the grapes forming.

I love this tile of Mother Mary with thorns around her heart (message from Fatima). I found it when we were ‘lost’ at one stage. Was that the reason for straying off the Yellow Arrowed Road?

A tile of St. Bento. He’s quite popular in the Seixas region.

The missed turn off to the left. We went right, and uphill for about 10 mins before back tracking.

Views from the hill top. What struck us was that it was not over-built. There were many areas where the houses were spaced further apart.

It was another serendipitous moment. We stood in front of a church, St..Pedro, discussing whether we should try a side entrance to see if it was open. A gentleman approached us, and spoke in Portuguese. He invited us into the church and explained they were busy decorating the church for a festival this weekend. Here are some pictures.

Altar being decorated with flowers.

A favorite.

It was the second longest day, on a much hotter day. We realized that while wearing sandals allowed the feet to ‘breathe’, it was harder on the legs. Joon felt some calf cramps coming on as we were in front of the lodging. A shower freshen her up, and we adjourned for a Portuguese dinner (somehow, the meals in the smaller towns are better).

The next day will be the start of several short stretches, a welcome change from these past 5 days.

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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