Day 15 – 25th October 2016, Mealhada to Agueda.
Close every door to me
I couldn’t help but replay this refrain in my head from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, by Andrew Lloyd Webber. I often find melodies or song lyrics pop into my consciousness when I’m walking…like a soundtrack to accompany my weary pilgrim footsteps. OK, so I might run the risk of being a tad repetitive here, but I do find it very odd, that numerous places of worship along this Camino route – the Camino Portugues, and also along the Camino Frances trails are closed during the daytime on a major pilgrimage route.
It would be so lovely just to venture inside the miniature chapels for a few quiet moments, to sit in silence, be still, listen to my inner voice, light a candle for loved ones or offer up a prayer. Perhaps local people are worried about burglary or vandalism, which could explain why the churches and chapels are shut, or maybe they don’t have volunteers, who could welcome pilgrims and keep an eye on things. It just strikes me as strange.
Anyway, having said that, instead I am content to draw close to my divine creator, when wandering through the Grand Design of nature. This revelation, poured out of me in yet another poem called “My Soul Sings” during my first Camino in 2015. Today was no different, once we had trekked out of the suburbs of Mealhada and wended our merry way in the early morning light, through Sernandelo, Alpalhão, Aguim and into Anadia. Here we stopped for a proper pilgrim breakfast at the local pastelaria
No pain, no gain
I must admit, I have been struggling on this Camino, which I have found somewhat tougher than the Camino Frances. I could probably attribute this to my lack of training, compared to my first Camino. Also I naively thought that my Saucony Peregrine 5 trail runners, that had carried me for 900 km from St. Jean Pied de Port to Muxia would last a second Camino. How wrong I was! The foam fell out of the heel supports and rubbed up two nasty blisters, hence I ditched them in Tomar, bought new Saloman trail running shoes and have been breaking them in. Breaking new footwear in is not a wise thing to do on a Camino! My right foot has been in agony and it feels as though the small bones and tendons in my foot keep popping out of position and seizing up.
Anyway, my lovely husband, Brett, has kept me going with his cheery, positive outlook and words of encouragement, as well as kind, loving care and regular foot massages. I am really grateful for him in my life and having this opportunity to walk the Camino Portugues together. Although it is a challenging walk, mainly because of the long stages in between rest points (owing to a lack of albergues en route), we have been walking through some stunning countryside and we are looking forward to walking the coastal route from Porto in due course. Can’t wait to walk by the sea…
I’m thankful too for the chance to rest a short while in Anadia and then it was time to get moving again. Today was another long stretch. Ultreia through Alfeloas and an unattractive industrial zone before snaking back through greenery to Avelas de Camino, where we found a marker indicating that we were only 303 km away from Santiago de Compostela. Woo hoo! Stormin’ norman, we are making progress.
A couple of kilometres beyond Avelas, stands the proud Quinta da Grimpa, amidst vineyards of the Barraida grape.
Our remaining 8 km or so walk of the afternoon, seemed to go on and on, through Agueda de Baixo, Barro and Lugar de Sardão, before descending towards Rio Agueda and into the main part of Agueda town centre itself. We experienced a hot climb out of the town up a long hill to reach our destination, Albergue Santo Antonio, another one of Pedro’s recommendations.
Santo Antonio, the Patron Saint of Portugal
Our albergue, nestled behind the Residencial Celeste on the left hand side of the main road going out of town. A tad hot and sweaty, we tramped into reception and received a warm welcome. We paid our 12 euros each for our beds in a small dorm in the albergue. The receptionist led us around the back to the albergue and showed us round. Wow, wear a beautiful, tranquil, clean and inviting place! This was probably the best albergue we stayed in so far.
We had a lovely, homely, 4-bed dorm room to ourselves on the first floor, that was light and airy, with wooden floors and comfy beds. The shower and loo were spotlessly clean. The laundry and kitchen were on the ground floor and there were plenty of places to sit and relax in the garden or on the balconies. Immediately we felt at home.
Santo Antonio, is the patron Saint of Portugal. He was born in Lisbon in 1195 to a family of nobility but chose a studious and spiritual path by joining the Franciscan Order. He is considered to be many extraordinary things, most commonly the keeper of lost things or the patron saint of lost causes. In fact, I remember Saint Antony from my childhood, when my Nana and my mum, both used to pray to him, to help them find something they had lost. I understood then that many an ordinary-day-miracle could happen, when the lost item seemed to re-appear later on, much to their relief!
In Portugal, however, Santo Antonio has several roles, including that of a defender of animals, a healer, the guardian of good marriages and the protector of the souls of purgatory.
Feeling a bit like a lost cause myself, having brought on my foot problems, through my own neglect and stupidity, I was content to be comforted in this remarkable home from home. Brett and I went grocery shopping in Lidl, next door and cooked dinner. We were delighted to discover our German, pilgrim friend Marion had also checked in, so we invited her to join us of our evening meal, washed down with a tasty Portuguese red wine. Table fellowship is one of the hallmarks of any Camino pilgrimage and serves to create bonds of friendship across, time, space, national borders and world views.
Distance walked today = 27 km
Cumulative distance walked so far = 326.88 km
Peace, love and light,