Saturday, October 1, 2016

20 or so Miles to Viana do Castelo

 Towns becoming more pilgrim supportive.

                                       St. Iago

Once again,  the planning of our walk in order to cut down on some of the long stages needed to catch up with itself. We are using an outdated Brierley guide that basically leads through the interior route and is outdated even a year after it's printing since things are changing so rapidly on this pilgrimage. On one hand that's kind of exciting.  Not knowing where the hell you are or where the hell you are going in a foreign country.  We all get our thrills in different ways right? 
Actually John has downloaded a map of the coastal route but it's just a map and doesn't include any commentary. He works very hard at staging for us each night for which I am grateful.  We tried to call a Residencial accommodation in a town halfway through the long stage to Viana do Castelo but no English spoken. So, it's over 30k there since we took a light day yesterday. Just nothing between here and there!   We've done it once we can do it again.  Oftentimes it's definitely a mindset that gets us through.  If I have to,  I will.  Plus let's get a nice hotel and stay for two nights as a reward! Can you say incentive?

We packed sandwiches from breakfast and some tarts (natel) that are filled with custard. Set off down to the Atlantic and headed north.  At one point we needed to get back to the official Camino route to avoid heading smack into the river. We just didn't feel like fording anything with packs. We have crossed some interesting bridges on this trek.
Stopped at a pilgrim café called O Lampao, off the Camino a little ways.  The proprietor was so nice.  It's nice to once again feel the spirit and support of the Camino.  We ordered two large cervejas and ate our sandwiches.  Got a stamp for our pilgrim passport and a sticker.  I gave the guy a Colorado postcard that I brought along for just this purpose.
Walked our way through little villages and some pretty cool hiking paths through medieval forests with beautiful ponds and streams.  We came up out of the woods onto a street with a gorgeous old church dedicated to St. Iago. Santiago.  Right before then,  I received a text from our son who had a doctor appointment the day before to go over his year post transplant testing results. All is well. No sign of disease.  
We entered the quiet, dark empty church and I sat down in an old wooden pew. I looked at the main altar and where Christ is usually there hung on the cross,  there stood an effigy of the master pilgrim with his robes and gourd staff looking down upon us. I remembered our pilgrimage 3 years ago and when we reached the city of Santiago as tradition holds,  I put my arms around the statue of the saint for blessings and miracles and absolution to be received for the suffering I had endured.  I really couldn't think of any way I could be more blessed in that moment than to have reached this place after a month of walking,  in good health with my best friend on this life journey. 
As I sat in this church that we had come upon three years later right after receiving the good news from Jack,  I just cried. If I thought any of the legends held any credence,  I thanked St. Iago for his miracles and blessings held in wait for when we would need them these years later. What a blessing to be able to come back and make another pilgrimage in thanks for blessings received. I think I am becoming catholic! Not really but I carry thoughts of blessings of love and healing and healed vision for loved ones at home. 
Made it into town to our three star hotel, were given a certificate for free bebidas (drinks) if we ate at their restaurant AND fado!  It was a woman singing and so soulful and beautiful.  We couldn't hold out for dessert so fell back into our room exhausted and looking forward to sleeping in.

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