Monday, 20 July 2009


Having stolen a pear and leaning on my bordon in abject misery, an angel appeared. She was wearing a red and white checked shirt. "Are you O.K?" she asked me. I said that I didn't think I would make the last 11 kms (I had already walked 22) and that my guidebook told me that there was a private house nearby where the owners took in pilgrims. "That's my house!" she said, and picking up my pack she led me to Heaven.

If you are walking the Camino Portuguese just before Vitorino, between Barcellos and Ponte de Lima, when you get to a little white bungalow on your left, look out for an angel: she'll probably be wearing red. It seems to be her favourite colour. If she asks you in, go with her.

When will you get the next chance to enter Heaven?

Once seated in her kitchen with a glass of very cold water, Fernanda introduced me to a Canadian woman called "Charlotte" from Nova Scotia. She was peeling potatoes. "You seem to know your way around," I commented. "I just got here," she said. It took a while before I was to learn that she had met Fernanda while walking the Camino Portuguese some weeks before and now was coming back to stay for a few days. She had been learning Portuguese.

A room was prepared for me: "You must rest". A double bed was dressed with white sheets. I was horrified! "I can't get into that bed with these feet!" I indicated two items at the end of my legs which looked a bit like the potatoes I had seen outside in the wheelbarrow. I was led to the bidet: "You can wash them in there if you like."

After though, I was too intrigued to sleep so Fernanda made me put my (cleaner) feet up in the living room where there was no-one. I felt like I was in a dream - heatstroke no doubt... After a while several other dazed pilgrims appeared and for a little while it was organized chaos. Sofas opened into beds, mattresses appeared from no-where, doors were opened into upper rooms and aforementioned dazed pilgrims were told to rest.

I returned to my room expecting it to be full of pilgrims, but no, it was still mine: "For as long as you want". I offered to help prepare the meal but was roundly told off and directed to the outside and told to put my (blistered and very swollen) feet up.

The pilgrims were all from Belgium. Charlotte spoke perfect French, Fernanda Portuguese and Spanish, me Spanish and English. Jacinto - Fernanda's wonderful husband - didn't speak much at all: he just poured the (homemade) wine. After the aguardiente one of the pilgrims (was it Vincent who had appeared so shy?) began to "play the mouth trumpet": honestly he could have been Miles Davis. The Belgians began to sing French songs and then we all trouped off to our respective quarters.

I for one slept like a baby.

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