After a good night’s sleep in our lovely room, we had a leisurely start when we met with Mario at 7:30 for him to deposit us back where he had collected us yesterday. And off we went, in much cooler weather – 14 degrees when we set off.
We were walking on a sandy dirt track that meandered between vast fields. After a short while we came across this Quinta, which was still in use and well maintained. Most of these properties are deserted and in danger of tumbling down.
Unfortunately I have seen dozens, if not hundreds, of dead Phoenix palms on this trip. I presume that, as in Spain, they are being attacked by the palm beetle which bores into the tree and kills it. It is such a shame to see these majestic trees completely massacred by these horrible pests, leaving a trail of destruction behind them. If you look at the palm in this photo, you can see a mechanism for spraying the crown of the tree against infestation.
We are still passing field after field of tomato plants and I can now give you the full story from delivery van to fully performing growing fields. We have seen some fields being planted by hand, but I was sure that the planting must mostly be mechanised. And today we saw how it is done. A tractor pulls a trailer that has seats for three workers to pop the baby plants into a shute. The trailer is loaded with thousands of plants in polystyrene trays and it moves very slowly along the ploughed furrows on automatic pilot, as the driver starts the engine and then jumps out and works as a quality control supervisor behind. At the same time irrigation pipe is laid down alongside the plants. The guy(s) behind check all is well, popping in an occasional missing plant and every so often covering the pipe with soil to keep it stabilised. The photos show two different gangs, the second lot of ladies gave me a cheer and a wave when they saw I was taking a photo.
I do like to know how things work!
We also passed by many fields of vines today, and had our break in a vineyard, leaning against an old finca in the shade. No boots off today though – it was all too dusty for my bare feet!
As we are returning to the same hostel this afternoon, I left some of my stuff on the bed and so had a lighter pack for a change, but still had to carry plenty of water, as there is no chance of a refill on this section. I have to say, it didn’t feel right to be travelling in a car yesterday and today. I remember last year when I got on the bus back to Santiago from Finisterre that it was the first time I had been transported by anything other than my own feet for five weeks. I shall only be able to boast of three weeks this year.
As usual, the flowers were stunning. We passed a poppy field the like of which I have never seen before. An incredible pop of colour. Absolutely fabulous.
When we were not too far from Santarém I noticed an open gate and peeped inside, and discovered a lovely cool courtyard with the most amazing wisteria growing against the wall. It was huge and obviously ancient and provided a wonderful canopy of shade. We cheekily snuk in and sat down to have a quick break. People were working in the enclosed garden beyond, but they didn’t seem to mind the intrusion.
After this it was just another half an hour or so back to the hostal, albeit a steady climb uphill. Although I shouldn’t complain, there is almost no elevation to this walk.
It was a pleasant, easy day, but I am glad we split the stage into two, it would have been very hard going to do this at the end of a long day in the very hot sun of the afternoon.
Tomorrow we are getting back to normal with a 30+ km walk to Goléga. We are planning a pre dawn departure, so not too much wine for me this evening!
Since using my gps tracker (although I have yet to remember to turn it on at the very beginning of the walk) I can see that it tells me different distances from the guide book. I am using the John Brierly guide and he seems to consistently calculate the distance short by a couple of km’s. Can gps systems lie? I am using ‘MayMyWalk’ – any feedback appreciated.