Day 5, Morgado to Santarém, 17 km

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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

About magwood

Trepidatious Traveller - camino blog is about preparing for and walking the Camino de Santiago. Many future pilgrims have found the blog useful and inspiring, and many who have no plans to walk the camino have simply enjoyed the dialogue http://www.magwood.me
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34 Responses to Day 5, Morgado to Santarém, 17 km

  1. cindy jones says:

    Wow what amazing poppies…….

    Like

  2. David Wolfe says:

    The GPS is a system is controlled by the US military and is very accurate although they build in a tiny percentage of error, in my experience about 100m in 150km I’m glad that you are getting along so well and the route is not as hostile as you were led to believe but is it hotter than expected.
    I love all the pictures together with the text. Keep walking and keep blogging David

    Like

  3. DrewFamily says:

    Love taking this Camino with you in real time! How you find the energy to present such beautifully illustrated, inspiring words along the way is beyond me. You are inspiring, Buen Camino

    Like

  4. Jim Reed says:

    “I do like to know how things work!”

    So do I. Thanks for the beautiful photos and interesting info on the palm beetle and tomato planting process.
    What type of camera and photo editing process do you use? You may have explained earlier but I just started following your blog for the CP.

    Buen Camino.

    Like

    • magwood says:

      Hi Jim. My new camera is a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1. I am very pleased except that the on/off button is in a very counter-intuitive position and I keep turning the damn think off instead of taking the photo. Very frustrating. Hopefully I will eventually learn to move my finger over.
      I am resizing and cropping in the app ‘photo gene’ and putting the grids together on ‘photogrid’ both free I think on the iTunes App Store.

      Thanks for your comment, I really appreciate the input.

      Like

  5. The poppies are breathtaking. All you photos are fantastic to view.
    Forgive my ignorance but I have a question. Carrying an umbrella for more shade may be an inconvenience but would one of those hat-umbrellas be of any use in the blistering glare and heat of midday?

    Like

  6. Keith says:

    GPS is very accurate. How long is it before you remember to turn it on? Anyway, loving your blog. Almost feels like I’m there. keep it up and enjoy it. Great adventure. I’m jealous.

    Like

  7. jmcmil says:

    I’m so happy you are as good as you are at blogging. You make the reading easy and informative :-). More great photos by the way and the poppy ones …………. Wow!

    Like

    • magwood says:

      Hi John, good to hear from you. Not long for you now? Hope you have a fabulous time – you have been waiting long enough! Buen camino, Maggie

      Like

  8. Heather says:

    So interesting Maggie and wonderful photos. Shall look forward to more. Love Heather xxx

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  9. The description of the planting is very interesting. That is the beauty of walking – you can watch and think and see again the next day, which allows you to ponder and learn. I was also interested in the photo apps, which I’ll look into. Finally, I looked up “trepidation” to confirm my understanding, and must say that you don’t seem trepidatious at all. You seem very calm and confident!
    – Clare

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    • magwood says:

      Thanks Clare. I started the blog and chose the title before my last camino, when it was particularly apt. I must have learned a lot on that journey! Although I have to say everything has fallen very well into place on this camino, and it makes life very easy when you have a great companion!

      Like

  10. Moira O'Malley says:

    Maggie, I look forward to your blog every day! Beautiful photos and words. I will be leaving for my Portuguese Camino in a few weeks. I hope the flowers are still around when I am walking. Bugs, is there any need for bug repellent?
    -Moira

    Like

    • magwood says:

      No Moira, thanks for your comment. I got a few bites on my arm, probably on the first day when we were walking alongside the river all day. Nothing since. Some repellent might not go amiss, if you can afford the weight.

      You must be very excited, are you starting from Lisbon?
      Regards, maggie

      Like

      • Moira O'Malley says:

        Hello again Maggie, yes, I am starting my camino from Lisbon on May 27. I had planned on doing the coastal route after Porto, but a friend has suggested to go inland. As far as insect repellant, I would rather not carry the weight. Like you, I did the Camino Frances last year, and was pleased with the minimal weight I was carrying, I bought a visor today, to try your method of a sun hat, as opposed to the light-weight, wide-brimmed hat I used last year. Moira

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      • magwood says:

        I got bitten a couple of times last night, but our room was very close to the river. The visor works great for me – put it on in the morning before I start walking and it stays in place until I finish for the day. There is no protection for your scalp though, so in very hot sun you may need to have a scarf over your head. I wish you weather as good as ours – I think it would be a very different walk if it was cold and rainy.

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  11. I hope you write with a very large iced something to hand? It’s a lot of effort after a long walk in the sun!

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    • magwood says:

      Hi Nancy, a few cool drinks usually find their way into the equation. I am loving the bubbly vinho verde. A bit more expensive than the ridiculously cheap spanish cava I am used to, but worth the sacrifice!

      Like

  12. Marianne says:

    You are doing an amazing job with such detailed blog posts each day, Maggie. Well done 🙂 It was fascinating to see the tiny tomato plants being mechanically planted – had no idea about that.

    Buen Camino 🙂

    Like

  13. Jo Bryant says:

    Those poppies are so beautiful. One of my favourite flowers. I loved reading about the tomatoes…favourite food in the whole world. And so many of them.

    Like

    • magwood says:

      I could live on tomatoes Jo – it was very interesting to see them being planted, but it would have been good to be able to pick a few fruits.

      Like

  14. Henk Slabbekoorn says:

    Dear Maggie, yesterday I saw your question about the GPS system. To be honest, I had seen it before, but now I started thinking about it. The GPS system is alright, but I am in doubt about the way programs on our devices are using this system. Anyway, according to the 100 m signs on the dyke of the Westerschelde (Netherlands) where I was walking with a loaded backpack for training purposes, I found the actual distance walked to be 21,2 km but MapMyWalk made it 22,7 km. So today I installed two other GPS apps on my Android phone and used all three while walking the dog. And, presto, the distances measured are not the same. One says 2,73 km; then the other 3,01 km and MapMyWalk thinks it should be 3,13 km. I am inclined to believe the 3,01 km to be the best–behind it is Geo Tracker.
    Once I have a little bit more time for measuring I am going to try it out over a longer distance to make the uncertainty smaller.
    And, as far as these apps measure altitude I must say the results in my case are worthless. Along the dyke I am within a few meters of sea level and certainly not at about 55 m as GeoTracker and MapMyWalk want me to believe. Plus the changes in level while walking on a perfectly horizontal road are absolutely impossible!
    Buen Camino this coming April, Henk

    Like

    • magwood says:

      Hi Henk many thanks for taking the time to write this comment, and I look forward to your update.

      You might be interested in this thread about gps that I started on one of the Camino forums

      Like

      • Henk Slabbekoorn says:

        Follow up. Today I tried the GPS apps while driving my car. Not too fast (30 to 50 km/h), but as long as one is not above 80 km/h there should be no problem with refreshing the location–even when these apps are made for walking people. On my Sony device the difference between the apps could amount to something between 5 or 15 percent depending on … Yes, on what? I don’t know, but I know now one can not really trust these apps if one wants to know the exact length of the trail. And certainly not the altitude. For now, I rest my case. Henk

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      • magwood says:

        I am now using wikiloc which seems to be in line with dedicated GPS units. I still like mapmywalk though for the announcements every km. Many thanks for your input here Henk.

        Like

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