21 May 2014
This morning I resisted the urge to get up on waking – not too hard as I could hear the rain belting down outside. The Australians James and Fitz, were up first and left about 6 am.
I was next up and just as I was ready to leave, Claus the Dane was rising. The others seemed still to be in the land of Nod. There had been a gentle symphony of snoring during the night, but nothing too hard to cope with. For all I know I could have been part of the chorus!
I come across the Aussies along the way, and ask James to take a photo of my rain cover in use. Last year on the camino Frances I found that a considerable amount of rain leaked through my quality rain jacket. My theory is that the rain gets in where the straps of the backpack are tight against the fabric of the raincoat. The solution is to wear a poncho which covers the hiker and the backpack in one go. Although I think they look ridiculous, I had decided to buy a poncho for this camino, after being soaked through for several days on the Frances. But I had also thought about making a cover for my shoulders that would attach to a pack raincover and somehow tuck in around the sternum strap.
Meanwhile I purchased a pack cover (I had borrowed one from Ella last year) but when I got it home I realised that it was intended for an 80 litre pack whereas my pack is 35 litres. And then my brain started ticking over. Luckily Ella was visiting me in Spain at this time, so I had someone practical-minded to help me make the ‘Magnificent Maggie Shoulder Cape’. In reality I cut through the excess fabric of the cover and sewed some Velcro to the edges that fasten under my chin, and some anchor points to my pack. Here is the result, which I think works very well. I have walked through some pretty heavy rain and have not suffered any leakage. Perhaps I should apply for a patent!
I made another adjustment to my rainwear today and cut a small hole in my rain jacket pockets so that I can thread through the waist straps of my pack to fasten inside the jacket. This causes still less friction between straps and waterproof fabric.
By the time I stop for a break after 9 km I have been walking in gentle rain on a mixture of surfaces, very little so far on fast roads, mostly through very pretty villages and farmland with some tracks.
As I walk into the cafe it is very dull but the rain has stopped for the time being. I order a savoury pastry and hot water and as I am writing this the rain has started to come down again quite hard. I’m in no rush so will sit it out in the cafe for a while. I am only travelling about 20 km today. This is purely so that I can stay at Casa Fernanda in Lugar do Corgo tomorrow night. This place is reported to be one of the highlights of the camino Portuguese. And in order to make the km’s work out right, today will be a short stage with a stop at the albergue of Antonio in Pedra Furada, another place recommended for its hospitality and the excellent restaurant that he also runs.
How about this for good timing? As I am sitting in the cafe the heavens open up, first firing a barrage of hailstones, and following through with a torrential downpour – lucky I’m not in a rush!
Once the rain lightens up I set off again, and am soon walking on tracks through farmland and then through woodland, when briefly the rain stops and the sun breaks through for long enough for me to get busy with my macro lens.
It seems that every Portuguese home has a dog, which are almost without exception chained up and like to give the impression that they would rather like to take a chunk out of the backside of every passing pilgrim. Today I came across the exception and I could tell from a distance that he just wanted to be friends and receive some fuss. I duly obliged and was rewarded for my efforts with much wagging of tail and appreciative nudges.
I am loving the way they grow grape vines in this area. They are grown around the perimeter of a crop field, on long trunks of two meters or more, trained onto frames projecting towards the centre of the field. Often the ground below the vines is used to grow vegetables whilst a grain crop is grown in the field. Excellent use of space!
When passing through the town of São Pedro de Rates I came across this sign indicating the remaining distance to Santiago as 200 km, so another eight days to go.
I have met my first English pilgrim today, although one that lives in the US. I also spent half an hour walking with another Australian, until I reached my destination at Antonio’s bar in Pedra Furada. I have to say that the excellent reputation of this small albergue is well deserved. There is one room with two bunks and another under-bed mattress for emergency use. This room has an amazing bathroom, that anyone would be proud to have in their home. There is also a twin room with ensuite next door. All for 10 euros per bed, and including fresh linen and towels. I have hardly had to use my sleeping bag on this journey. There is loads of info and reviews on the web if you search ‘restaurant Pedra Furada’, tel 00351 252 951 144
I am made very welcome and after a wonderful shower I wander into the cafe and sample the pilgrim’s menu, soup followed by pork with potatoes and salad. Excellent!
Oh, I forgot to mention my disaster yesterday. I was looking for a dry place to put my iPhone when I dropped it screen-side down on the granite cobbles. The screen is smashed to smithereens. Luckily James the Aussie kindly donated his screen protector to help hold it together for the rest of the journey. Thanks James – I really appreciated this act of kindness.
I really enjoyed the walking today, even when the rain was pouring. So far I am on my own at Antonio’s – hopefully others will arrive – he says he has been full for the last few days.
Well, the place is now full. The twin room has three people (not sure how that works) of unknown nationality, European it think. I have been joined in my room by a Canadian couple who are just walking a few days of the camino, and a young German woman who has been walking the coastal route from Porto. Not the party atmosphere of last night, but I can’t expect such a great crowd of people every night.