CAMINHO PORTUGUÊS – Calvinos
(22,491 STEPS – 16.98 KMS – 10.54 MILES)
“When we first learned to walk, we walked just to enjoy walking. We walked and discovered each moment as we encountered it. We can learn to walk that way again.”– Thich Nhat Hanh
The Improper Beginning
If you have read anything I’ve written about my journeys on the Camino de Santiago, you will know that a cup of coffee and a pastry are requisite for a proper start. This morning in Tomar was no different, I strolled to a nearby pastelería for my morning fix. My first preference is always the napolitana de chocolate. If that’s not available, I’ll have a croissant simple. If either of those aren’t available, it’s open game.
This morning I was distracted from my normal selections by a delicious looking apple turnover, a rarity. I ordered the usual cafe americano and pointed at the turnover of my desires. She started the coffee and put the turnover on a plate as I nestled into a table in the corner facing the street, I like to people watch as I slowly come to life. When coffee was ready, the nice lady brought the whole order to my table. Bon appetit!
I took a sip of my coffee, delicious. Next, the prize, the rare apple turnover. The nice lady had heated it for me. I took a giant bite, and…
¡ ¡ ¡Yuck!!!
Turns out the turnover was not apple at all, but from the other end of the taste spectrum…it was a tuna turnover!
After a few minutes, I was able to regain my composure and control of my gag reflex. I like tuna, but it is not an apple substitute. Now that my mind was conditioned to the reality of the tuna turnover, I ate and enjoyed it. It would make a fine lunch sandwich, but it was an improper breakfast treat.
After breakfast, we made quick tours of the 16th Century Jewish Synagogue, the Templar Castle, and the Convento de Cristo. Then it was time to head to Santiago.
It was an easy walk out of Tomar, the shell of St. James and the yellow arrows were everywhere. It was a comforting, familiar guide after the trailblazing we had done to get to this point.
On the outskirts of Tomar, the Way joins the Nabão River and follows it for a few kilometers. It’s a good trail, passing a couple of waterfalls and a few places to stop and enjoy the beauty. When the path left the riverbanks, it resumed the normal, hilly walk through the forests of pine and eucalyptus.
Our planned stop for today was the little village of Calvinos. After 3 very long and difficult days, we decided to take it easy, just 10.5 miles. It was a rest while maintaining forward momentum.
We arrived in Calvinos in the mid-afternoon and found our albergue just off the Camino. It was the newest, most-modern building in town. The entry gate was locked but there was a sign that said to call Hipolito at the number provided. We called and 5 minutes later, a little farm truck pulled up and Hipolito got out. He gave us a tour of the nice and clean and efficient albergue. Then he told us how to get to the bar and market. Then he gave us the keys to the kingdom and drove off to wherever and whatever he was doing before 2 strangers walked into town.
This albergue made no sense from an economic standpoint. It was new, with modern facilities, roomy, and had an efficient design. It also has only 10 beds, for rent at 7€ per night. On this night, there were 4 of us – Doug & I, a lady from Austria, and a young lady from Italy. Total income for the day, 28€. I don’t know what the operating costs for a day is, but this is not a viable business.
But those are the thoughts of a USAmerican, where everything is a commodity, and everything’s value is tied to a dollar amount. I try not to impose these thoughts on the Camino. Here the goal is hospitality and Calvinos (a benefactor, a foundation, the community) created a good place for strangers. Who cares if it’s profitable…
Oh yeah, they also provided a large bowl full of lemons and oranges, free of charge (this is not a huge gift, lemons and oranges grow here like cedar trees and cactus in Texas, but still).
After settling in and getting our laundry hanging in the sun, we hobbled into the village in search of the bar and market. We couldn’t find the market, so went into the bar. I asked the old bartender if she could direct us to the market. She walked away, I assumed she was going to find an English-speaker to help us, we leaned on the bar.
A few minutes later, she came out of the back, and with a bony finger, summoned us to follow her. She led us into a dank little back room, the town’s market. The room was no larger than 12′ x 12′, but still had about everything a pilgrim would need to make sustenance for the evening.
Back at the albergue, we ate our cobbled together meal, then gathered blankets and chairs, and went out into the cool evening to watch the sunset.
or anything that adds blessing, variety or wonder to the day!