Learning to Walk 15

CAMINHO PORTUGUÊS – Pinheiro Da Bemposta

(19,559 STEPS – 14.65 KMS – 9.10 MILES)

“Every step is a revolution against busyness. Each mindful step says: “I don’t want to run anymore; I want to stop. I want to live my life. I don’t want to miss the wonders of life.”

– Thich Nhat Hanh

Fool in the Rain

I was able to drag myself out of my cozy room and get out on the Way by 8:30 am, cold weather makes me more slothful.

When I walked to the library yesterday, I noticed a pastelaria in the center of town. This fueled my hope during the cold, 4-block walk. It was open, and good, so good that I stayed for 2 café americanos and two fresh-baked pastries. As I sipped coffee and pondered life, it started to rain.

I knew it was in the forecast but had hoped it wasn’t coming. The choices are simple for the walker – hunker down in a good pastry shop or walk. I chose the latter. Must make forward progress, plus it was a very short walk today, less than 10 miles. I covered up and set forth.

Day 15 was a wet one from beginning to the cold end…

The Watermill

When I walk in the rain, my head is down, and the hood of my rain jacket obscures my peripheral vision. All that I see is the ground before me, and my shoes and pants getting wet. Well, that’s not entirely true, I did take a moment to look up at just the right time in Albergaria A Nova to see a café. I went in to temporarily dry off and enjoy an espresso.

Before I knew it, I was in Pinheiro da Bemposta, my stop for the day. My host in Albergaria A Velha highly recommended staying at the Albergue Moinho Garcia, an old, restored watermill. So, I slogged through the rain and the puddles, and then walked the extra 1.5-kilometers out of town to the albergue in the middle of the forest.

It was worth the effort. It is rustic, not off-grid, but not far from it. There’s a stream rolling through the middle of the property. It once powered the mills, now it’s just beautiful background noise for a night’s sleep. Also, bathing in the stream and waterfalls is a possibility, but not on this cold day.

The owner of the albergue is a cool German man, he chose to settle in the Middle-of-Nowhere, Portugal. He showed me around the facilities – where I would sleep, where I would shower, and the common areas of the old structures. The whole compound was awesome; however, I was a little worried because I was wet and freezing (remember my comfort parameters from yesterday?) and this place is rustic, no Central Heat. Adding to my woes, some of the clothes inside my backpack were damp from the drenching walk. How would they dry in these conditions?

One of the common areas is in the upstairs of one of the old buildings, the kitchen and dining area. In the corner of the room was a wood-burning stove, this is where I stood for most of my time here. I continually added wood to keep the fire burning and my clothes (the ones I wore) drying, all the while visiting with my interesting host. We were the only ones there most of the afternoon.

Later in the afternoon, a soggy Dutch husband and wife came in. Thirty minutes behind them, a soggy South Korean mother-daughter team. And that was our little family for the night. Unfortunately, the Dutch were also cold, so I had to share my fire space with them. I was a little surprised their comfort parameters were similar to mine. We kept adding logs to the fire to warm the cold room. At one point, our German host entered the room and exclaimed:

“Good Lord, it is sweltering in here!”

Sweltering has different meanings for Texans (and apparently the Dutch) and Germans. I promise, it was no warmer the 60° Fahrenheit in that room!

We enjoyed a warm meal of German Vegetable Soup and a perpetual Risotto*, followed by a fine bread pudding for dessert.

The first half of the day was a 10-mile solo walk in the rain. The second half, a fulfilling social event around a warm fire and a dining table. It was a good day.

The ladies stayed upstairs in the bunk room that adjoined the kitchen, while the Dutch man and I went down to our cold quarters. I went to sleep fully clothed, hoping the layers would keep me warm. An hour into my sleep I woke up in a sweat thanks to the heavy blanket on my bed. Nothing a quick stripping wouldn’t solve.

I drifted back to sleep with the blanket pulled up around my ears and the sound of the rushing stream right outside my window.

*Email me for details, it could revolutionize your eating habits.

Under a tarp at the watermill, staying moderately dry.

Bunkbeds in an albergue on the Camino de Santiago.
A view from my cold little corner of the room.




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