The hostel we’re spending the night at is great. The sleep in this hostel is horrible though. Why? It’s because of an Italian guy who’s sleeping under Jitka’s bed. He’s likeable, but ever since he got back around 11 p.m. from his walk around the city, I’m not so sure about it anymore.
I don’t understand why he won’t unpack his bedtime stuff before going out. He didn’t care that the whole room was asleep already. Fortunately, it didn’t even take an hour and he stopped making so much noise and went to sleep, too. Well, I miss the noise now. I’ve only met one guy in my life who would snore this loud. Jitka said she felt like she was on a boat. The sound of the snoring Italian managed to crush the structure of the bunk bed so that even the earplugs could do nothing. Fortunately, he was an early bird and his alarm clock went off around 5 a.m.
The fact that he let it ring for a while wasn’t as bad as the fact that he started making a lot of noise again. He spent the next hour or so carefully packing his stuff, whilst putting each sock, each piece of his clothing in a plastic bag. I don’t know, but I feel like that if someone got up with an intention to physically harm him right now, it would turn into a mass lynch and end up with a mysterious disappearance of one pilgrim.
After this Italian night, neither I nor Jitka can fall back asleep anymore so we just wink at each other and very quietly get off of our beds. We pick up all our stuff and go to the hall, so that we wouldn’t wake any of the sleeping pilgrims up. We don’t want to risk that the anger of the others gathered tonight will be expressed on the two of us. After morning hygiene and packing everything, we go and get breakfast to the upper floor. There is a peaceful silence everywhere and we’re trying not to destroy it. We go to the streets of the still sleeping city very quietly and following yellow directional arrows and scallops, we are heading towards a new journey.
“Instead of giving myself reasons why I cannot do it, I give myself reasons why I can.”
Getting out of the city takes a while, from time to time we have to check the direction by our phones, but eventually we make it and we’re on a trail in nature. We cross a really old stone bridge in the forest and then follows a road opening a beautiful view on the nature. The weather is on our side, it’s cloudy, and we wish it would stay this way for a while.
Water, water, water everywhere
The forest kicks us out on a road which leads us to the first village on the route. We discover a public drinking fountain there. We use the opportunity and drink as much as our bodies let us. We’d like to fill the water to our bottles, too, but the fountain is designed primarily for drinking, i.e. it’s gushing upwards, so it’s not easy to fill the bottles like this. After filling about a half of them we leave. At the end of the village is a next drinking fountain. If it continues this way, today’s route will be great, we’re thinking.
There isn’t another fountain in the next village and so we buy some bottled water in a café just in case. I don’t know, but even though there are St. James’ symbols on the café, marking the place as Pilgrims friendly, I still feel like the price €1,30 for a bottle with some high St. James’ surcharge. Neither the café, nor the service seem likeable so we don’t stay there for long and continue our route. We get out of the village and the road leads us from one hill to another and each is bigger than the previous one. Meanwhile, the sun is starting to fight its way through the clouds and its rays are waking up the nature around us. Suddenly, we hear buzzing and chirping sounds from the surrounding eucalyptuses. From time to time, our way gets crossed by big brightly colored butterflies.
The sun is starting to burn and it’s time to change our socks. As I’m taking off my shoes, I suddenly get interrupted by the pilgrim greeting “BUEN CAMINO”. It’s a pilgrim on a bike passing by us. We catch him up in the next village because he takes a quick break, too. After a while we see him for the third and last time that day. While he’s making the route easier for him by going on the roadway, we turn away to the forest road in the arrow’s direction.
Houston, we have a problem – there is no water
We’re passing by an old public washing house, which seemed like it was taken out of a medieval movie. Then there is a dusty road leading uphill through a eucalyptus grove. The heat and the road leading uphill drain our energy. The dust on the road is red and deep so walking in it feels like walking in the snow. The sweat is flowing from us and we’re grateful for every shadow we walk through. During the climb, Barča calls us and is surprised about us being out of breath. We’re finally up and the road is now going down. Our water supplies are slowly disappearing so we agree to fill the bottles in the next village.
But when we get there, there’s no chance to buy anything… Oh right, it’s Sunday… It’s literally dead here so we don’t even have the option to ask some native for a drop of water. It’s the same in the next village. According to the map there should be a café in the following village. However, all we find there are houses and streets with no life. But in the middle of the village there are two pilgrims lying down in the scarp. I recognize one of them. It’s a guy whom I’ve seen last night in the hostel in Tomar. We greet each other and keep going.
At the end of the village there’s a route direction pointer that says that if we’re really thirsty, we have to deflect 1,5 km from the route. The thought of extending today’s route with some extra 3 km just to fill water, not even being sure whether it’s open today or not, doesn’t seem so appealing to me. Fortunately, Jitka agrees so we go on. Meanwhile, she finds out that her map says that there should be a gas station in the next village. I don’t believe it’ll be open.
Hope dies last
We arrive to the village Pereiro after a few kilometers in the unbearable heat with only a few last drops of water and to our surprise, it’s dead here, too. Considering our water supplies, I feel like we’re the next ones to die, but then we see a sign Caffeteria in the distance, which pours hope into our veins. I don’t know if anyone can really imagine it, but in this heat the sign providing a chance has an unbelievable value for us. Nevertheless, it’s our hope.
Hope which dies with our arrival to the closed café. I feel like a child that ran to the Christmas tree only to find out there is no present underneath it. Fortunately, Jitka is here with me and convinces me to get up and go to the gas station that we’re still being led to by the map. We go silently as we’re getting dried out by the sunrays. I can’t get the thoughts of water out of my mind. I’m imagining us sitting by the pool and drinking water with ice. Oh, so this is what it looks like when you’re dying of thirst.
After the next about two kilometers, we’re standing in front of the gas station, not being able to comprehend it. It’s really open. We take off our backpacks and pounce into the refrigerator from where we take two Coke cans and big bottles with water. We must look like a looting gang. We sit on the curb in front of the gas station and suddenly the content of the cans is untraceable. I get back inside for a new batch of beverages, then we pick up our bags and leave to find some place with shadows for a 30 minutes long relax before continuing our route.
The only spot that seems useable is the ditch next to the road. We pull out our sleeping pads as imaginary blankets underneath a tree that serves us as a parasol, we take off our shoes and relax with the backpacks under our heads as pillows. We’re having a great time. From time to time a car passes by but other than that it’s calm here. The time is running though and we have to keep going. We clean up and go face the remaining kilometers.
We go on
Our legs are really sore at first but the bigger problem here is the sun and the extreme heat. So we use every shadowy spot we find to take a quick break and drink something. There aren’t many places like that here though. I’ve read somewhere that when “taking longer walks” the worst are the last 5 kilometers and it doesn’t matter if the person goes 40 km or 5 km. I agree. It’s about 5 km to Alvaiázére when we stop on a shadowy place by a route direction pointer which shows an albergue called Amigos.
The sign that promises us accommodation and a pool is like an invitation to paradise. Just in case, Jitka calls to the phone number that is written on the sign and after making sure there’s still free space for us two, we shorten today’s route and go towards the last 800 meters of today’s pilgrimage.
We’re in paradise
There is a British flag fluttering above the albergue Amigo, a pool on the garden and an accommodation in a building that reminds us of a barn because of its stone walls. However, a barn that’s beautifully clean and stylishly furnished for pilgrims. There are a few people resting on the beds when we get there. We don’t want to disturb so we pull out our swimsuit, clean clothes, shampoo and a towel very quietly nad carefully and then we go wash our clothes and bodies.
On our way from the bathroom we stop at the pool where we occupy two loungers and while I’m publishing today’s video, Jitka hangs the washed T-shirts, underwear and socks on the string in the speed of light. Then we finally fulfill today’s dream and swim in the pool. During our pool relax on the garden, the previously sleeping pilgrims (two Spanish couples) appear, which is a sign to us that we can finally go unpack our stuff.
After unpacking, we go ask the owner of the albergue if there is an option for a dinner. He shows us a sign with the food menu. Apparently, it’s tapas according to the English cuisine. With outstretched hands and stomach screaming with hunger, we just point at certain lines and alternately say “this, this, this and this please”. We sit down to the table and while the chef is preparing our order, the owner of the albergue brings us something to drink. After a few gulps the chef starts bringing the plates with a comment that we must be “very hungry” and “crazy” and fills our table with the ordered delicacies.
While Jitka is feasting her vegetarian meals and a fish, I have a plate with marinated ribs, pork chop, fried potatoes, etc. Etc. I might be gasping like a locomotive during the last bites but I hand in the plates empty. During our banquet, the next table is being occupied by the Spanish roommates. They are visibly inspired by our table, seeing their similarly “crazy” order. We finish our beers and after paying we go to our beds.
The Spanish people are right behind us and they start a conversation with us while making the bed for the night. They give us a gift – a talisman with the appearance of a small hand for luck and as a symbol of friendship. After reassuring them that we’re okay with them waking up at 5 a.m., we wish each other good night. We fall asleep very quickly because of last night’s incident and because of today being so challenging. We sleep very deeply but we can still hear one of the Spanish people slightly snoring at night. Well, tiredness.