When Enrique leaves, it’s really dark outside. As I look at the phone, I find out it’s 05:40 a.m. I wonder whether Jitka is still asleep and that if she’s not, we could go, too, when I hear a quiet calling from downstairs. She asks if I’m awake and if we’ll start the route already. The goal of today’s is in Sernadelo.
„ One of the best things about traveling is finding out how many good and nice people there are out there.“Edith Wharton
So, all I need to do is pack the sleeping bag, brush my teeth, go to the bathroom and then just quietly go downstairs to Jitka and we can go. Outside awaits us our traditional small warm-up to stretch our legs and then we’re already on our way through a cobbled street. I ask Jitka how she slept and she answers that terribly. She hasn’t slept much again. I stop to tie my shoes. Those rascalls keep untying. As I bend over, I hear approaching steps.
There is three of us
I raise my head and see it’s Mary coming. She’s happy to see us. I quickly swap face expressions with Jitka… face expressions full of questions. Do we let her go first or do we ask her to go with us? Even though we wanted to go alone, Mary is a likeable woman and we feel like after what happened to her on the pilgrimage, she’ll welcome our presence. So, we ask her if she wants to join us for today. She nods happily so we start our route richer of one member.
Coimbra is still asleep at this time so there is not a single soul in the streets, only a car passes by occasionally. It’s a big difference, to remember how alive it was here yesterday during the day and how it’s now. We’re going by a river and there’s no direction pointer in sight. It makes me a little shook when I find out the route leads around the other bank of the river. Not very happily, but I announce that we’re going the wrong way. Fortunately, we can see a bridge in the distance which we eventually use to get on the right side and continue in the direction out of the city.
Mary, a member of our camino family
Meanwhile, Mary is talking about herself so we learn that she teaches English in Egypt and that this is her second Camino. Both the time and the kilometers pass quickly thanks to the conversation. The sky is cloudy but we know that it won’t last and the sun will be frying us again soon, like it did the past few days. After roughly 10 km a big roadway hill appears again. We can see a pair of pilgrims ahead of us in the distance. I’m convinced that it’s Enrique with Tonya so when I feel like they’re turning around, I wave at them. Then a turn comes and they disappear from my sight. We’re finally up. The small church is just striking an o’clock.
We’re passing through a village where there’s not a single soul again. On the left side there’s a Caffeteria. The right time for coffee and breakfast. There are two pilgrims sitting on the garden already. They’re the ones I’ve mistaken for Enrique and Tonya. These two are South Koreans. We greet each other and then we go inside to order coffee and something to eat to it.
Then we sit on the yard, too, when suddenly Enrique and Tonya arrive. They say they’ve already had breakfast in Coimbra and then got lost for a bit. However, they decide to have a coffee with us anyway. Tonya has bites in her face so we ask what’s happened. Apparently, the night was terrible… She says someone was snoring really loudly and on the top of that she woke up bitten like this in the morning. Apparently, there was a bitten Spaniard sleeping above her. So it’s clear the Spanish woman wasn’t able to get rid of those beasts. Jitka was really lucky again then, since the rascals left her alone. During the coffee time, we shoot a video saying hello home. We’re slowly packing when another pilgrim arrives, a young Danish guy Jannik. We recognize him as the pilgrim we were walking behind just before Anciao.
Enrique and his wife are the first ones to leave the breakfast meeting, then the South Koreans and then us with Mary. Meanwhile, the sun has won over the wall of clouds again and shines over the way for us. Unfortunately, the next few kilometers lead over a fairly busy road so we’re always glad when the route goes through nature for a while. I don’t know why, but the natives in these villages indulge in sculptures of dogs from concrete. It takes me a while to get used to these motionless guards of the local buildings. All the more bigger shock comes with a sculpture of a dog that moves and runs towards us to the fence. Mary prattles something and even without the knowledge of her language I can imagine what she just said to the dog.
We see something like a bus station in one of the villages which provides us the very needed shadow and plastic chairs that lure us to stop, take a break and have some snacks. We can’t resist and sit down, take off our shoes and relax. At least that’s what we planned to do, but a local grandpa comes up to us and initiates a conversation. We’re trying to tell him that we don’t understand a word he’s saying but he obviously doesn’t care. Fortunately, he moves on to Mary with his language. She resigns after a while and just smiles and nods.
After a few minutes this local narrator leaves and Mary asks us what did he want. We laugh about it together and slowly pack our stuff. Suddenly the Dane Jannik comes and switches us with the chairs. When we’re leaving, I turn around to check that we didn’t leave anything there when I see the local narrator coming up to Jannik. I can’t help but laugh at the thought of the interview that’s awaiting him.
We go on and after a while we stop by bushes with tremendous blackberries. They’re beautifully refreshing and kind of sweet, too. Jitka and Mary say otherwise after tasting them but in my opinion they’re delicious.
Mealhada – piglets, piglets, piglets
Mealhada is a pretty little town. We’re going around a beautiful, old and richly decorated building in which there’s a pharmacy. Awesome. Then there’s a fountain with tile mosaic. Suddenly, Barča calls. She says she got really sunburnt when camping. She probably only greased herself from the inside, so we advise her to buy Panthenol somewhere.
We continue and see roast pork offerings everywhere, a billboard with a piglet every now and then, a few sculptures or models of piglets, too. Our Guardian angel – Pavla informed us by a text message a day before that the surroundings of Mealhada and Sernadelo are known for its pig breeding and the specialities made out of them. That makes my taste buds want roast pork.
It’s only a short way from Mealhada to Sernadelo but it isn’t really passing quickly for us. We find the albergue with no problems though. The owner welcomes us and leads us to his office. Along the walls he has showcases with toy car models and formulas…. Just small cars.
We get an iced water and a question if we have a reservation. We say we do. Jannik arrives and immediately asks if there’s still a free room. He gets an answer that there isn’t. Us and Mary took the last rooms. I feel bad for him but I want Jitka to finally sleep well after another sleepless night. We receive the keys and arrange a pilgrim dinner together with Mary after washing our clothes and ourselves. The room looks like a typical american motel room. After showering and washing our clothes we go outside to hang the clothes on a clothesline.
Let’s go for the nosh-up
Then we ask Mary, who has been guarding us through her window, when we’ll go. Jannik with the Korean couple and Enrique and Tonya are already in the restaurant. All of them are already done eating their meals and they advise us to order a menu – piglet. No problem – I’ve been wanting to eat pork since yesterday when I learned what this location is famous for. This time we are having a beer to the meal. After all, beer goes with pork better than wine. Soup is great and so is the main course. I just feel like the meat serving is too small. Or maybe I’m just starving from wandering… Or maybe both.
After the food follows coffee with dessert and then we discuss tomorrow’s route and what’s interesting on it. I’m kind of shook when no one knows what awaits us in Agueda. When I show them photos of the umbrella street, they just stare with open mouths and all they say is WOW.
We pay and I realize that the more we go north, the more expensive the food is. This menu costed us 9,50 Euro. That’s actually double as much as it was before Coimbra on the route. Whatever, we still have to eat. But we have to sleep, too, so we don’t delay much longer and go get some nice sleep. Mary goes too and asks when we’ll go tomorrow. We agree that 7 a.m. is appropriate.