Camino Day 1: Christo?
First, huge shoutout to Portugal Green Walks. I normally reject anything considered touristy, so which I’d consider hiking with a tour company to be… but for the price and only booking 6 weeks ago, this has been ‘perfecto mundo’ (oops, not sure what the same sentiment is in Portuguese)!
We met with a company rep the night before our walk at the hotel they booked for us where they gave us our credential de peregrine (pilgrim passport), shells signifying our pilgrim-ship, and a personalized book with each day of our walk laid out, complete with pictures of each hotel, every and any phone number we could need or want, and a map with every cafe along the way labeled! Plus a tshirt, which has become my new town shirt since it’s the cleanest thing in my bag (saving the clean hiking clothes for the walking days).
It’s also come to my attention that we’re actually walking the last 120 km, which is 75 miles!
Okay! On to the walking!
We woke up in Valença and are sure to get our first stamp at the hotel before leaving town. We went through an old fortress town before getting to the bridge separating Portugal from Spain. Crossing the bridge into Tui, you lose an hour as Spain is an hour ahead of Portugal.
While in Tui we stopped at the cathedral for our second stamp of the day. If I haven’t noted before, it’s required to have at least two stamps per day (with dates) in order to earn your compostella in Santiago.
We walked about 3mi/5km before stopping in a cafe for coffee and tea, as well as shaking the rust off of our Spanish. Here we got to talk with a nice Finnish man who started in Lisbon on the last day of August (24 days ago). This is his fourth Camino having walked the French route three times!
After another ~3mi/5km, we stopped in a cafe for ham sandwiches and Coca Cola. After another quick passport stamp, we were on our way to the first alternate!
For our route, we’ll encounter three alternate routes (or complementarios), and our tour company has suggested we take all three for scenery reasons- for example, today, the original route now goes through an industrial park, whereas the alternate goes through the forest.
To wrap up a long walking portion, we walked along exposed sidewalks into the town of O Porriño, where we meandered through town looking for the albergue (pilgrim bunkhouse) our hotel transfer was picking us up at. There appeared to be a large festival happening in town, but with everything in Spanish, we hadn’t a clue what it was.
End Act One: Walking
Begin Act Two: The Hotel
We were picked up from a kid who appeared to be about 20, who did some charades to signify were the ones he called for to be picked up.
During the ride we asked if he knew what the festival was about, to which this man asked “Do you know Jesus”
Quick aside here for anyone not from the US… there are people in most cities and college campuses who hand out bibles and asked the same thing. The meaning is more, ‘do you have a relationship with Jesus’ not ‘have you ever heard of Jesus’
So while sitting in the back of this van, Mary and I were confused about the meaning (aside the fact I thought he said Yeezus, as if the artist formerly known as Kanye would be in Porriño😂). He proceeds to say the translation is “…Christo”.
The festival is to celebrate Jesus’ death this week and rebirth next week, in a two week long festival. Well lucky for us, we heard the next day from other walkers staying in town that the festival kept everyone awake until around 4am.
I won’t continue to write a novel here on the hotel, or our continued cultural experiences at dinner navigating our remedial Spanish.
However, I will note that at dinner we have ice cream cake and the owner came by and gave us a splash of whiskey😂 it was some great fun.
The big hoopla of the night came when we made sure to confirm our transfer the next day from Arcade, the next town we were finishing in. Portugal Green Walks had arranged, since all the accommodations in Arcade were full, to have the hotel pick us up and bring us back so we could stay two nights in Porriño. The hotel was unaware of this situation and insisted they’d only pick us up if it was in the town between Porriño and Arcade – Redondella.
A lot was getting lost in translation, so I WhatsApp messaged Portugal Green Walks and they immediately were on the phone with the hotel owner. The important thing to note here is that this is a family hotel, with the husband, wife, and son (who picked us up) as the only three employees, with the son knowing the most English and the wife/mother knowing none, so losing one employee around dinner time to pick up guests 45 min away is a big deal.
Things seemed to be settled after this so we headed to bed, thankful that we didn’t need to rush to pack up for the next day.
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