All of us pilgrims waiting for the albergue to open at 5 pm
Here is what the dormitory of the albergue looks like. The ceiling was too low for bunk beds. It was so hot this night, that Marge moved her mattress to the outside deck and slept there.
Woke up at 7, then off walking by 7:50 am. Today's walk finally was mostly on wooded paths. The Portuguese countryside is very beautiful. We saw a lot of citrus and some banana trees, so the temperatues can't get too cold in the winter. The dirt on the paths was moist, so there was recent rain. The farm fields are mostly corn and right now they are cutting it for silage for livestock feed. There are also a lot of grapes, generally not whole vineyards, but grown on trellises on the edges of the fields. Also some apple and chestnut orchards. There is little irrigation. It looks like the summer rain is sufficient to grow crops here. The weather today is warm, probably about 90 degrees. With the moisture from the rain a few days ago, it is also bit humid, but nothing like the American Midwest or East coast.
We walked about 16 miles today and it was easier than yesterday with mostly downhill to the Rio Lima. About nine miles into the walk, we came onto a cafe/bar and small market which provided a welcome rest stop and food for a later lunch stop. I was going to be good and not get sardines, but I found some preserved in tomato sauce and couldn't resist. Marge did much better today. Of course we are both body tired, who wouldn't be after 50+ miles in three days. The first week is always the toughest to get yourself used to those distances day after day. So far, no blisters for either. My toenail is starting to turn purple on my big toe. It was the same nail that I lost last year, looks like it will happen again.
This weekend just happens to be the huge fall festival in Ponte de Lima. The albergue is through Ponte de Lima, then over the medieval bridge (ponte) on the far side of the Rio Lima. We had to make our way through at least 2 km of vendors and thousands and thousands of people. We made it across the bridge before 3 pm, but the albergue does not open till 5. Ugh!! So the group of pilgrims that we have come to know is now camped across the street on the shady side and waiting. In the meantime, the crowds keep walking past us and over the bridge to the Festival on the other side. It is really hilarious to see them look over our group, staring with disgust, then putting their noses in the air. Little kids pointing and looking up questioningly to their parents. I guess we must look like a motley, tired, and very odd group, like a pack of Gypsies or something. Anyway, while Marge guards the packs, I am off to see if I can find some free wi-fi to post this blog.
Just to add on to the blog the rest of the day:
We did get in to the albergue about 5 pm, then the usual shower and clothes washing. Marge and I walked away from the town center to the supermercado that our hospitaleiro directed us to. We bought food for tomorrow, then decided to take our chances on the festival. We waded through the sea of humanity, back across the bridge, and into the center of the old town. Our dinner was cachuras (hot dogs laden with carrots, corn, lettuce, small fries, etc.). These were bought from a street vendor and were delicious. Marge bought some cookies from another vendor for dessert. The festival, like the festivals in Spain, was all encompassing. Everyone was there from babies, children, teenagers, old folks, and all seemed to be having a good time. We went into the cathedral off the main square and saw all the statues and flags that will be carried later in the procession. I have lots and lots of photos, hope some will turn out well. Our hospitalero warned us that the music (boom-boom, boom-boom) will go on all night and that at 1 am, the fireworks will start and sound like a war zone. Oh, us hard working peregrinos that will need to wake up at 7 am to hit the trail!!