• Theresa Fersch

15 Miles to Just Past Marinhas (3rd world)

Updated: Nov 8, 2019

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The four of us awoke all around the same time and left the albergue before 7am. I was the last one up but the first one ready. My Camino morning routine came back to me like I’d just completed the first hike a week ago. I was happy to have my first albergue experience for this trip behind me because I know now that I can do this again. I slept pretty well last night but will wear earplugs from now on.

Walking along the shore, we passed many high rises that looked like summer rentals. At the base of one of those buildings was a coffee shop. In the dark morning, it looked like a beacon of hope from down the Camino. we stopped knowing it would be the only open restaurant we pass all morning. I got a Croissant with some slices of cheese, a double Cappuccino, and freshly squeezed orange juice. 

Kathy introduced us to some other pilgrims she met from Venezuela and then left while we were still eating. She was eager to get going and did not want breakfast. She was very nice and we all enjoyed her company but she is very new to long distance hiking and last night before we went to bed she mentioned people who snore and stink. This made me giggle a bit because those are just the reality of long-distance hiking. People do not do those things because they are inconsiderate, they do them because they have very little control over them. I hope the rest of her Camino goes smoothly! As for smells, I’m very familiar with the absolutely horrid smell of hiking men though. I don’t get it. When a woman is done hiking for the day, the room smells really bad. But when A man is done hiking, it doesn’t matter how squeaky clean and well maintained he began, his room smells like something died. All day I kept asking the guys if they could please stop stinking.

We passed massive bales of seaweed and Brian was explaining that they use it to fertilize their gardens around here. We passed them quickly though because the morning is when you want to get your miles in. It’s cool, you are as rested as you’re going to get for the day, and you are not hurting quite as much as you will be later in the day. Yesterday, although we went farther than planned, we definitely got slower and slower as the day went on and needed more breaks.

We did have to get off trail only about an hour and a half into our walk because I forgot to use the restroom this morning when we stopped for breakfast. I had to go so bad, Brian asked “do you need to find a bathroom?” And I said “no. I’m too desperate to be that picky. Just find me somewhere I can pee and not get arrested.” We got off trail at the next town and the guys got more espresso while I used the facilities. Speaking of caffeine, when I’m at home I barely have any, but when I hike, I drink my weight in caffeine every day and still don’t notice it because you burn it off so quickly.

It was a beautiful hike today. We were finally pushed off the boardwalk and into small towns. We passed farmers, construction workers, vineyards, a commune, a massive cemetery, really old houses, and very modern houses. The weather was perfect too. I struggled a lot but that was to be expected for day three. My feet hurt terribly and I’m walking much slower than yesterday and have to take more frequent breaks. Speaking of breaks there are almost no places to stop on this route! We saw a sign for a rest stop in one Kilometer but when we got there, it was literally a large box made out of plywood with some vending machines inside and a couple of seats. I needed the rest though so I stopped for a solid ten minutes. Vegemite was feeling really good today so he went ahead of us and we agreed to meet for lunch in Esposende.

Brian walked with me and despite his blisters, for the most part he was in a pretty good mood. My mood fluctuated by the minute based on how much pain I was in. We argued a few times but would then walk it off knowing we were just stressed from our sore feet. 

The town we stopped in for lunch seemed to have a couple of areas that could be a town square but Vegemite pushed forward until he found a very nice area with outdoor seating and a great restaurant. We sat in the shade, kicked off our shoes, ate our lunch and the guys looked for an Airbnb. We’ve decided we will divide our nights between albergues and Airbnbs. Also, there are such limited options sometimes we may not have much choice. 

I’ve decided for all my hard work walking, I’m going to enjoy all the foods I normally deny myself at home. So I ordered a hot ham and cheese sandwich, a side of fries, a KitKat, and pineapple juice. I also found a Camino stamp in the church next door so while the guys were relaxing, I brought all our Camino passports in and got them stamped. I was limping so badly. My muscles are so tight it’s hard to stand up straight. It’s going to take me some time to figure out how to time my breaks appropriately so I can continue to put in the miles. It’s also occurred to me today that I usually only hike 6-8 miles the first few days of a hike. This time, we’re doing 15. Granted, this hike has no hills and is a lot easier but 15 is a lot for me.  

I noticed today a few differences between the Portuguese Camino and the French Camino. On this trail, they often indicate where the camino is NOT with a large spray painted yellow X. So it’s been fairly easy to find the trail. Also, I noticed while there are stray cats along this route there aren’t nearly as many as you see in the small towns across Spain. I haven’t seen any wild dogs at all and the domesticated dogs are altered. They just seem to have more control of the pet population here. Another thing I noticed is there seems to be different ways of farming. On one hand, farmers tote in huge quantities of seaweed as fertilizer. But right down the road, you’ll see greenhouses lining the street. And finally, people don’t wish pilgrims a “Buen camino” like they do in Spain. They just say “bon dia” or good day which is what they say to everyone regardless if you’re hiking.

As for this town in particular, people were quite stylish. The men walked around in suits and the women wore trendy dresses. It seemed out of place for what we thought was a small quiet town but as we walked through the rest of this town, we came to understand this is a very very well-to-do area. High end stores, palm trees lining a beautiful walkway along the beach, massive houses, expensive cars, spoiled teenagers. This part of town looks absolutely nothing like the part we entered from. I absolutely love walking through these areas and watching things change as we go.

In the last several kilometers, there was literally no where to stop. Houses up against the streets, and cars flying by at 50 miles an hour. There was literally no where to sit. I saw a sign for an albergue and it had pictures of the rooms which made me laugh so hard because there are literally no other options! No one would look at those pictures and say “oh no thank you. I’ll just walk another 18 miles to the next albergue!“

The last mile was entirely too much for me. It took me nearly an hour. We also entered an area that looked like a third world country. Mud roads, crumbling stone walls, construction vehicles with no real construction going on. I couldn’t wait to see our place. It wasn’t terrible. It was very clean but nothing more than a stone room with some wooden stairs leading up to the two twin beds in a plywood loft. The place is only for 2 guests but it was the only option we could find. Vegemite offered to sleep on the hard floor on the main floor. 

The second I sat on the couch, my muscles seized up, my feet swelled up, and I decided I’m not moving until tomorrow...it’s only 3:30pm.

Ok so after sleeping for about two hours, I got my achy body into the bathroom for a shower and I instantly changed my mind about this place. The bathroom, while very small, was very clean and had an amazing shower and an endless supply of piping hot water. My limbs started feeling better right away. That said, all three of us are walking around like zombies and this hut is so small there’s not much room for all three of us. Vegemite is currently watching movies on his phone while lying on the floor in the kitchen area. We joked that this town might have Uber Eats but without roads, the service might not be much use to us. I think we saw a small restaurant down the road as we walked in. We might go to that later.





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