Notes from the Camino Portugués por La Costa

Hola amigos, I’m catching up on my Camino notes to September 30, 2018. More stories to come.

Almost our last day in Portugal and the best yet. We walked again on the sandy beach and walkways, by water almost all the way. Swimming and wading into the cold sea. Brrr. Earlier in the morning, the water was warmer, so I had to rethink the swim when I walked into the sea later. I’m not as brave as some of my walking companions.

Notice the signs along the way: beaches and the natural environment, flora, fauna, land use, protected. Areas for human use developed with walkways, trash control, restrooms, to minimize impact. Imagine walking the Portuguese coast on the connected trails. Divine. I imagine this quality of life in my country. I know how to make it happen, but I’d have to change our tax structure.

This will be my friend’s last day hiking on the Coastal, as she’s walking over to the Central route. I admire her great sense of adventure, easy going manner and spot-on navigation skills.

Each of us is walking solo and that time is precious.

But given the unique terrain, I may not have walked the few days on the beach route completely alone. So I’m doubly grateful.

What I love about the Camino is the opportunity to walk with other peregrinos, and /or solo if we want.

Arrive solo and walk with companions when it works. It’s about balance. Our hiking buddy, Thomas, read a quote from the Brierly guide to me: “Life is like riding a bicycle- to keep your balance you have to keep moving.”

And so we do. (Picture 2016 Camino Francés, over the Pyrenees). Even if we have to walk our bicycles over a mountain.

This costal route isn’t like the Camino Francés or even the Central Portugues with frequent Albergues, bars and cafes right on the Camino, and many peregrinos on the Way.

More flexibility, planning and changing course are all part of this Way. I didn’t need a guidebook for the Camino Francés, or the Camino Portuguese Central, but I think guidebooks and navigation apps are essential (for me) on the Coastal and Seaside/Litoral. I read “just keep the sea to your left,” but sometimes the sea is far to the left with land or villages in between.

I tell myself, “next time I’ll bring a book I can hold in my hand.” My nav assistance is all on my phone and uses up my battery quickly. And I promise to bring a camera. Ah, but all that weighs too much! Choices! What to do? Here are a few more notes on”planning” even a last minute Coastal Camino.

Accommodations: try to find out the distance from your Camino route before you commit. We had a few that were far from the Coastal Seaside but might have been okay for the Coastal. Added Kms to our Camino after a long day and we then had to return to our route by the shore to continue.

Before you walk a route check the distance on a map, even if a pilgrim or local person gives you a number. My story will wait to next post, but my longest solo walk with pack was 36+ kms when I thought it was going to be half, after talking to the desk manager at our Albergue in Caminha. My friend said, “You’re walking to Valença?” with a dubious tone that I now recognize. Description and whining in the next post.

Poles: my Black Diamond Z Poles that weigh only one pound (.454 kg) and fold to fit in your pack, also have small, custom size tips that I haven’t seen available to purchase on the Camino. With all the hard surface on Portugues Central Walk in June, my tips wore down and I replaced them with the extras I carry. On the coastal boardwalks, my tips frequently stuck in the grooves, not safe, so I carried the poles most of the time for those walks. Next time I will buy poles that have standard size tips when I arrive to my Camino destination. And I’ll leave them in Spain so I don’t have to check them at the Aeropuerto. (Please remind me!)

Again we walked by birds, little sanctuaries of egrets and gulls. I watched a heron fly by. Spectacular rocky areas that open to sandy beaches. Everything you might love about the coast is right here on the Portugués Camino Litoral Route.

After many hours on the beach we walked on a boardwalk and coastal path and found an upscale restaurant for our lunch. Patio with view of the sea.

More beach, then we walked through a forested area that took us to the Rio Minho and a walking path to Caminha and our rooms for the night.

The end of the evening I walked to the river and was captivated by the color along the water. 20:00, the day singing down and so much to consider: the sunset, I was channeling my Mom who believed every sunset a gift. And thinking about Rachel Carson, (1907-1964) American marine biologist who wrote “The Sea Around Us” as well as other books, including “Silent Spring” alerting, informing, warning that our spectacular natural world was in danger, including and because of, humans.

The most present thoughts and the future process of Unpacking the Camino all swirl in my mind, along with gratitude for Camino friendships, however brief. And where to next.

I finished my Camino Portuguese walk today. (Portuguese spelled a little differently but correctly throughout the blog!). I already have the Compostela for this route, completing the central section this past June. Beyond the Compostela is the reality of beginning, ending and all the lessons we carry with us.

Another lesson: take advantage of the time we have Now. Life might not travel from point A to point B. We don’t have to either. Last minute plans, spontaneity, often work, maybe not as smoothly as we’d like, but taking advantage of our time is a bonus.

The younger pilgrims I see on the way are creating a spiritual, mental and physical journey that will stay with them forever.

So it is with the many mature pilgrims, walking their first Caminos or adding to their life’s journeys. Gratitude for today is the force behind our steps, whenever and wherever we walk.

(All this philosophy is free of charge. Be sure to share yours.)

Next post: a challenging walk to Valença along the Rio Minho that separates Portugal and Spain. And more.

I’m now in España. Gracias for joining me, amigos. Buen Camino to all of us. Irene

7 thoughts on “Notes from the Camino Portugués por La Costa

    1. So happy to share this Camino, Margaret. Wonderful that you walked it. We didn’t see many on this amazing coastal route. Maybe we were on the journey at the same time? Where to next? Bom Caminho. Irene

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  1. I too crossed to the Central at about midday from Camhina with Valena on my radar after deciding the 2:30pm ferry to Spain was too late. It was hot and dry and very, very sunny and I fell in a heap at Vila Nova de Cerveira at night fall. It was a 31k day…maybe I took a few wrong turns? I didn’t make it to the fabled “not so far away” Valenca LOL

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    1. Hi Linda. Thinking back on that day, I wonder how we made it. The kms added up and I thought I would never arrive. I like your description of “falling in a heap” in Vila Nova de Cerveira at night fall. It describes my arrival, too. Now we’re ready for one more challenge! I hope the rest of your Camino was a great adventure. Bom Caminho, Irene

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