Walking East Journal

Dec 2009 28


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We started walking again yesterday, the 27th, exactly eight years after Petra started her walk to Santiago from her home in Constance, Germany. It is easy to follow the yellow Camino de Santiago arrows (Here they are accompanied by blue Fatima arrows). But these little arrows don’t always lead you to a passable place at this time of the year. In mid-morning yesterday we ended up a couple kilometers (1.2 mi.) out on a path along a river only to have to turn back. The bicycles and 4-wheel motorcycles had made a mess of the path, digging deep mud holes that we couldn’t pass.
We ended up walking the highway the rest of the day. Our practice in the United States and Canada prepared us for that. The narrow to non-existent shoulder provided sufficient walking space most of the time.
The forecasted rain didn’t show at all two days ago in Lisbon. We had beautiful blue skies. Nor did it appear during the day yesterday. But it came down in bathtubs full last night. And a lot of lightning and thunder crashed through the night. Our room was damp and cold. The tile floor and walls actually had water on them this morning. We remembered this wetness from the last time we were in Portugal in the winter. They have little winter heating. Mildew in addition to the dampness and cold rooms were a problem then too.
The current forecast is calling for rain for the next ten days….
Last night I lay in bed awake most of the night thinking about that rain and the mud holes and spray from trucks along the road. I figured we were in for either becoming mud pies from walking on paths or covered with water from trucks. I was ready to quit, ready to go back to Lisbon and make different plans. Why go through the misery when we don’t really have to? But as we got up, we talked and Petra reminded me that most of the rain is only in the night. She reminded me of the native of Lisbon who told us that the winter rains come mainly at night because of some daytime, high-pressure atmospheric phenomenon–he made it through a winter without getting rained on. Somehow it would be a bit odd to walk all the way across the North American continent through all kinds of weather and then give up here after one day in Portugal. Besides, even when a big rain comes, a lot of bars line our path. We can easily stop for coffee and let the rain subside. Onward.
In the end we walked through a cloudy day. A short, light drizzle with a lot of warm wind made for a nice day of walking. And tonight we have a heated hotel room that will be able to drive off some of the dampness. We had a new birth of the pilgrimage for me this morning. It is a bit like late last June when we almost quit at the height of the Missouri heat in Herman when we actually checked train schedules and costs to Woodstock. As there, we realized this weather is as much part of the pilgrimage as the beautiful days.
So it takes us a few extra days to get to Santiago as we have to sit out some rain days here and there along the way. We will neither melt nor freeze. Be patient, listen, feel, and learn. That’s what this pilgrimage is all about anyway.
We lightened our load this morning. We stopped at the post office and sent 8.7 kilos (19 lbs) of miscellaneous extra stuff to Petra’s mother in Germany. We had summer things and other extras that we don’t need as we walk to Santiago. We can pick them up when we visit her for her 80th birthday in February. Before leaving the US, we sent the doll cart back to my brother Marty. We now have both backpacks and a bit more in the bigger cart. The things we sent actually lightened our load by one backpack’s normal contents. We still have more than we need….

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