Po.03. Azambuja – Santarém

Saturday, 11th day of September. For a lot of people it is not the same anymore, Nine Eleven….. Do you remember where you were on that day and what you were doing? I do.

Now 20 years later it’s still a day the world turns slower. But for the impact of what happened or something else?

Last night I was the only pilgrim in the albergue, tonight in the hostel not. I share the big room with a elderly man from Dublin. I saw him twice today on route.

The night was again one to forget. I sleep until 2 half past 2 and from that time it’s waking up, sleeping, waking up, sleeping. And each time looking at the watch. It is the same as my other Camino’s, in 2018. This happens because of my apnea, at home I use a CPAP machine to sleep, but if I would bring that along, it would mean bringing 2 kilos extra.

So I got up at 06.30 and had all the time in the world. I had my breakfast, packed my backpack checked everything and just before 8 I was outside. The first thing I noticed was the darker clouds…. But then, the forecast was ok. Just 50 meters and I was on track again. I had to cross the road and the railways by walking over a bridge, so I had to walk up stairs, not do fine with a  backpack, but I covered it.

On the other side it was again following the blue and yellow arrows. Just after 2 kilometers I was walking between fields of tomatoes or harvested fields.  This would be 80% of my day. And what I didn’t expected happened, it started raining, not too hard, but hard enough to take out my big orange raincoat. I had to wear it for 3 km, while trucks fully loaded with fresh harvested tomatoes keep passing me by. On a lot of fields they wear harvesting the tomatoes. Here they grow on the ground, almost like strawberries. And slowly the sun started to come out behind of the clouds. It was getting warmer and warmer.

Í need to have a lunch before the last stretch of 15 km, because there is no possibility along that path. Just fields and dust. Shall I lunch at the last cafe or before? Just to be sure I had lunch at the one before the last one, because you never know if it’s open….. And yes, I made the right decision, the last one was closed. So always keep your eyes open and don’t trust the books. I had to walk back 500 meters if I wanted to try the last cafe….

The stretch I walked after my lunch was long, and longer and very long. Luckily a lot of bikers past by, so it was not a lonely walk. The first of the road have my shoes a different colour. The last 6 km I could see Santarém and the hill I need to climb. Not only me, all the pilgrims. Under a bridge of a highway I see the elderly man whom I saw just before my lunch break earlier to day. And on the side of the road 2 women taking a rest in the shades. So today I already saw 3 pilgrims. Bom Caminho….. It’s still 2 k before the road is going up. This last, correction, first and final climb of the day is massive…. It’s just going up to 140 m but at some places it’s steep. But we have to make it to the top.

At the time I reach the center I check for a place to sleep. The biggest albergue is not open, do I check the first and cheapest private hostel, they have a bed for me. But before I can go inside they ask if I’m vaccinated….

At the check in they check my paper version, register me as a pilgrim and a tour through the house starts. It had 1 room with 4 bunk beds, so 8 people could sleep here. But they also have private rooms, which are more expensive. After choosing my bed and installing myself I take a shower, remove the sweat and dust off today.

Next a video call to home and after that a rest. Don’t forget to shop for 3 liters of water, done soda and 2 bananas for tomorrow. The sodas are for today. Back in the room my roommate from Dublin, Ireland is also having a resting period. We chit chat a bit ….  And later I go for dinner. My first bacalhau…. And maybe my last…. It’s though to eat and the bones…. I like fish but not the bone. Someone at home knows all about it. After dinner back to the hostel, preparing for tomorrow and making blog and vlog…. The internet here is almost perfect, do I can post it all……

Food for thoughts for the Dutch:

Je kunt plannen wat je wilt, er is 1 iets dat je niet kunt overdoen: het leven dat achter je ligt.

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