" How hot is it? Dang hot"!
In the interest of class and culture I will not finish this Robin Williams quote from the movie Good Morning Vietnam but you can fill in the blanks, add a couple of degrees Celsius and you might be close to how hot it was today.
There have been so many times on past caminos that we have been drenched through, frozen to within a shiver from hypothermia but today was the opposite extreme. Thirty four and a half kilometres, thirty four and a half degrees Celsius, thirty SPF sunscreen (and it wasn't enough) and Dayton's thirty pound pack completes the picture. I carried my umbrella for shade all day and it was perfect although the backs of my calves are a mess of sunburn and hikers' heat rash. The good news is we get to do it again and again for the next few several stages; same distance, same heat, same packs.
While it is hot, dang hot, we have no complaints about most of the Camino Portuguese. The people are so friendly, the food is great (so says the omnivore, Dayton) and the prices are ridiculously low. Today for a break we had two drinks and a huge pastry for €2.70. When we got into Golegã, we stopped at a park and had an ice cream bar, a lemonade and a beer and again it was €2.70. Last night we had a wonderful dinner with a few other pilgrims, our new friends from Malta and a gentleman from Spain. Dayton had a cauldron of sopa full of potatoes, a couple kinds of fish and at least three kinds of meat and maybe a vegetable. And when I say a cauldron of sopa don't hesitate to think HUGE! This plus a jug of wine, salad, bread and a cup of tea for me was under €11.00. Imagine, at home, a full meal and wine for two for $11.00. It almost makes up for the confusing trail markings.
Yes, the Camino arrows and John Brierley's book failed us a lot today. There were missing arrows, incorrect arrows and contradictory arrows, one arrow pointing this way beside another pointed in the opposite direction. Someone somewhere said 'attitude is the difference between ordeal and adventure' and I spent a lot of this scorching hot, confusing and frustrating day trying to keep a jolly attitude.
The people, the accommodations, the food and the prices are all impressive here. Our pensionne tonight is a very elegant old house with 14-16 feet high ceilings. We have a sitting room, a huge bedroom with armoire and dressers, a bathroom and bidet and the lovely hostess did our laundry for us. Then we went out and met up with John and Eman for a delicious dinner. I even got green vegetables for dinner! Dayton had Stone Soup as an appetizer with Hake as an entree. Again the price was so reasonable.
As impressive as all of this is, I cannot say the same for the route itself. The Camino Portuguese, so far, is barely picture worthy. Lovely flat terrain over country roads or frightening walks along busy high traffic roads; nice but not spectacular. I mention this only for those contemplating a pilgrim route.