This moment is so magical, I am almost in tears. We are at the most incredible hotel with the best host ever, who told us that for today, this is our home, and I wish it was. We are at the Casas do Rio, a sprawling landscape of heaven. Green everywhere, it has beautiful trees, it is on a lake, there is a fountain, pool, jacuzzi, swans, a duck pond, chicken area, and a game house with billiards, a beautiful chess table, darts, and foosball. As I am writing we hear church choir music filling the whole valley. This is like nothing else. Our hosts José and Cristina are about to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. When we asked for marriage advice, José (pronounces zho-zay) said that there will be troubles, but we should use our troubles as ways to grow closer. Our room is awesome, it has a fire place, orange canopy and a really nice bathroom. The rug by the couch felt like a cloud under my sore feet. We talked to José after walking around a bit and he shared their story. He was teaching at the university and worked for a company and he wanted to find a place that touched a river. They found this place, which was really worn down, and have fixed it up over a nine year period. The original Camino route passed right through the property as did a Roman route to an important Portuguese city. Back to their story, the quit their lives and followed this dream. He described it as doing something without knowing why you are doing it, so beautiful! José told us he was once told that there are three parts to our brains; instinct/ fear, pleasure, and affection/ happiness, and that affection and happiness suffer when the focus is on pleasure. Cristina told Paul that we have to come back for our 25 year anniversary. I say “yes, let’s do it”.
Our walking journey today: We were hungry when we left the albergue and wanted real breakfast (no more cafés). While asking someone where we can find a ristoranté and gesturing ‘food’ , a man drove up and asked if we wanted “comida” and he drove us to a place to eat. It was cool, but only had café and pastries. I wanted eggs so bad, but oh well. We started our Camino and Paul read from our guidebook, “Ask, and ye shall receive, seek, and ye shall find”. We walked through a pretty vineyard and the things I asked for in my mind were received. There was a café at the perfect moment. After leaving the café, we saw a fellow pilgrim we had met the night before (we think his name was Andreas). We walked with him for a bit and a pilgrim lady from Holland joined us. She dropped off soon, but we walked with Andreas (who is from Austria) until we had to veer off to get to our beautiful hotel. While walking I was in pain. My collar bones and feet hurt from the weight of my pack ad I have blisters on the pads of my two smallest toes on both feet. As I am writing now, we just got back from dinner (where someone who works there drove to pick us up and drop us off). Looking forward to a bath and a good night’s sleep. As we walked past many homes, including our hotel, we saw that a lot of people put flower petals leading up to their door. I imagine this is for Easter, but want to research this further. Bath time.
There is no way I can ever put into words the magic of this day. We heard fireworks all day long, from morning until night. Paul said it was for our anniversary, but Easter may have had something to do with it. While we walked we heard people ringing bells and saw what looked like a priest with a small entourage walking through the towns. Apparently, the
flower petals leading up to the doors is an invitation for them to stop by and bless your home. So cool. I want to decorate the path to our door next Easter, I imagine the neighbors may think this is strange. At the hotel were other guests, who were dressed like they’d be staying in a nice hotel. I felt so dirty and scrubby in comparison as I only had the clothes I had been wearing on the Camino. I wanted to look nice for our anniversary dinner, but had limited options, so I started playing with the scarf I had brought and, with Paul’s help, managed to twist it into a one shouldered top which I wore with my black leggings. It was small, it helped make me feel like I was “dressed up” for a moment.
This is the coolest one year anniversary I can ever imagine.