Monday, April 21, 2014 Ponte de Lima
I am in the albergue in Ponte de Lima. This is the most incredible location, a room with this view would be considered a luxury. There are 40 beds in this room with about 33 occupants. The woman we met yesterday from Holland is here, she is very nice. We met a lot of people in our albergue and it was wonderful having dinner on the patio in the city and saying hello to our “friends” as they walked by. This morning I woke in our beautiful hotel room after having the best night’s sleep I have had since last Monday. We leisurely got ready and had an amazing breakfast buffet served by our hosts. We asked José where the pharmacy was so that we could get ibuprofen and after breakfast he drove us to the farmácia and dropped us off at the Camino. I have learned so much from José and Christina and I pray that I don’t forget their lessons.
Sadly, one of the lessons learned from them is the beauty of living like you, or your loved one is dying. José has a problem with his lungs, which has moved to his brain, it sounds like cancer, and he expects to live only a few more months. He is expecting his first grandchild in one week. José sees the beauty in life , his wife, his family, and his home. It makes me wonder how I would live and be if Paul or I were dying, which we all are in a sense. Their anniversary is April 23rd, just three days after us (but 24 more years).
The firework continued all day again and I can hear barking dogs. We walked a little over 10 miles. I am so glad that we split the 20 miles in half, for a million reasons. My left knee is quite sore as is Paul’s left ankle, this albergue has no pillows or blankets, so we will make do without. I miss the intimacy that is absent when you are n your own bed and/ or sleeping bag. Again, our bed last night was a gift. Forests and more vineyards made up most of the day’s walking. We heard the song “Sunny” playing from someone’s garage and saw a frenchie today, I miss my baby girl. The church bells just chimed 10pm and someone turned off the lights. Bed time. Good thing my kindle lights up. My wish/ prayer for this trip is to strengthen the bond between Paul and I, to come home a better version of myself, and that God’s will will be done regarding children for us. Is it possible we conceived last night?, we’ll see…
Looking at my journal and laughing as after the lights had gone out, I was no longer writing in the lines. I can’t believe I didn’t write more about that breakfast we had. It was the best breakfast buffet I have ever had, or seen. José and Christina had asked us the day before if we could wait until 9 am for breakfast, they were worried that we’d want to get back on the Camino early and it takes them 8 hours to prepare the breakfast. But they said that if it was too late, they’d get up even earlier. I am telling you I have never experienced hospitality and kindness to strangers like we did in Portugal. It was unbelievable. A trait that I very much wanted to take home with us. We had a tearful goodbye with José and Christina. We told each other that we would always hold each other in our hearts and I have every intention to. One of the more magical moments of the Camino was when José dropped us off and he asked me to give word to St. James for him. I felt honored to be the bearer of this powerful request.
Ponte de Lima was my favorite city. It is a place that I would love to live. It has a main city street right on the river with an ancient bridge. Cafés and restaurants lined the street and people walked everywhere. I long to live in a city where people walk everywhere. We also saw people walking their dogs which was nice, because up to this point and throughout most of Portugal, we only saw barking dogs used as watch dogs and they were chained up and did not seem happy. This city was beautiful and the buildings and their windows were trimmed with lights which made the night seem grand.
A fun little side story from this night was that there was a German woman (who we later referred to as the crazy German lady) who was doing the Camino with her 14 year old grandson. When we met them in the albergue, she was in panic mode as her grandson lost his passport. She believed it was left in the previous town the day before. I can’t imagine loosing my passport while traveling abroad. While we were eating dinner later that evening, the German woman and her grandson walked by and said hi. She told us, that someone from the previous town had found his passport and driven it to Ponte de Lima, assuming that this was their next stop and they had somehow found them and returned the passport!! This is the kindness that we saw everywhere.