MEALHADA – AGUEDA
6 APRIL 2018
Weather-wise it does not look promising! Big grey clouds filled the sky as we’ve started walking this morning – we’ve heard from the owners at the restaurant last night that they were expecting 100% rain today … well, that definitely means we will get wet on our way to Agueda (just how wet, we would find out at the end of the day!)
For the last couple of days, we’ve noticed these bread bags hanging at the gates of houses in the smaller towns. I also remember seeing this last year on our Camino Frances in the smaller Spanish villages. I have a suspicion that the house owner ordered these from the bakery and that this is the way they deliver it early morning … I’m just so surprised that it is left untouched until the owner removes it!
Fresh bread at the front gate of a house in Mealhada
We could feel the rain was coming closer – it became colder and darker since we’ve started to walk. We were lucky that we’ve dodged the rain when we’ve walked through the woodlands – I could just imagine the mud slides we would have found ourselves in …
Walking in a woodland as we’ve left Mealhada
That must be rain clouds …
As we’ve approached Alpalhao, we’ve walked passed a modern sports ground. We could not see anybody on the sports ground, but heard loud music as we’ve got closer. Athletes were probably busy training inside to stay out of the coming rain. The song we’ve heard, was just so familiar and reminded us of back home. It was the theme song for the Soccer World Cup 2010 that was held in South Africa, our birth country. We could hear Shakira singing “Waka Waka (This time for Africa)” for almost 2km! That was a quite inspiring moment!
The modern sports ground where we’ve heard Shakira singing “Waka Waka (This time for Africa)” … the right song at the right time!
And then, as we’ve got to the Rotunda Anadia the rain came down in buckets! Fortunately, a bus stop was close by … and even better, it was equipped with a vending machine! We’ve bought take away coffee and a warm pie as we’ve waited for the heavy rain to subside. I would say this bus stop was just at the right place!
Only 3km into our walk, the rain came down!
From here onwards, it became very difficult to take any more photo’s … I’ve tried, but it was beyond the bounds of possibility!
We’ve chosen the option of walking through Alpalhao. Although it was 1km off route, we were looking for a café where we could have a hot coffee and dry out a bit.
Almost at the end of the town, we’ve walked into a café – only to find the Finns on their way out. They’ve also spent some time there to stay out of the rain. As we’ve had our coffee, the lady at the counter (who could speak English) invited us to stay there while it was pouring outside. She asked us about our Camino and where we came from – it was an unexpected visit, but turned out to be a good one.
The friendly Portuguese lady at the café where we could find shelter against the rain
We’ve covered the last 16km in pouring rain. Berto said at one stage he didn’t think there was even a hint of a dry spot on him! And then you should take into consideration that I was walking with my hiking sandals … I did not even try to walk around the water puddles because my feet were anyway soaking wet!
We’ve got our rain jackets on, but were not so sure whether these were actually water resistant, as we were drenched!
We’ve walked through a couple of small towns, but decided not to look for shelter again at a café … it seemed as if the rain would not stop any time soon.
It was just me and Berto on the road – who in their right minds would any way be out in this weather?
And then, the last 7km, the rain came down in buckets!! We did not even bother to put our rain jackets’ hoods on … we were just hoping our clothes inside our backpacks were still dry (we have made sure to pack our clothes in dry bags this morning before we’ve left).
Water were flowing like a small river in the gutters next to the road … fortunately, we could still see the yellow arrow!
Just before Agueda, there’s a tunnel under the by-pass where we’ve just stood for a while to catch our breath. I don’t think I’ve ever walked in such torrential rain!
Just a silhouette in the tunnel – a wet silhouette!
Accommodation – Agueda:
The Finnish couple joined us and together we’ve walked the last kilometer (up hill and in heavy rain) to Albergue St Antonio at the end of the town.
It was with the utmost relief that we’ve walked into the albergue and got to our room. Though we’ve had two bunk beds in our room, it was just the two of us and we could make use of all the space available to get rid of our wet clothes! Fortunately, our clothes inside the dry bags were still dry (that was probably the only stuff that was not soaking wet!)
Our room in Albergue St Antonio – it was dry and warm inside
The view from the terrace of Albergue St Antonio – during Summer it must be great to relax on the grass with this view … but we’ve stayed inside the communal area where it was dry!
We’ve slogged about half a kilometer back to the supermercado where we’ve bought red wine and snacks for the afternoon and tomorrow. Tonight, we are not preparing dinner – we’ve placed an order at the albergue for a take away meal and spent the rest of the afternoon inside the communal area. We’ve once again tumble dried our clothes that clearly has instructions not to be tumble dried … oops!
Where do you want to go? What about Santiago de Compostela?
The Italian pilgrim joined us later – he also got caught up in the heavy rain and found a taxi to drive him to the albergue. As we were all sitting in the communal are, we were talking about our day and agreed that it must have been one of the most difficult days on the Camino weather-wise!
Later that evening the rain stopped for a moment and we could spend some time outside on the terrace. A beautiful cat joined us (apparently, the albergue is not his home, but he always “visits” when pilgrims are around). There was a note on our dorm’s door stated that the door must always be closed in order for the cat to stay outside … but when we later that evening went to bed, the same cat was lying stretched out on one of the upper bunk beds … we did not had the heart to chase him out into the cold ☺️
A beautiful cat entertained us with his personality at the albergue
I am a bit worried about my feet. The blisters did not look good after my feet was wet all day and my swollen ankle is painful tonight … we will see how the next couple of days unfold …