CAMINO PORTUGUESE – DAY 11

Mealhada – Agueda

6 April 2018

25.4km

Let’s walk in the rain – why not?

Weather-wise it does not look promising! Big grey clouds filled the sky as we started walking this morning – the owners at the restaurant where we had the great pig-meal last night, told us 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 noticed these bread bags hanging at the gates of houses in the smaller towns. I remember seeing the same thing 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 come to fetch it!

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Fresh bread at the front gate of a house in Mealhada

We could feel the rain was coming closer – it suddenly became colder and darker since we started our walk an hour ago. We were lucky to have dodged the rain when we walked through the woodlands – I can just imagine the mud slides we would have found ourselves in …

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Walking in a woodland just as we were leaving Mealhada

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That must be rain clouds in the (not too far) distance …

A surprising song – Waka Waka:

On approaching Alpalhao, we walked passed a modern sports ground. We could not see anybody on the sports ground, but heard loud music as we got closer. Athletes were probably busy training inside to stay out of the coming rain. The song we 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 home country. We could hear Shakira singing “Waka Waka (This time for Africa)” for almost 2km! That was quite an inspiring moment!

The modern sports ground where we heard Shakira singing “Waka Waka (This time for Africa)” … the right song at the right time!

And inevitably, when we reached 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 bought a take away coffee and warm pies as we waited for the heavy rain to subside. I would say this bus stop was just at the right place!

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Only 3km into our walk, the rain came down!

From here onwards, it became very difficult to take any more photo’s … we tried, but it was almost impossible!

We then chosen the option of walking through Alpalhao. Although it was 1km off the route, we were looking for a café where we could have a hot coffee and dry out a bit.

A dry place and friendly service:

Almost at the end of the town, we walked into a café – only to find the Finns on their way out. They were also spending some time there to stay out of the rain. While we enjoyed 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.

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The friendly Portuguese lady at the café where we could find shelter against the rain

Have you ever seen (so much) rain … you know the song:

The last 16km was done 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 miss the water puddles because my feet were anyway soaking wet!

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Even with our rain jackets, we got soaking wet!

We 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?

A proper rain storm:

And then, during 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 left).

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Water flowing like a small river in the gutters next to the road … fortunately, we could still see the yellow arrow!

Are we there yet?

Just before Agueda, there’s a tunnel under the by-pass where we just stood for a while to catch our breaths. I don’t think I ever walked in such torrential rain!

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A wet silhouette in a tunnel!

Accommodation – Agueda:

Albergue St Antonio

The Finnish couple joined us in the tunnel and together we have walked the last kilometer (uphill and in heavy rain) to Albergue St Antonio towards the end of the town.

It was with the utmost relief that we walked into the albergue and got to our room. Though we 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 (probably the only stuff that was not soaking wet!)

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Our room in Albergue St Antonio – it was dry and warm inside

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The view from the terrace of Albergue St Antonio – during summer it must be great to relax on the grass with this view … but today we stayed inside the communal area where it was dry!

We slogged about half a kilometer back to the supermercado where we bought red wine and snacks for the afternoon and tomorrow. Tonight, we are not preparing dinner – we placed an order at the albergue for a take away meal and spent the rest of the afternoon inside the communal area. And, once again, we used the drier for our clothes … clothes that are not supposed to be tumble dried … oops!

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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 area, we were talking about our day and agreed that, weather-wise, it must have been one of the most difficult days on the Camino.

There’s a cat in the house:

Later that evening the rain stopped for a brief 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 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 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 really painful tonight … we will see how the next couple of days unfold …

Click here for Day 12 …

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