Before commencing our Camino we explored the magnificent medieval city of Oporto. One member of our group described the city silhouette as a pop up card with the city emerging like a fairy tale image. We had our pilgrim passports stamped at the Cathedral, took a boat ride on the River Douro and a visited a port wine bodega to sample the latest vintage. Next day equipped with trusty walking poles and scallop shells on our day packs we found our first yellow arrow to guide Our Way out of the small village of Vilarinho.
So far the weather has been kind. Cool mornings with clear blue skies have made for pleasant walking beside fields and vineyards bursting with Spring growth. Those who choose to continue onward after lunch seek out more shady pathways and avoid the late afternoon sun.
The words of one member of our group provide a glimpse of our experiences.
Tap of poles on road
Stone walls and yellow arrows
Perfume of roses
Fresh leaves of grapevine
Making shadows on the road
It’s hot by lunchtime
Three days of walking led us to the picture perfect small town of Ponte de Lima with its magnificent arched bridge built on Roman foundations. It’s beauty is further enhanced in the fading evening light.
A glowing pink sky
Reflected in the river
As we cross the bridge
Rural Portugal seems to straddle all the ages from Roman to Medieval to modern. Sometimes it feels as if we are walking through a fairy story until the smell of cow manure assaults us. We are greeted by unexpected sights such as conical haystacks leaning towards and away from each other as if conversing.
Further on a woman kneels by the river washing clothes on a slab of smooth rock – a romantic vision that belongs in the past. Other women clear reeds at the water’s edge to make a washing space. They say they have washing machines at home but prefer this outdoor washing ritual. Who can argue with that? The peacefulness and beauty of the scene and undertaking domestic chores collectively are just two reasons why this age-old custom endures.
These and so many other images blend like a patchwork quilt into wonderful memories of our journey so far. We look forward in anticipation to the joys and challenges of the coming days.
With thanks to Sue H for sharing written reflections and Haiku poetry, to Marg K for her descriptive image of Oporto and to Jo T and Silvana C for their photo contributions.