Day 5: Advagar 

Left of the hostel gate there are two arrows.  Blue one for Fatima pointing left and yellow one for Santiago pointing right.  This is where I bid adieu to the yellow arrows for a while, and exclusively follow the blue ones.

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The city is asleep and so are the suburbs. Occasionally some dogs bid me a “good morning” … at least that’s how I’ve chosen to interpret it.

At the outskirts of the town there is a newly built residential housing complex with five or six buildings, four floors and not a soul in sight. Just broken windows and empty doorways.

I was about to comment how Portuguese are such nice drivers,  mindful of the pedestrians,  when I hit the stretch of a forest road with cars hitting the curves as if driven by formula one drivers.

The forest is replaced by the olive groves with a gravel path. Next intersection has some kind of “pilgrim corner” with the large flags of Portugal and Brasil. In the shade sits senhor Francisco,  a “Caminho Custodian”  who hands out pilgrim  stamps and blessings. When he heard where I’m from, he pointed to a small Croatian flag. Senhor Francisco has a large wall with a bunch of selfies taken together with the passing pilgrims. People take a selfie with him and email him the  photo that he prints and puts on the wall. He also has guestbook,  browsing through the pages I spot a few countrymen who passed here last month.

The Way continues a bit uphill and a bit downhill until I reach Centro Cultural at Advagar where I planed a stop for today.  Good news is that I found it and the bad news is that there is not a soul in sight. Unless you count the cat stretching out on the terrace. When I dial the telephone… nobody seems to be home.

Right … since the next albergue is 10 km away its time for plan B.   There is a shade to be had,  inflatable mattress and a sleeping bag are in my backpack,  together with some energy bars and I could get water from the village.

Fortunately plan B has proven to be redundant.  First a lady called me back announcing that someone will show up with the key,  than another lady showed up …  than finally senhor Victor came with a key and plenty of hospitality cheer.

He warns me that the place is not a hotel,  but to me it has all the necessities,  showers,  toilets,  sheltered place to sleep … what more could a pilgrim want.

I sit outside with senhor Victor for a chat and a beer martini … shaken not stirred. I realised that I have a tendency that tends to land me in some hot water occasionally.  When I have a limited vocabulary and can’t speak a language fluently,  like Portuguese,  I usually try to fake an accent.  When I manage it,  people tend to assume fluency which I don’t have  and proceeded talking in rapid fire style. Keeping up…  is a challenge.

We chat on geopolitics and Donald Trump.  A lot of Europeans I spoke to follow US elections closely and remember how the story has began to play out in 1930-ties in Europe. Even though it looks like that sightly over to 40% of Americans seems to have forgotten.

At Advagar I experienced truly welcoming hospitality … by far the best on Camino so far.

That was day no.  5.