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.
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.