Yesterday in the courtyard I noticed a gate leading outside. So this morning I left for the courtyard around 4:45 .. closing firmly the door behind me.. only to the discover that the courtyard had a gate… which is locked.
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But, but, but.. it wasn’t locked yesterday... well it is locked today, and very much so. OK … what to do now… not many options. The only hope is a bell next to the door I passed through. I press it… nothing… then there was a light… then a landlady came, opened the door and led me outside through the main entrance. I was quickly released from my imprisonment after all.
The Way continues to follow the main road. There are bunch of pilgrims on the road, wearing reflective vests and heading in the opposite direction, towards Fatima. As I pass a large truck parking place two dogs started jumping and barking like crazy … where do they get the energy so early in the morning.
I quickly reach a Camino avenue next to the small town. A mini park with two benches and a single tree looks like a good place for a brief rest. I continue on through the town … the road… and the suburbs. Charmingly decorated houses are interspersed with the broken down ruins, sometimes right next to each other. An old mansion covered with ivy has a sign saying it was built in 1798.
Next up a small town with the signs of a recent party and then a city. A local festival seems to have some connection with colourful umbrellas, which are everywhere. The path takes me over one … two bridges. I stopped for a bit to get my bearings and a kind passerby immediately stopped and pointed the Way.
I proceed a bit uphill, a bit to the left, over the railway track than again to the left… last bit of uphill… and I reach the albergue.
A Polish receptionist welcomes me in, points the key locations nearby.. how to return to the Camino tomorrow and how to reach the next albergue 22 km away. This albergue San Antonio sure looks great, nicely furnished, lovely garden… a real corner of paradise for tired peregrinos.
First to join me are Andy and Manuel the Italian who likes this place so much he almost feels like staying here longer. The rest of the familiar faces soon fill out the albergue … the French contingent, followed by the English one… Oswaldo, the Peruan guy I met in Fatima, Jorge and Adriano and a new peregrina – Stefanie. Stefanie is Australian/British /Finnish … and has legitimate passports from all three countries to prove it… a marathoner, it took her a while to adapt to the Camino pace (but when she did she actually… ran parts of it… like for more than dozen km!).
All in all a bunch of nice people made for interesting conversations … alas not all spoke English fluently so it served me as a sort of crash course for several languages.
One of the girls shared a story on how her feet collapsed about 10 km from the destination for the day. So she went and called a friend to cry on his shoulder a bit. A friend… like a true male… provided several helpful suggestions.. the girl… like a true female… only wanted to hear “there, there.. don’t you worry, everything will be all right”. A scene which vividly reminded me of a book “Men are from Mars, women are from Venus”.
The French started to play some music… first Elvis.. then Edit Piaff.
After dinner I ran into an Italian dad from Sardinia who is walking with his two teenage sons… and managing quite a pace so far.
That was day no. 13.