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Bleak

[Sunday 9th September; Portugal Day 9, Camino Day 2. Today’s walking distance 25.1 klms (total 60.5 to date)]


Today was “supposedly” a long walking day at almost 30 klms although in fact it was much shorter than that at around 25 klms. But it was a hard day, and “bleak” is the best description I can come up with.


When the alarm went off at around 6 am I looked outside to see quite a heavy fog had descended on the town. The aqueduct was shrouded in the mist. It looked quite eerily pretty. The fog lasted with us for at least half the day. As we plodded north with the gray Atlantic to our left there were times when we could barely see the water.


Leaving the Autor Gueshouse, Vila de Conde ...


Weather/fog matters aside, the walk out of Vila do Conde was quite pleasant. We wandered through the old town for a bit, and walking roughly northwest we ended up at the beachside town of Póvoa de Varzim. There we were greeted with the most amazing sight. There was clearly a festival of sorts going on, for the street in front of Igreja Paroquial de São José de Ribamar had been shut off and an incredible “mandala" had been made on the road. It wasn't a mandala in the true sense, but it had that feel to it to me. It must have been at least 300 meters long, perhaps more. A man was just finishing off the end nearest to the church when we arrived. I was thinking about how long it must have taken to make the whole thing. Given that this was a main road, I couldn’t imagine that it had been started more than about 24 hours earlier, and if so it was amazing that so much work had been done in such a relatively short time.


Below is the mandala type thing in front of the Igreja Paroquial de São José de Ribamar



The power of the internet/Facebook!! One of the appeals of walking a Camino is the process and routine of collecting carimbas (Portuguese)/sellos (Spanish) in your credencial. I had seen on a FB post a reference to a very cool stamp at a place called Barracuda Mar about 3 klms north of Póvoa de Varzim, and I wanted one too, so after a bit of mid-walk research after we left Póvoa de Varzim we found Barracuda Mar and sat and had a coffee on the shores of the Atlantic.



Not long after the coffee stop we turned slightly northeast and headed away from the ocean. The area is obviously a food-bowl, for we passed endless "greenhouses" growing all sorts of vegetables. These are huge constructions with ends which open out and vents on top both for temperature and moisture control I guess.


This part of the day's walk became a bit of a trudge, because the greenhouse walk just seemed to go on forever, and it wasn’t until after 3pm that we found a place to rest and eat.


Time is not on my side at the moment so I'm going to sign off now and leave you with an image of an ancient windmill I saw along the path. I hope to catch up, but we still have some long day's walking ahead of us.


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Peter Campbell is a traveller, photographer, author.  He lives in the south-west corner of Western Australia with his wife Janet and golden retriever Peggy alongside the Indian and Great Southern oceans, in a peaceful rural setting surrounded by tall trees and in the company of kangaroos and kookaburras.  He can be contacted at this email address.

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