Camino Portuguese – wayfinding nightmare and blistering heat…
The Pilgrim’s Guide…John Brierley
Trust is like a mirror, you can fix it if it’s broken, but you can still see the crack in that mother fucker’s reflection.” Lady Gaga
The wayfinding nightmare began at the end of Day One. Although we’d heeded the guidebook advice and took a taxi to Moscavide to avoid the narrow pavements of Lisbon’s industrial area, we had little left in the tank at the end of the day to cope with constantly retracing our footsteps and the extreme mid-day heat.
By the end of Day Two, the waymarkers continued to differ from the guide route and diverted us onto a white sandy pathway alongside the rail lines, which offered no shelter or refreshment stops. On Day Three, the path led us into a field, bypassing the village where we had planned to stop for breakfast. Our trust in the guidebook dwindled as we trudged through the muddy tracks between tomato fields.
We ate a banana before heading off on our day’s trek; after 5km, those carbs had well and truly burnt off. When I couldn’t see a village on the horizon, fatigue started to set in. Combined with the rising heat, anxiety soon set in. Thankfully a couple we’d met the previous day stopped to chat and offered us a muesli bar, which Chrissy and I gratefully shared. Our gratitude increased with every step of the 5.4km trek required to reach a village and find a cafe.
It is fair to say John Brierley’s guidebook has been the main topic of conversation between the Pellegrino’s on this walk. The natural pathways that lead through the countryside shown in the guidebook have changed, perhaps due to access rights. However, as I’ve bought the latest and recently updated version, we did expect the walking route and daily distances to be accurate – they are not.
Without guaranteed refreshment stops and none of the pop-up drinks and food stops we regularly found on the Camino France’s, this is not a route for the unprepared – mentally or physically.
I wrote this blog a few days ago (no Wifi) – in the interim, we’ve learnt that John Brierley is back out on the Camino Portuguese and a few days ahead of us. Unfortunately, due to the lack of waymarkers, people are getting lost. The extra distances are then walked in scorching temperatures, leaving pilgrims fatigued. I appreciate that we are all on a pilgrimage; however, as we all carry your guidebook, we felt that; John Brierley, please up your game!
“Heat what heat?” said my friend in France, as their thermometer tipped over 35oC while Portugal allegedly waivered around 28oC.
Starts at 5.30am – breakfast is usually a banana, water bladders are filled, backpacks repacked, and our feet taped, mine by our resident taping specialist Chrissy. Applying kinesiology tape has minimised blisters and is also providing excellent ankle support – it’s revolutionary! So to all fellow Pellegrino’s, I say ditch the Compeed and learn how to use K-tape or Cure Tape as it is known here in Europe.
Where the bloody hell are we?
We are in Rabacal…according to the guidebook 214.7 km from Lisbon. Unfortunately, once again, Brierley’s book understated the distances. As such, we are constantly recalculating mileage, as walking too far under the mid-day sun results in more blisters. Yes, people, we’re all about the feet!! Self-care, particularly of the feet and leg muscles, is paramount for ensuring you have an enjoyable Camino.
Loving the food and the Portuguese people we have encountered in this beautiful country. Especially Tomar – we had a rest day here, taking a taxi to Fatima, then visiting Tomar’s Knights Templar castle.
I will write more about the food and towns when time and Wifi allow. Unfortunately, I have to use a combination of iPad and iPhone to cobble together posts. Despite doing this, I can still feel the data leeching out at a rate of knots!!
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