A recurring theme in my Camino walk (and blog) has been the alternating trials and blessings of the Camino (and life). Yesterday was a perfect example. I headed out from Barcelos on what was to be a 34.7 km day, the longest day yet. Before I was out of town, the rain started coming down and did not stop all day. Even the best rain gear can’t handle that and condensation from the inside begins to accumulate, making chest, back and arms wet. Before long, I was soaked inside and out and, as the trails began to turn into puddles, my socks and trail runners were also wet right through. I was probably as discouraged as I have been this entire trip and, for the first time, wondered whether I should just quit.
At about the 20 km point, I decided to stop for the day at Casa Fernanda, which had been recommended in a couple of guidebooks. It was a family home owned by Fernanda and her husband, Ignacio, with a large building out back with 10 beds. I was greeted by Fernanda, who immediately relieved me of my wet outer gear and soggy shoes and socks, taking them inside to dry. I was joined by an equally wet American couple that I had met earlier and a man and his daughter from the Netherlands. Fernanda cooked us supper on an outside wood stove and fed us various Portuguese delicacies and a traditional meal, all served inside her house. All the wet clothes that we had shed before a delicious hot shower were hung in various places in her house and we had a great evening talking with her and each other, surrounded by her five dogs and seven cats. Most amazing was the fact that the card for all this was a “donativo”, meaning whatever we cared to pay. Needless to say, Fernanda did very well and deserved every centavo (or whatever the smallest part of the Euro is called).