The miracle of the wayside fountain

It was a good stretch to Santarém, with the heat squeezing

T3:E5 – Valada>>Santarém

Today's chronicle begins with yesterday. Yesterday, after the report, more things happened. The Canadian and the German had seen a place to have dinner and off we went, the three of us. The place was Zé Maioral's barbecue and, when we arrived, there was a couple of German pilgrims using a translator to find out what there was to eat. The lady at the grill only spoke Portuguese, but with the help of some customers, things got better.

We went to the esplanade and in the meantime two more pilgrims known to them arrived, a Canadian and a German, who were staying in another hostel. So the table was made up of a German man and a German woman, young men, a Canadian man, a Canadian woman and me, the old ones.

When the owner of the grill came to see what we wanted, as soon as she saw that I was Portuguese, she passed the paper and pencil to my hands, so that I could write down the order.

Who wanted soup? They all wanted it, but they wanted to know what it was about. Under my responsibility, I ensured that the Portuguese soups were all good. Next, the Canadian wanted fish and the new German was a vegetarian. The owner brought mackerel and a fried sardine, as well as various pastries (cod, suckling pig, shrimp, and samosas). In short: fried sardines for one, codfish cakes for the rest, salad and red wine for all.

I just tell them that they were delirious about everything. They loved the soup, the pastries flew, they made soups in the rest of the salad and the wine jug was gone.



The friendly owner saw how satisfied the people were and insisted on bringing a small plate of very small shrimp from the river that could be eaten whole, except for the beards.

With the foreigners making sure they were full and couldn't eat anything else, the check came. When they saw the total, they thought it was so cheap that they forced me to see if there was anything missing. There was no shortage, but the account was properly photographed.

I can't relate the lively conversations we had during dinner, because, in addition to a few touches of French from Canada, plus German, plus Spanish, plus my wretched English and everyone talking at the same time, well... ensure it was lively and fun.

We went to the hostel, I picked up the clothes that were still drying in the street and went up to the room. The huge Dane, who had arrived so beat up that he didn't even want to have dinner with us, was fast asleep... with the window wide open.

And this was my first time in a hostel, Dois Caminhos, good, clean, simple and run by a very friendly Spaniard and an Italian woman. It's interesting that everyone introduces themselves with only their first name, everyone addresses each other as you... and everyone walks at their own pace.

I had breakfast there and the Spaniard asked if anyone had forgotten anything. Everyone, including me, replied that they had everything. I was already carrying my backpack when I noticed that my towel and toothbrush were in the room…



So I left Valada with the Tagus River on my right, on one of those really good mornings. And isn't it that two dogs, brand new but full of character, who did everything possible to bite my legs, jumped in my way? They were really determined, they walked behind me for a long time and what really saved me was the bat.

I walked in the shadow of the dyke that prevents the river from flooding, I passed under the D. Amélia bridge, a project by Gustave Eiffel inaugurated by King D. Carlos. The path was so straight that you didn't even need to see the marks, you just had to follow the footprints that the gang left in the dust.

In one of the few shadows, the Canadian and the German were resting and having something to eat. I also stopped to eat the sandwich I had prepared at the hostel, they finished first and walked away and, while I was finishing, listening to the singing recital given by the birds, an elderly pilgrim passed by, a little out of sorts, and the Dane, my roommate.

The path started to get rough. Road without any shade, very hot, from kilometer 12 to 18 it was a lot of suffering.

Suddenly, when turning a curve in the road, I come face to face with the Canadian and the German. The next minute, the new German arrives. We start to attack the final climb to Santarém and, miraculously, a fountain and water tanks appear right on the side of the road. We took advantage of it and stayed there for a while to rest.

Arriving in Santarém, the hostel was still closed. We went to a cafe right next door, where we found the Dane, full of bad knees and in bad shape. After a while, the Canadian arrived. When we went to register at reception (again, I'm the only Portuguese), there was already what I called a slightly disjointed old man, who is Italian and will be my partner in a room with four bunk beds...



Read the other episodes of Season 3 of The Walker saga:

Episode 1 - Next to the Lisbon Cathedral, Season 3 of the Walker saga begins
Episode 2 - Today we don't have leatherettes
Episode 3 - Misadventures of a man from the Algarve on the laps of the big city
Episode 4 - Between dirt road and tarmac, to the catfish fisherman weighing 10 kilos


Read some more!
A strong region needs a strong press and, these days, the press depends on its readers. We make all Sul Infomação content available free of charge, because we believe that it is not through barriers that the public approaches responsible and quality journalism. Therefore, your contribution is essential.  
Contribute here!