Pilgrims from all over the world, unite!

Eight pilgrims, of various nationalities, gathered at the dinner table

T4: E4 – Branca>>São João da Madeira

One of the most interesting things about the Camino is the interaction between us. This happened yesterday at the dinner that brought together eight pilgrims, plus the owner of the hostel, himself a pilgrim.

Three Americans, teachers, a retired English woman, a Slovak student and a couple who I only discovered today were Portuguese, because they didn't say anything, probably because the entire conversation took place in English. Interestingly, one of the Americans, from Colorado, a state in the very center of the United States, spoke French.

The owner of the hostel has an agreement with a nearby restaurant and the menu was oven-roasted pork and potatoes, and it was very good. One of the foreigners was kindly laughed at when he said that the chicken was delicious and another, taking some huge broccoli from the dish, sighed, saying he couldn't believe he would like vegetables so much.



As you can imagine, food – and wine – are great conversation starters and we talked about everything, from the education system, to Brexit (I haven't found an English person who supported it yet) and the reasons behind each to be a pilgrim. I think the most consensual answer was “because yes… “

The Americans found Lisbon to be a very clean capital, but were surprised by the number of run-down buildings. Another of our specificities was Portuguese coffee, which they say is unique and cannot be replicated outside of here. And the wine… They had passed by the door of Caves de S. João, they had entered and, sympathetically, they were offered some tastings. Evidently, they bought some bottles, but, with an amusingly regretful look, they said that they no longer had any... But everyone loved the Port wine with which the dinner was finished, while drinking it in quantity, as if it were normal wine.



Among the pilgrim stories, I got one about foreigners who were going to Santiago, but, during Covid, found the border closed. As they were told that the only airport that was open was the Faro, they decided to turn back and go to the Algarve, on foot. Probably, when they got there everything was already back to normal.

This hostel in Branca has a particularity: it has no price, it accepts any donation that the pilgrim wants to leave. But I'm almost certain that the owner won't be harmed.

Returning to today's episode, I expected worse from this stage. Although the natural landscape was not great, the humanized landscape was interesting, especially the historic center of Bemposta and the many medieval remains that can be found.

And people are always willing to help. I had a little hesitation about which direction to take and soon a driver started gesturing, pointing the right way.



In the garden championship, today's cup goes to the garden guardian, prepared for whatever comes or may...

However, the entire route was covered in great humidity, which thickened in Santiago de Riba-Ul (fantastic name of the land) and, from Cucujães onwards, in the last three kilometers, it turned into rain.

Properly equipped with a backpack, staff, raincoat, dripping wet, after 20 kilometers, I entered directly into another world, another dimension: on 8th Avenue, a huge shopping center at the entrance to São João da Madeira!!!



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