• Diana

Galos, bilingualism, and the art of asking for help - Segundo dia

Steps walked = 49,433

Miles walked = 18.22

Blisters developed = 1 big one and 1 baby-sized

Times patience tested = COUNTLESS

It all started with that pesky galo crowing 🐓 at 3:50am. He was doing his job of alerting everyone within an earshot that the sun would be rising in 2 hours. I get it. Nevertheless, I wasn’t having any of it. My weary body couldn’t go back to sleep and I started to think of all the delicious meals I could make with this rooster that was keeping me from much needed sleep: Coq au vin, roasted rooster, stuffed rooster, caldo de gallo. Clearly, I was not made of the same early rising cloth as this creature so I thought, this day will be doomed.

But much to my delight, it turned out to be a wonderfully tiring and humbling day; both emotionally and intellectually. Let’s start with the magnificence of a misty Portuguese morning:

Day 1 was filled with cobblestones and playing chicken with cars on a busy road...today was absolutely magical as the path wound through forests filled with eucalyptus trees. The fragrance, the solitude, and the quietness would typically have me uneasy, but I was so happy to be on the go once again and observing the splendor of the Portuguese countryside waking up from its slumber.

The misty dirt road led me to a bridge that was far from ordinary. It was build in 1185 and its mind blowing to see that it still exists, humbly servicing pilgrims today. Its permanence and simplicity are astounding. I thought of how the men who worked on this bridge, how they must have been doing their job without thinking almost 900 years into the future. How wonderful would it be if we our labors in our life could remain on this Earth for this long?

Trekking further along on the path I came across a charming little town called Rates. And the highlight of the town is the Igreja do São Pedro...it did NOT disappoint.

Yes, it looks like it needs a good scrubbing, but this church was built in the 11th century...that’s right, 11th. 🤯😳 Its worn out reliefs above the entrance are a beautiful hint of how old this church is. As you enter, it’s not as cold and austere as I would have imagined. The parish/church is still in use, and the banner strewn across the altar for the celebration of Pentecost is a wonderful reminder that every day, no matter who you are, we’re ALL given the gifts of fortitude, piety, fear of God, counsel, understanding, wisdom, and knowledge...we just have to use them.

Hamlet after hamlet, gravel/dirt paths under foot, I was having a splendid walk admiring the ancient stone walls with wildflowers growing in the cracks and the trickling streams of irrigation spouts that have stood the test of time. And then I hit the proverbial “wall”. I couldn´t go any further.

It was right around the 8 mile marker that I thought, “This isn’t bad...I have 10 more miles to go...I can do this...remember the time you gave birth to an 8 lb. baby...or remember that time you persevered when finishing that climb in Korea?” My inner pep talks became more pronounced as I decided to take a rest and sit on a stone wall under the 11am sun.

The shooting pain in my feet, the fatigue, the lack of rest, the galo...it all caught up with me as I was traversing between two farms miles away from the nearest town. I realized that I had to make a decision...

Option 1: I leave my pack behind (the source of 30% of my pain) and continue

Option 2: Hitchhike back to Lisbon totally sensible as my muscles were giving out on me Option 3: I curl up in a fetal position in the field of soybeans, and pray to God for enough courage to continue.

All seemed like viable options for this worn out almost delirious woman.

In that instant an older gentleman walking the Camino by himself asked me in Portuguese “Tudo bem?” (“Is everything ok?”)...and in my typical Diana fashion I unconvincingly responded, “Sim, tudo bem” (“Yes, I’m good.”). Now for those who know me, I am not one to readily ask for help or company when I need it. Perhaps it’s pride or lack of humility, but I, like many of us in the human race, have been conditioned over time to suffer in silence and not ask for help or simply believe that we are not worthy enough for the company.

My lame attempt at responding in the affirmative wasn’t settling in well with this gentleman, and he said “Attends, attends!” (“Wait a second”) as he dug into his pack to grab some trail mix to give to me. He asked me if I was from Spain as my Portuguese was clearly primitive at best. And we stuck up a conversation with a mixture of Spanish, Portuguese, and French. Turns out this angel, Bernard, was from Switzerland, the French part he proudly mentioned, was bilingual (French/Portuguese) and he was more than happy to converse with me in whichever language. His company was heaven-sent as the nuclear option #2 of hitchhiking back to Lisbon was as tempting as a cold bottle of water in the desert.

We walked the remaining 10 miles together and discussed matters regarding life, religious conversions, and the Camino. It was the first time in ages that I had the opportunity to have candid discussions in French and it was liberating to be able to flex that part of my brain and be understood.

As we walked and talked, the pain in my feet dissipated, or at least I was distracted enough not to think about it 😉. The last 2 miles were B-R-U-T-A-L as the trail turned into paved roads and cobblestone streets (my arch nemesis) and crushing my sore feet. On any ordinary day this is a charming entrance into a gorgeous city, but after the day that I had, this Jersey girl wasn’t having any of it. Bernard and I were encouraging each other by discussing our plans to rest, eat a hearty meal, and laughing at our aches and pains.

And before we knew it, Barcelos with its symbol of the rooster, appeared across the river...of course, it had to be the galo.

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