October 8–10, 2022. At Baiona Spain.

Dear Christine. As of this afternoon I am 130 km from Santiago de Compostela, the approximate halfway point from Porto. We also crossed into Spain yesterday. Tonight is my 11th night in Europe. The days are flying by!!

I will give you a better overview of the last three days and include some pictures later, but for now I want to focus on a fundamental change in this journey. Until this morning I walked in the company of Kris. When we began it was understood that she would go as far as Oia Spain and then decide whether to go further or spend some special time with her friend Tanya who runs a tourist guest house in that town. She elected the latter and thus the “fork in the road”.

As we walked together the focus was much on conversation between us and less on the experience around us. Embarking alone this morning I found the experience vastly different. The only voice I heard was the one in my thoughts. My awareness of the surroundings was heightened as I could no longer rely upon Kris’ experience on this route to guide me.

I’m grateful for the time that I had in her company and I am equally grateful to have the experience of going forward alone. I made excellent time today in spite of this being my first rainy day on the Camino. The skies are supposed to clear tomorrow. I have scheduled a “rest day“ to take in this wonderful seaside village and plan out the next few days. Now for the overview:

October 8 found us walking parallel with the shore and being very aware of the tide.

It was low tide which treated us to the sight of local men and women harvesting shellfish. The green things that Kris is looking at are large crabs, covered with seaweed.

In the distance I made out a tidal swimming pool.

Remember when we were at Jersey Island off the coast of France and a huge tidal swimming complex was located across the street from our lodging? Well, just like that one, the walls of the “pool“ are built to a height slightly lower than high tide. When the tide comes in water overtops the walls and refreshes the impoundment. I wonder how many centuries this “technology“ has been employed by coastal civilizations.

We came upon some unusual stones, carved flat with slightly elevated edges.

These were iron age “salt pans“. Ancient people created these to hold shallow seawater that then evaporated in the sun, leaving salt behind for harvest.

There were more windmills, this one with wooden vanes is the only one of its kind in Portugal.

All of the others use cloth sails suspended from the four masts.

The following day there was more coastal walking.

The surf was really up which seemed predictive of the changing weather and rain that hit this morning (the 10th).

Kris had arranged a ferry crossing of the Minho river for the 9th from Portugal in Spain. Near its outlet to the Atlantic the river is very wide which is why there is no bridge until miles inland. Our “ferry“ was little more than a powered fishing boat.

The passage was exhilarating and only took about 10 minutes.

After a brief photo opportunity, more hiking followed.

Oia and the guesthouse “La Cala” were our destinations for the evening of the 9th.

Kris and I were received with open arms by Tanya, the owner of the guesthouse.

She and Kris had shared duties as volunteers in an alburgue a few years ago and struck up a lasting friendship.

Tanya is from the United States and took on the remarkable task of renovating an older structure and converting it into a very modern facility that serves up to 10 guests a night. In honor of the reunion we all met at a delightful restaurant just down the hill and enjoyed excellent meat dishes, excellent wine, and liquid dessert in the form of glasses of port wine. I was treated more like a long-lost friend than a new acquaintance.

This morning I woke early in order to get a head start on a damp and dreary day.

In spite of the rain the walk was peaceful and meditative.

I met two ladies of approximately my age from New Zealand, both excellent hikers.

A part of the path was through forest upon a 2,000 year old Roman road. Tracks were deeply grooved into the stone from the passage of countless chariots and carts in those bygone days. It was extraordinary.

Tomorrow I will enjoy touring this town and provide you pictures and insight into what it’s like for me to be “invisible“ to the comings and goings of the local population.

Sleep well, which seems the appropriate thing for me to say since it’s night here. I love you. Peter

PS. Please give Kane and little Lennon big hugs from me. It’s incredible that two of our grandchildren would suffer broken bones on consecutive days!

12 thoughts on “A Fork in the Road

  1. Are you in Baiona? That was a lovely town! We ended our first Portuguese Camino in Baiona, and started our second in that town. Make sure you see the Pinta. BTW – the Parador and it’s grounds are beautiful!! Take a walk up there. I hope your feet are feeling better. I also think it is interesting that both of your Grands broke the same arm!! Rock on my friend – LnF

    • Colleen Simon says:

      I recall walking that cart path with the ruts from wagons of days long gone by. It literally put you in the tracks if history! When we entered Baiona, and I reached the beach near our lodging, I dropped my shoes & socks down with my pack and poles on the beach and entered the chilled waters with Thanksgiving and reverence. I emerged from the water renewed and ready for the next days journey. I loved our night in Baiona. Good food and sharing with our new friends from the trail. My senses were alive to the architecture and ironwork. The aroma from eating establishments, oh. And the tasre of the food when it arrived at the table. We talked, laughed and shared. Wishing my friend Pete all of that and more!

  2. Christine Teter says:

    Hey, Pete!
    When I opened my email this evening, the first thing I saw was your “Picmis” (to be precise – pictures and missive). I have loved reading them since you first started writing them low those many years ago. You guessed it right – I have no idea when that was! Sigh . . .
    Anyway, keep posting your Picmis because it makes me feel like I’m there!’

    Thanks so much for taking me along.


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