Day 4 Casa Fernanda Here We Come

Day 4

June 2, 2019

Hot in my little bunk…oh yeah. There was no air circulating in the “dormitory” where my bed is located. The facilities at INBarcelos are fantastic otherwise. There is a lot of storage for all your stuff, and they supply towels, blankets, pillows, and even a bath gel. In Camino terms I’m stayin’ at The Ritz. (Insert Mel Brookes rendition here)

I heard from Susan Lawrence…..Susan, Bene, and I were The Family during our 2013 Camino. Amazingly we have managed to remain in contact. Susan is starting to walk the Coast to Coast route in Northern England today! Of course I am hoping she has a wonderful time. We did have such a fantastic experience on our Camino….OK, so you should really understand I think I drove Susan nuts…what with my starting each day at 6am. (or earlier) Notice she’s not walking anywhere near me now?

Today shouldn’t be as arduous as the past two days. The temperature is cooling down….yeah, promises, promises.

First thing this morning I head across the hall to the area where breakfast is served, as part of the basic offer from the Hostel. I am looking around to get understand what is offered. A woman walks up to me and says “Are you from Canada?” To which I answer honestly “Yes”. She then says “are you Cam?”… I frightened. I say “Yes” but it is pensive at best. She then introduces herself as Patty, and I had made a comment on a website based on her departure date from Porto. (The same as mine) I admit I do not remember exactly answering this blog posting, but there is a faint memory of this…putting my mind at ease. Patty is from Oshawa about 20 minutes away from my place. We chatted for a couple of minutes, and then headed out to get an earlier start with her walking partner Dianna.

The only other person in the kitchen area was a young woman cycling the Camino. She introduced herself as Yajaira. A young Doctor originally from Peru, by way of Mexico, now living in Barcelona. I was such a delightful chance meeting….such is life on the Camino. I bid Yajaira a safe Camino. As she is traveling by bicycle there is little chance we will meet again….but it was nice to spend 10 minutes together learning about each other.

Finally downstairs, and out the door just after 8 am.

Walking was a bit easier today, and I have only 20 km to go to one of the most famous Albergues on the Portuguese Camino. The name of Albergue is Casa Fernanda. This is run by Maria Fernanda and her husband and it the subject of rave reviews from all who have stayed here. The trick is there are only 10 beds, but the hospitality is over the top. Everything is home made…and you are welcomed into Maria’s house.

So off I go. It is another day of relentless sun….but the temperature is promised to be somewhat lower than before. My walking day starts right around 8am, rather civilized I think, and the way out of town is well marked. This is always a bonus….nothing like getting lost first thing in the day….a real bummer when this happens. 

I walk, constantly trying to find shade to protect my sunburned neck and right arm….at least I am trying. I didn’t’ think of the Pharmacia last night….kicking myself this morning.

I walked about hours in absolute solitude….not seeing a single soul. My playlist started with Brainwashed, then went to Tommy by The Who….this is a tune of specific significance to me.

Allow me to explain.

For a couple of years I spent the summer in a place called Ignace, Ontario. This is after Thunder Bay, but before Winnipeg, right on the Trans Canada, at a cottage owned by my friend’s family. This “cottage” had been built by their Great Grandfather….imagining the railroad would be built through this location. His plan was to be the mayor when al of this happened. Apparently he misjudged the actual location of the railroad, and the cottage, although located on an impressive location was no where near where the actual railroad was finally built.

This cottage had a player piano, beautiful china, and was perched atop of the most beautiful view of the lake.The sons of the owner, my friends, and I would hitch hike up there and spend the summer doing the most stupid things. Let’s say the $10 my Mother and Father send me by mail was spent partially on food. I was also enough, if managed properly, to invest in an occasional cigar, butterscotch sundaes and in one case a Playboy magazine. I definitely didn’t have the nerve to buy this….but Laurie did.

Nuff’ said. These summers were so memorable for too many reasons to get into.

Here’s the connection. In 1969 we were hitch hiking back to Toronto and made it to Thunder Bay where we met a friend of the family owning the cottage. They said “Have you heard the new Who album?”……to which we all said “Uh, no”. There was no running water and not electricity….we had no contact with this outside world except for the $10 email each week.

The experience hearing this changed my life. I was the first. Lay down with the stereo speakers on either side of your head, and they would lay all 4 sides of this remarkable pice of music……it was literally mind blowing. I can still recall the overwhelming sense of marvel, how this music was changing my musical perspective. This wasn’t a collection of songs….it was an Opera. In a word….Mind Blowing. (OK, two words…..critic)

To this day Tommy evokes this moment in my life….well before headphones were a part of the consumer electronic scene. 

Today was one of those days…..

After another hour or so I ran into Patty and her walking companion Dianna. (from Frankfurt Germany) They had stopped for a bite to eat, and I had caught up to them. Patty asked if I was applying sunscreen for my ultra red arm….and I said I was planning to find a Farmacia to get this. She insisted kindly, I use hers…which I did….because I was trying to save the skin on my arm and neck…. the offer could not be refused.

At this point we were walking together. Dianna was wanting to walk further than Casa Fernanda…. so Patty and I would bid her fond farewell when we arrived….which turned out to be just after 1:00pm.

There are some simple rules at Casa Fernanda….don’t even think about coming in before 2PM….but I did anyway….

Maria Fernanda and her husband could not have been more hospitable. We were early, but they welcomed us, along with Ana from Germany, and offered us soup from last night with cider and wine…..hard to refuse when you are spend.

This evening should be quite wonderful….Maria and her husband are genuinely wonderful people….and make everyone feel like family….in every way.

More on this experience tomorrow…….