Date: 11 April 2018
Walked from: Coimbra
Walked to: Anadia
Distance: 34 km
We were sitting outside the church in the village of Mala, sharing random items of food from our backpacks, when an elderly lady, dressed from head to toe in black, beckoned me over to her. I was handed a plastic carrier bag with something quite large and fairly heavy in it. Bread! Possibly the biggest loaf of bread I’d ever seen! And although I had no idea what she was saying to me, or vice-versa, it was clearly meant as a gift for me and Tim, my new walking buddy who I’d met seven or eight kilometres before (and who, you may be able to tell from the photo below, has a quite incredible beard) and who you can see in the photo below, holding said bread aloft. It was so lovely of her, so kind… and yet, I confess that when we first tried to sample the bread we were a bit confused. It was rock hard. There was no way to break into it. We thought perhaps it was provided to us as a weapon to protect us from the local dog population, or as an extra burden for us to carry on our way to Santiago. Turns out it was a delicious brioche, which softened after a few hours, and which we had for most of our dinner, accompanied by red wine and cheese.
Approaching the town of Mealhada we had a further encounter with another elderly lady (photo of the lady below, for illustration) who seemed determined to stop us walking on our intended (way marked) route. Again, we had no bloody idea what she was saying to us, but as so much of the route for the past few days (and even earlier today) had been the scene of much flooding, we thought perhaps it was that. When she was clear that we’d just start walking that way and walk back if we had to, she decided we needed a guide and stomped along with us for almost a kilometre before realising we weren’t for turning. I am confident she was trying to help us and it was very kind of her to go out of her way, but as the route was in fact fine, I fear the reason for her concern will remain a mystery.
The third and final elderly-Portuguese-lady-who-we-couldn’t-understand ‘shout out’ of the day goes to the lovely nun at the Saint Jose social centre, who gave us a welcome home for the night in the spic and span ‘donativo’ (AKA give what you like) hostel the nuns provide for weary walkers in Anadia. She gave us very detailed instructions about the hostel and the town; we didn’t understand and she knew we didn’t, but it was all done with great humour and kindness, and made for a fitting end to a fun day of random encounters. Oh, and it didn’t rain on the walk today either. Woo hoo!!!