Andrej Raider

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The holy way to Fatima (Viana do Castelo – Fátima)

Posted on | July 26, 2011 | No Comments

Original date of post | March 26, 2009 | 

Unfortunately in this week our camera turned to trash. Most pictures are deleted so Im sorry to say the next posts will be without pics.

After a really nice stay in Viana Do Castelo we marched towards Esponde, which we did not reach. A wave of laziness overcame us and we decided to make ourselves a favor and reduce the weight of our backpacks. So we emptied the wine-bottles which we still had from the hunters ad camped on the parking-space of a restaurant. The next day we passed Esponde and walked some more kilometers until a little village called Estela. We reached a pretty nice 4-star hotel with the intention to get permission to sleep on the parking-space. But it came differently. We started to chat with the sympathetic receptionists, who really seemed to like the project. And once more we were overwhelmed by hospitality and friendliness and slept in a 4-star hotel this night.

Hotel room in Estela the next morning

Hotel room in Estela the next morning

We arrived in Povo De Varzim the next day. This day, the fire-fighters-period began… From that day on we have been sleeping at the fire-fighters stations almost every night. Sometimes in a bed, sometimes on a mattress, but always warm, dry, and provided with alimentation.  Same the next day in Vila Do Conde. Eventually we decided to walk some kilometers on the highway since this was the fastest way to Porto, the next big destination. Porto is famous for its “portwine”, or “green wine” as they say. Its growing and being produced only in north-Portugal. A very special and delicious product. In this city we stayed 2 nights at the place of 3 cool girls. Carmo, Monica and Catarina and enjoyed their laughs, culture and company a lot.

At the day we continued we got out of the city very late. The sun was already about to set. So we arrived in another little town, Gaia, late at night, where we met an elder lady, who first gave us some Euros, then a whole bag of food and afterwards insisted to come with us and search for a place to stay for us. We reached a huge fire-station which was closed. The friendly lady started to knock the door, and since they did not open we thanked her for her help and were about to continue. But apparently the lady was unwilling to give up. She started to hit the door that strongly that apparently the firefighters started to panic. A firefighter opened a window in the second floor and asked what we want. The lady asked him kindly to let us sleep at their station. When he refused, the friendly lady lost her friendliness. “You WILL let them sleep at this place!  You hear me boy?!” Eventually we thanked the lady and the firefighter for letting us sleep there. The next day we reached Espinho and from that day on our way went along the road N 109. 150 kilometers N 109 and the permanent sound of motors in my ears.

Without special events we continued through Ovar and Estarreja until we reached the small Saleru at night, where we decided to not finish the last 10 km anymore since there were drunk and strange people all around on the streets. We escaped into a bar. When we entered the customers stared at us with kinda shocked faces. We seemed to be the highlight of the evening. As usual, we asked if we can sleep in the backyard and the first reply was a plate with fries, rise and chicken, plus an amazing breakfast. It was an amazing feeling to see that the people who watched us with mistrust at first sight, said farewell to us with wishes of luck and little presents. In Aveiro an incredible heat came over so that we were almost crawling to Ilhavo, which was only 5 km away. But hose 5 km seemed endless. At this point I realized for the first time, that people get louder and anxious, the more we went down to the south. Now, company was sometimes stressful. Between the national road and the highway, we wandered to the bigger city Figuera da Foz which we first liked so much that we planned to stay for some longer. But the city – though so big and full of people and possibilities – didnt offer a lot for us. We could not find a place to sleep, not even a safe place outside, no food, not much help in general. We were resting in a bar called “keep walking” and finally decided to keep walking. Next stop: Vagos, a tiny village. In the deep night. Where a couple of men invited us to drink a beer and then brought us to a little hospital, where we could eat and sleep that night. From the next day on, an interesting occurrence began. When people spotted us on the street, they called us “Fatima-pilgrims”. It was true that we were thinking of visiting Fatima. But now the curiosity grew. People told us stories about pilgrims who were cured from their sicknesses when they were walking to Fatima. The irony was, that the closer we came to Fatima, the more we started to feel sick. it seemed like we were picking up the sicknesses other people lost on their way. This part of the way felt very heavy and depressing.

One day, when we – once more – did not find any place to sleep, we decided to build up our tent on a croft of some farmers, hoping that we would manage to get away the next morning, before the farmers could find us. The morning came. And when I got out of the tent, I saw the farmers wife standing on the other side of the field, staring at us. In the same moment she shouted something to us. She sounded angry. She rushed to a tree and started to pick oranges. I warned Janina: “Janina, get out of the tent, the farmers wife saw us and it looks like she wants to stone us with oranges for ruining their land.” We started to strike the tent but it was too late: The woman rushed to us with the oranges and I prepared for acrobatic obstacle avoidance maneuvers. But in all the excitement we seemed to misunderstand the situation. The woman gave us the oranges to be a supply for the way for us and wished us all the best on our way to Fatima. We kept walking to Fatima. And finally: We arrived. In Fatima we reached the worst state of our health status. I almost couldnt talk. My throat pained. I had fever. We had to spend the first night on a parking space and 2 more nights in a very dislikable hostel. Fatima is the center of Portugal’s christianity. Men and women were separated and under no circumstances we could meet in one of the sectors. The really bad thing for me was, that there was no food. At all. Women, at least had a huge kitchen in their are, so if they were hungry they had the right to prepare food. Men did not have this right. But therefor the men had a television and cards to play (?). The women were locked in their rooms at 10 pm and could not leave anymore. The mens shower was so dirty that you would probably be dirtier than before, when you took a shower. The hostel keeper was just like the hostel: Very dislikable.

We really did not like the place but we decided to stay for 2 nights to recover from the sicknesses we picked up on the way. But it did not help. At all. After the third night in Fatima, we still felt unbelievably bad and decided to get out of there.

We kept walking. And for some reason, with every step away from Fatima, step by step, we got our health back. What is the meaning of this? 42?

To be continued…

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