12/23/2011 to Vila Nova De Famalico

It looks like my journey down the Camino Portugal has ended. I was told there was an open Albergee here in Vila Nova De Famalico. So it was my destination today. But I’ve lost the trail, it is too weak.

This is a good sized city, and the first building that looked useful was the library. The young woman at the information desk had never heard of the Camino de Santiago, much less the Portuguese route, or the concept of albergees. She thought I was looking for a specific street, and sent me off on a goose chase.

I ended up going back to the library, finding out where the tourist office is, and from there booking a pension for 22E a night. And no, the woman at the tourist office did not speak English.

Those Americans who feel they should speak more than one language because most Europeans do shouldn’t. The everyday people that I meet, like the woman at the library information desk, the people on the street that I ask for directions, the clerks at the stores, do not speak multiple languages, they speak their native tongue. If you ask them if they speak English, they might reply “a little”, but you’ve just heard all they’ve got. The professional manager here at my pension speaks get-by english, but the volunteers at the albergees don’t. So don’t feel out-educated, English speaking Americans.

I have in front of me a carton of fruit juice. The contents are described in 7 different languages, including Arabic and Japanese. English is not one of them. I’ve ran across a number of brass plaques with four different languages, English not being one of them. I’ve concluded that, contrary to propaganda, English is no big deal.

Speaking of speaking it’s something I never thought I’d miss. But right now I’d love a fluent English language conversation with anybody about anything. I feel half developed without being able to communicate more subtly. My words feel as coarse as slamming bricks together.

Thank goodness for the kindness and patience of all the people that have helped me. Today I must have asked a dozen people for assistance. They were all as helpful as the confusion of Babel allowed. The language of compassion goes far deeper than our native tongues, which in comparison lie only on the surface of our brains like tattoos.

It is tiring to never know where you are going to sleep each night, to learn a new market each day, to be alert for capricious drivers for hours, to exercise as much as I do, to get friendly but jarring honks every 15 minutes, and to struggle with simple communications. I start fretting over the amount of time and effort it takes to secure food, shelter, distance. The novelty of the novelty wears out and my thoughts revolve around the many comforts and conveniences of home.

So in Porto, my destination tomorrow, I am going to take a few days rest over Christmas in one place and wait for my enthusiasm to bubble up again. I trust that it will. I’ve felt this way before. I’ll see something amazing and think, “Wow, if I had stayed home I never would have seen this!” …..

I’m sure that trees talk amongst themselves. The curves of trunk and branch and spin of leaf have tree meanings. Look at all that complexity. I wish I could understand it.


Statistics on Spain.

20 Days in Spain

18 days cycling

38 miles per day average on days I cycled.

Accommodations average per day $9.20 (Most albergees were 5 euro.)

Food cost, coincidentally the same as accommodations, $9.21 a day.

My biggest misc expense was postage at $48.00

Pretty amazing to be able to travel in Spain for about $20 a day! I would chose the albergees and the Camino even if my pockets were bottomless. It is very enriching.

3 thoughts on “12/23/2011 to Vila Nova De Famalico

  1. Hi Brian, thanks for the holiday wishes. You asked me to let you know if I saw anything as beautiful as the Aran Islands. The northern part of Portugal in the mountains is lovely, the climbs make for great views. The cities of Bath in England, and Porto in Portugal, both world heritage sites, are fascinating to walk around in. Beauty is so personal, and there are so many places to find it.



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