Camino: Porto to Santiago, Rants and raves, San Miguel de Allende

Birds on a wire

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The view from my terrace this evening, Doves on the wire in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. November 2019.

Like a bird on the wire,
Like a drunk in some old midnight choir
I have tried in my way to be free.

— Leonard Cohen – “Bird on the Wire,” 1979

What can possibly be more free than birds on a wire?

They come. They go. They gather. They fly off on a whim.

Doves gather and coo sweet nothings in each others’ ears.

But mostly they sit silently,  thinking thoughts beyond our reach and ken.

They enjoy the buzzy thrum of power surging beneath their feet.

They face forward, into the weather, keeping feathers unruffled.

Much as we wish we could go through life.

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Blackbirds watch the world whiz by from a safe perch in Porto, Portugal. October 2019.

The next best thing to birds on a wire?

Birds on a rail.

Eleven blackbirds all in a row.

What a conversation up there!

Blackbirds tell each other the most inappropriate jokes. They make fun of the tourists passing below.

They insult each other and slap each other on the back before flying off in search of a beer.

Separately.

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Illusions. Tui, Spain. October 2019.

We walk past buildings and see loose wires, draped across the front.

“An unsightly mess,” we think. Then we walk on.

Into the unsightly mess that is our lives.

The rare soul sees art, or the opportunity for art.

Even rarer is the one who commits the act of art.

Enabling the rest of us, who have passed the same wire for untold ages,

to smile, to chuckle, to enjoy the whimsy of an artistic soul/warrior.

Commit art where and when you can.

Be like Leonard Cohen.

Express yourself.

Let the rest of the world figure it out.

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Camino: Porto to Santiago, Uncategorized

Best way to return to Porto after walking for two weeks? With a bag over your head

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Overlooking some of the beach that extends west from the village of Finisterre.

Santiago de Compostela to Porto (160 km – felt like being in a sci-fi movie and life is playing out in reverse. Not recommended!)

There are so many ways to return to Porto at the end of your Camino walk. You can fly, take a train, take a bus, car pool (there’s an app for that) …

My advice is, whichever way you choose, put a bag over your head.

Sensory deprivation will be your friend.

Here’s why. Continue reading

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Camino: Porto to Santiago, Uncategorized

A giddy collision of excesses, Santiago is no haven for reflection — that’s what the Camino was about

 

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Of all the incredible, awe-inspiring art and architecture in Santiago, this sculpture spoke loudest to me. It is a powerful reflection of how our soggy feet felt at this moment. The translation is something like “Walk straight, walk upright,” as if we need that advice now.

A Coruña to Santiago de Compostela (7 km — felt wet and like it would take forever but, suddenly, it is over)

We have reached the end of our journey. We have arrived in Santiago de Compostela after walking more than 150 miles over 13 days through Portugal and Spain.

Words fail me.

No they don’t. Just kidding.  Continue reading

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Camino: Porto to Santiago, Uncategorized

Oh, oh, oh O’Porrino! Feel the petrichor!

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Have you ever seen a more beautiful Roman path?  Grape arbors on your left, stream on your right, ancient paving stones beneath your feet. And rain coming down on all. Enjoy, because I took very few pictures this day. A wet iPhone takes lousy pictures — when it works at all. 

Tui to O Porriño  (18.5 kilometers — feels like swimming 15 kilometers)

Did you ever want to reach back into the past and grab your younger self by the shirt collar and smack yourself up the side of the head for something really stupid that you said?

Yeah. Me, too.

The Me from September 21, 2019 — a few weeks back.

We were walking from Tui, just across the border in Spain, to O Porriño, about 18.5 kilometers away.

And it rained. Oh, man, it rained. All day. Continue reading

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Camino: Porto to Santiago, Uncategorized

Alpine trails, mountain streams, fresh coffee, and Portela Grande — could there be a better day?

IMG_6205Ponte de Lima to Rubiaes, (18.6 km — feels like 18.6, except on Alto de Portela Grande)

There is a different mood in the air this morning as the clank, and flap, and zip of early risers assembling their backpacks awakened everybody else in the dormitory.

It started at 4 a.m. with the two guys sleeping in the beds next to me. I understand starting early to beat the afternoon heat, but walking three hours on mountain trails in the dark of night with, probably, only a headlamp to guide you?

By 6 a.m. the predawn dorm was an undulating shadow-sea of pilgrims rising up, gathering their scattered clothing, running off to the loo, bundling up their backpacks, and strapping on their boots. Occasionally the door would open and the motion-activated light in the hall would stream in, trapping shadows in the glare, momentarily freezing all like it was some big jailbreak. Continue reading

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Camino: Porto to Santiago, Uncategorized

Feeling like hell, ending up in heaven: Casa Fernanda

IMG_6044Day 3: Barcelinhos to Lugar do Coro (22 km, feels like 22 until the last 5 km …)

According to the Camino guidebook, the next destination is supposed to be Ponte de Lima, about 22 miles from Barcelhinos.

After two grueling days, my first thought was “No way in hell.”

There were plenty of smaller towns between Barcelos and Ponte de Lima.  “Less walking, more enjoying,” was to be our new mantra. Continue reading

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Camino: Porto to Santiago, Memoirs -- fact and fiction, Uncategorized

Leaving Porto is so hard … twice

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The Atlantic Ocean stretches before us  at the mouth of the Rio Douro, as the moon begins its descent. We are about to make a sharp right and finally head north toward Santiago.

Day 1: Porto to Vila do Conde (35 km)

Twice on this journey, we have left Porto and twice a voice in my head is saying “Your work is not done here.”

I think it may be the voice of the good people who bottle 10-year-old Tawny Port. 

More likely, it is just the soul of this venerable old city’s siren song, calling me back to discover more of its hidden pleasures.  Continue reading

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