9/1 – when we arrived at the cafe at 7 this morning for our coffee, it was full of English-speaking men! Four Americans and two Canadians had arrived late last night, and, of course, they were responsible for the chorus of God Bless America that we heard in the wee hours. They are all veterans of other caminhos, and are all walking the 20+ miles to Santarem in today’s 93 degree heat.
We have opted to walk 10 miles to Morgado, and Mario, who owns the Santarem Hostel, will pick us up. We will spend the night in his hostel, then he will drop us back at this halfway point tomorrow so we can complete the segment. We want to walk every step of this Caminho, taking time to enjoy whatever there is to experience.
We were on the road as the sun came up, as we wished to avoid the heat of the day.
We got to watch as the tomatoes were harvested by a big machine that sucked up the tomato plants, separated the ripe tomatoes down a chute onto a waiting truck, ground up the rest of the plant and returned it to the field as mulch, along with any unripe fruit. Darned if we could figure out how the the machine knew the difference, but only the red fruit went onto the truck!
Mario came for us at noon, and he stopped and offered rides to the other pilgrims on the way to Santarem, but they all opted to walk in. We were grateful for the private room, and I loved the artwork displayed throughout the hostel of cows engaged in very human pursuits: