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Thursday, October 17, 2019

Batalha to Nazaré

Last night we ate and drank like people who did not eat for a day and was taking on a journey to the end of the earth. The place we stayed in also had a restaurant. Ansie suggested we should share the meat platter. The wine accompanying the meal was never ending. We had pork rib, beef, lamb, three kinds of sausages, vegetables and chips!

This morning, well fed and rested, we left in the rain just after eight. Google maps took us through the most spectacular route we have walked up till now. For 27 km's we walked through forests, pine plantations and farms, apple orchards, vineyards and prickly pears. We sampled some of the prickly pears - sweat!

The last 6 km's was a test. Dunes upon dunes. We were exhausted when we eventually reached Nazaré.

We again reflected on the Camino; the fun we had! We talked about faith, God's faith in us. The Bible, breath of God, definitely not a rule book. God's grace and charity towards people. The depth of the Catholic faith, part of our roots. The Mystery that cannot be explained. 

It is a pity that we do not treasure the myths and legends of our faith. Faith needs reason, but faith without mystery is dead.

Thank you for traveling with us. God was a faithful Companion, as always. Now we are tourists. 

(Who is the face watching us in the tunnel?)

Wednesday, October 16, 2019


If you take the road less travelled, you will get lost, but hopefully find self. We were roughly 5 km's outside of Fatima when we lost the way maker. The way maker on this route is more or less 10x10 cm in size, stuck somewhere on a pole or tree. It is an unknown pilgrim route.

We were passing a small holding with the owner, Laubertus, feeding his sheep and horses. He started a conversation with us, just to be told by him that Nazaré is in the opposite direction. He then gave us a ride on the back of his pickup to the nearest town. From there we followed Google maps to Batalha. The route map to Nazaré I chucked.

Thought to self: In life, travel with a plan or travel in a general direction and let life surprise you?

One of the things that struck us so far on our pilgrimage is the amount of litter along the way. The cities and towns are clean, but the amount of rubbish along the roads is terrible. Are these signs of a society which is unraveling at the edges?

Batalha is a small town situated around a monastery completed in 1434.

Tomorrow we will continue to Nazaré - Deo Volente.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019


What a day of just enjoying this mystical spirituality. Where shall I start? That I came here with my protestant preconceived ideas? That I wanted to come here on my previous Camino but was talked out of it by the women in charge at Alpriate? 

Ok, let me confess: The pope is not infallible, Mary was not without sin, purgatory does not exist.

That aside, what I experienced here was something profound. There are more crosses than statues. Mary is always portrayed in miniature scale to the cross. One of the more beautiful crucifixes that I have observed, is Christ levitated just off the cross.

The mass at the Chappel of the apparition this afternoon was inspiring. The readings were from Rom 8:18-27 and Joh 14:1-8. The message from the Fr of the Phillipians was simple, we are one, we are united to the Father in Christ. Let our prayers and life be in union. Guard against a life where there is a dichotomy between your prayers and every day life with others.

Tomorrow we set off for Nazare. We must travel, as the first pilgrims, further east, to the end of the world. There we must wash ourselves in the ocean cleansed from our sins.

Qui vivis et regnas Deus in saecula.


We got up early, had bread with honey and cold milk with chocolate, left just after seven and lost our way. Fortunately, there was a cafe and we had a coffee, to be assured by the owner we are on the road to Fatima. Then it began to rain!

We later realized that the road we are on will get us to Fatima, but definitely much further than 30 km we planned according to the original route. At another cafe I asked Google maps for a walking route.

How Google maps kept on talking to me all the way up to Fatima until we picked up the way maker, I do not know (no data or working SIM). Google maps also took the shortest walking distance between the point we found ourselves at and Fatima. This turned out to be quite a route. But as our son Willem says; more fun getting lost.

Just before 17:00 and after 35 km's we reached Fatima, exhausted. 

The pilgrim's hostel where we are staying over do not allow for men and women to share the same dormitory. Ansie sleeps in a separate part of the building. No nonsense tolerated on holy ground.

Tomorrow I will reflect on Fatima and the spirituality of this beautiful place.

Tonight it is off to bed.
God has provided.

Sunday, October 13, 2019


So we arrived at Azinhaga very tired. Helena was a super host! With us was a retired Economics prof from Spain. At supper last night, I realised the narrative in SA is also the narrative in Spain; corruption, social grants together with over paid unproductive government officials, tax evasion etc is killing the economy. In Portugal however, the economy is booming.

Today we were tourists, it is a rest day. Tomorrow it is off to Fatima - 30km's. We had a picnic in the park, walked up to the Templar Castle and enjoyed this beautiful old town.

To get us in the right frame of mind, we booked into a pilgrim's hostel to pick up the "incense" of the Camino.

The railway lines reminded me that the beauty and joy of life happen where the line between spirituality and insanity gets blurred.

("See, I am doing a new thing!...")

Lots of photo's from the tourists.

Saturday, October 12, 2019


We left just after seven, missed one of the way makers and eventually, after an hour was on our way out of Santarem. This however was not as bad as one of the pilgrims who had to return to fetch her phone, just to discover it was all along in the side pocket of her trousers.

I previously wrote about people who on the Camino leave things behind which symbolises something personal. The three teddy bears hanging in the tree, made us wonder. Was it maybe a bereaved parent mourning a child? 

The spirit of the Camino was presented to us in the form of a pouch hanging from a tree. Inside was a note; "Please take what you need and leave the rest for other pilgrims", also plaster, wound dressing and three cigarettes.

The day was long, 27 km's. We are tired and our feet hurt. Tomorrow will be a rest day. The journey is not yet over. The journey inward is quite often also tiresom but that is where growth happens. It is when the silence of the Camino opens up to you that you know the Camino is accepting you and will provide in your needs.

May you have a blessed Sunday!

Friday, October 11, 2019


Last night's supper was in the traditional Camino way, nine people around the table, enjoying Paula's home cooked meal and hospitality. After the port it was time for bed.

We were up by six and after breakfast we were off. The sun was slowly rising, the morning fresh and cool. We had 16 km's ahead of us, all through farmland, vineyards, maize and tomato fields waiting for the next planting season.

It was here that we realised how much plastic is used in cultivating vegetables and tomatoes. (Look at the heaps of plastic piping in the photo above.) A very thin, soft plastic piping is used to irrigate the tomatoes. These piping gets ripped up after harvest time to be replaced again in the new planting season. Is plastic so cheap that we can sell out our environment for more profit?

Paula mentioned that she does not accept tomatoes from these farmers because of the amount of insecticides that they use.

Just before we left home, we had this discussion about the new lies people are being fed: "Stop eating meat, cows are destroying the earth. Eat vegetables and save the earth!"

We arrived at about 12:00, checked into a municipal albergue, bunk beds, but just the two of us and the set off to explore the town. We attended the last part of the Eucharist in the "Shrine of the most holy miracle". The liturgy was in English which was special; "..for the remission of our sins..."

Our bodies can feel "The Way". The first pilgrims believed this was part of penitence and inequities being forgiven and departing from us.

Deus adjuva nos!
You are welcome to leave a comment. Reminder, my first language is Afrikaans.