The Portuguese stages of the Caminho bearing the country’s name are nearing the end. Soon The Way crosses into Spain’s northwestern province, Galicia. Language, culture and even time will change. More on that when we get there. But first come a series of charming towns, starting with Barcelos, a small city with a huge reputation. The nearby city of Braga enjoys an even better reputation, but the Caminho doesn’t go there, so I’m looking forward to this small gem and the very short time I’ll have there, just a few hours. What I’m not expecting is the beauty of the landscape along the way, and, indeed, it is a long way.
If it’s not apparent by now, my favorite photo subjects are landscape and still objects. I learned to shoot people, including models, in two photo workshops that Nancy and I took in Santa Fe, but it takes time, patience and even the courage to ask. I have none of those as my true focus is walking, so the photos have to be easy and quick. That’s what you’re seeing. The most work I’ll do to improve a shot is take a few extra steps, in any direction which changes the light, the foreground or the background. It’s unnecessary to say this, but steps are what I do, 35,000 or so each day.
So my walk this day is frequently interrupted by sights that need to be recorded and shared. Words aren’t needed. Except for one. Other then beauty, I need to show you a sad truth, people see their beautiful wooded ways, distant from their homes or towns, as dumping grounds. Clearly they make the effort to load up their vehicles with old furniture and trash to dump it where they think no one might see it, but we, peregrinos and probably local hikers, walk right by them and it’s sad, plain and simple.
As evening looms and the light starts to dim, I’m still not in Barcelos and the legs and feet are feeling the length of the day. Then the road turns left and down a steep street; I’m in Barcelinhos, the separate town across the river and this is where I’m sleeping tonight – or so I think- at the bottom of this street, right before the bridge to the town I’d been hoping for all day. After a quick shower and you know what else- laundry – I put on my one set of city clothes and cross the bridge at 8pm, looking for dinner. I’ve not eaten much, but tonight I feast. It’s not as exotic as you might choose in Portugal – pulpo (octopus) is on every menu – but I’m happy with spaghetti carbonara. A late evening walk through the town center hints at its charm, but it’ll have to wait until I walk through the next morning. Tonight I’m tired.