Smiling, Sweating, and Sobbing

On Day 2 of our caminho, somewhere between Vila Nova da Rainha and Azambuja, Natalie and I both sobbed for the first time on this journey. We were splayed out in the blazing sun on a dirt track next to a bog of eternal stench. We had been walking for about 8 hours as the temperature climbed to 90 degrees. As Natalie took off one shoe to tape up a blister, she started to cry. Then, she pointed out some chafing on my inner thigh. I started bawling. Defeated but unwilling to fully roast in the sun, we lifted each other up and carried on. I may or may not have said “I hate Portugal” multiple times. Only Natalie knows what happened.

As we emerged from what could mildly be described as an overgrown thicket into a truck stop motel, we smiled. We did it together. If we looked past our sunburned calves and disgustingly sweaty faces and multiple curses laid on the innocent people of Portugal, we saw what we had really done: supported each other enough to alternate sobbing and caretaking on the side of the rode. We had truly made the most of our time together – this is a vacation, after all, and it’s also the beginning of a wonderful chapter in our lives.

Thank you all for your support. We are enjoying a glorious rest day at Casa da Alcacova in Santarem and soaking up the many lessons the caminho has to offer.

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