Saturday, January 12, 2013

Day 4, part 1

Azambuja to Santarem, 16.8 km*

Promising start turns into a long day.

I slept very well from 10 PM until just after midnight when an alarm shrieked us awake. By us, I mean JH and I. Gyu eon didn't stir. At first, I thought it was a fire but I didn't feel like getting up.

I woke up at six, announced good morning at seven and turned on the lights. JH and I were ready quickly but Gyu eon sure does like to take long showers. My shoulders are a little sore, JH has pain in her little toes, and Gyu eon says the balls of his feet hurt. He was walking gingerly at dinner but it looked like stiff legs to me. I think it's more of a case of 'no wifi itis'. Its been 48 hours. JH says she thinks she can't walk today. I think she can. I hope everyone is alright-- we have a long day, 32 km.

After the same ham and cheese sandwich for breakfast for the millionth day, we set off down a country road lined with huge eucalyptus trees. I jokingly tried to swing on a dangling strip of bark and was surprised that it didn't give way immediately. I barely resisted the urge to do more rigorous testing.

We turned off-road through unused farm land. We all agreed that this was nice and we would be happy to walk on it all day long. We turned a corner. Mud. Deeper and wider than any we'd seen before. Luckily, there were many thick reeds growing alongside and I was able to knock enough down and make a living bridge. This section lasted 30 minutes but morale was low.

Eventually, the mud gave way to packed sand then single lane asphalt. We heard buzzing before we saw the single engine plane taking off from a single runway airport. The plane made a dozen take offs and landings before we walked out of sight. I envied the plane at first, wishing I could just fly over the terrain and get to Santarem quickly. Then I realized that the plane wasn't going anywhere but I was going to Santiago.

Gyu eon has a bit of a cold and has a zombie shuffle. I suspect he's just suffering an allergic reaction to walking 32 km. I can't say I blame him but we'll keep an eye on him in case it's a cold.

To cheer up my companions, I played a Dwight Yoakum mp3 on my phone, "Hold My Hand" and got even Gyu eon smiling. JH played music by contemporary Korean psychedelic rock band Jang Gi Ha and the Face. She translated some lyrics "just walking and walking, no place to take a rest, with an old lover's letters in my hand, just keep walking".

I could relate to the first half, just walking. But I usually don't dwell on the past, whether I'm walking or not. My feet may be taking my body forward but my mind goes everywhere when I walk.

When JH translated the line, I started thinking about why I was walking this specific route. Actually, I was thinking about why WE were walking this particular route. It's a long story and I'll cover it in a separate post.

JH let the whole album play. I normally don't listen to music when I walk, I find it distracting and the tempo doesn't always comfortably match my pace. I trailed behind, catching snippets here and there but not actively listening.

It's funny that we are walking together but we don't see the same things. At one point, I saw some sheep grazing in the distance. I turned around to comment on it and saw that Gyu eon was staring at an interesting cloud formation and JH wax looking at the canal on the left. I turned back to the sheep.

We came back to the river but only got to see it for a short time until the 3-meter flood wall blocked the view. I climbed up and walked on top for the next couple kms, while the others stayed on the road and enjoyed a much different perspective.

We stopped at the first 'cafe' we saw (and the only one open) in Valada. We kept it simple, ham and cheese sandwiches. For the second time, we beat the lunch time rush. Soon after we started eating at the table outside with our shoes off (12 degrees Celsius), laborors practically took up all 8 chairs inside and the standing room at the counter.

It was one o'clock and we still had 16 km to go, including a 9.7 km stretch of farm roads that we were certain going to be 9.6 km of mudageddon.

We were not up to that mentally. And I don't think they had in it them physically.

We made a new plan. A brilliant plan. A plan that I will tell you about next time because its late and I must sleep.

Big tree that I tried to Tarzan from.

Ostrich farm that I can't believe I forgot to write about!

Lunch in Valada.

A different perspective.

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