Near Viana do Castelo, Portugal – April 14, 2017
Today’s Miles: 11.8
Total Miles: 5,431
Esposende, Portugal – April 15, 2017
Today’s Miles: 22.4
Total Miles: 5,453.4
Labruge, Portugal – April 16, 2017
Today’s Miles: 15.1
Total Miles: 5,468.5
Porto, Portugal – April 17, 2017
Today’s Miles: 0
Total Miles: 5,468.5
Porto, Portugal – April 18, 2017
I glare at the trail marker telling me to go left then look down the road straight ahead of me. I want to go straight ahead. Every instinct tells me to go straight ahead. I turn left.
“You better not do this,” I say to the trail. “I’m trusting you.”
After two hundred yards it turns right. After another two hundred it turns right again. After the next two hundred it returns to the road I started on having marched six hundred yards through fields of nothing to go two hundred yards from where it started. I want to scream. Instead, I take a deep breath and mutter under my breath.
“We have to talk,” I say.
I find the next trail marker painted on a post. I glare at it with fire in my eyes and turn the other way.
“It’s not me, it’s you,” I say.
“But,” the trail says.
“I just need some space,” I say. “Maybe we should see other people.”
I shadowed the Camino out of Vigo. I thought it didn’t make sense so I went parallel and hugged the coast, joining the Camino for little pieces here and there like weekend reunions in a long-distance relationship. Along the Spanish shore I followed it mostly, when I could, because we happened to be going the same way, but sometimes it was hard to follow backwards. When I reached Portugal, I tried to reconcile for a day, but I decided it was pointless to walk a mile inland from the beach, so I abandoned it for the shoreline and we broke up for good. Now I run into it every once in a while when it shows up along the shore and the two of us glare at each other like exs who happen to be at the same party.
“What are you doing here?” I say.
Then the Camino wanders off, back to some convoluted route that makes no sense, back to twist and turn its way along the coast but away from the ocean, back to stagger around like a drunk person trying to walk straight. I watch it go and wonder if it will ever get its act together.
“You’re some other person’s problem now,” I say, then I turn to the coast and admire its beauty.
Sandy stretches of Atlantic beach spread between rocky points. Tidal pools and lighthouses break up the miles. Farmland and sand fill the gaps between scattered villages. Lighthouses dot the coast.
I don’t miss the Camino, not much. Not that I would admit to its face anyway. I hope it’s doing well, really. I certainly don’t think about it when the beach turns to rocks that shift under my feet for two miles. I don’t wander what it is doing over there, not so far away.
We meet up again near Porto.
“Why don’t you follow me in?” the Camino says.
“You going to behave this time?” I ask.
“Maybe,” the Camino says.
“Maybe?” I say.
“Maybe,” the Camino says again.
“Maybe I’ll stick around then,” I say. “For now.”