Today’s Miles: 20.5
Total Miles: 5,888.4
Near Zambujeira do Mar, Portugal – May 5, 2017
“Can you wait? Stop for a moment. Just stop.”
I look over and see a man running across a parking lot toward Daya and me. There’s a grocery store a hundred feet away and we’re excited about ice cream. I’m a few steps ahead of her as I usually am when ice cream is involved.
“Just stop,” he says. “Can’t you see that she is talking?’
I blink at him. Daya blinks too. We’d been discussing ice cream flavors and debating which we hoped to find. The man remains serious.
“She’s struggling to keep up with you,” the man said. “You shouldn’t walk and talk at the same time.”
I try not to laugh. Struggling to keep up with me? Over the last thousand miles? I expect him to crack a smile that never comes. He continues urgently pleading.
“You need to stop walking if you want to talk,” the man says. “Doing both puts too much stress on the body.”
I glance over at Daya. Too much stress. All this talking and walking at the same time. If only I knew this secret maybe my feet would not hurt, my muscles would not be tired, and the rocks would feel like trampolines. Or maybe 5,800 miles take a toll.
“I see it all the time,” the man says. “Just yesterday a woman left her mother on one side of the street because she wouldn’t slow down. You need to slow down so she can keep up.”
I shake my head. Slow down so she can keep up. Like she is just following along behind me, pulled like a little dog on a leash.
I smirk. Daya walked over a thousand miles to reach this parking lot and needed my help for exactly zero of them. This man couldn’t walk ten miles to the next village if you spotted him the first nine.
I think of one of my friends from the Appalachian Trail. A woman named Dragon Slayer. That wasn’t her real name, but she earned her trailname walking past men who thought a skinny girl couldn’t possibly be faster than them climbing up a mountain.
They were wrong, so very wrong.
“Actually we walk fine together,” Daya says. “Sometimes we talk, sometimes not, sometimes we walk far apart. It works for us.”
The man scuttles off, mumbling something. We watch him go then walk to the store to search for ice cream. We talk the whole way. We are not too stressed. It works for us.