Day 2, we walked from Arco to Barcelos. There was, as a fellow caminhante said, mucho calor. (I have no idea if that is correct Portuguese, but the meaning was clear and accurate.) Today I have some found poems for you ((or stolen, if you like), some translated to the best of my ability.
If the world is a book
then those who do not travel
read only one page.
(Neatly written in French on a waypost.)
(In English on a gum tree – which were myriad)
Japanese Mini Tractors for Sale
(In Portuguese on the fence of a yard containing half a dozen very small tractors)
A road sign:
a plump cow in silhouette
inside a red warning triangle.
(We saw no cows.
They had been warned off.)
Rua de São Salvador
Rua Senhora de Imaculada Conceinçao
Rua da Cruz de São João.
Here you are what you are
in relationship to Catholicism
Another road sign:
Find out what’s the least you can do
(What I think the Portuguese says on a little tile in Barcelos, attributed to Ferdinand Pessoa)
And tonight everything is sore.
Thanks for the introduction to Fernando PESSOA (his family name meaning Person, apparently) – Thanks to Wikipedia – I have just scrolled down through the comprehensive bi-lingual listing of lots of his epigrammatic quotations – nice to look at the Portuguès (its similarity to Spanish) and to note that I could see – could read it – propped up as I was by the English. Like watching a movie in Spanish or French – or German – or Japanese, too – while having the hearing confirmed or maybe confounded by the sub-titles. está muito calor. And so early in the season. During my 88temples pilgrimage I had days with ice crystals sparkling up at me at 1,000 metres – through the soil of the mountain tracks – winds from snows on peaks across the valleys – and other days in which I was sunburnt – it WAS warm – (March 20-April 20 – 2009). I imagine that your caminho route is the one less taken?
Yes, Jim, a good bit of my attention here goes to the attempt to decipher signage on the basis of my school-days Latin and Italian, and smattering of Spanish. Unlike your heroic Japanese pilgrimage, ours is just for a short section – seven days worth – and is a well trodden path, though not unpleasantly crowded by any means. We are beginning to recognise people though.
And further to yesterday…As pilgrims plod the paths around the 88-temples in Shikoku – locals – working in the fields or as one passes in the towns – will come up and press a coin or a cool (or hot) drink – from a roadside vending machine – upon the pilgrim. O-settai! they say. Sometimes I was given mandarines – a lovely gesture – it brings blessings to the one who gives. I had read that it was rude to refuse to take the thing proffered – and one day endured a 30 minute delay when a strange Buddhist sect “missionary” went on and on about matters I could barely follow. It was my first day. Finally to escape I had to take the pamphlet being pressed on me. The next morning at breakfast I asked the Angel of the Way (my B&B landlady) what it all meant – what I should do with the printed material. She looked at it – The Gods (Shinto gods), the Lord Buddha, Jesus (looking at me – in my pilgrim garb) – all good! But this – she pursed her lips – rubbish! And she took it from me and placed it in her kitchen rubbish bin. Then again on that same day in nearby Imabari-shi – a woman rushed up to me and presented me with a giant orange. If you know anything about the Japanese they grow the biggest forms of fruit – strawberries, apples, nacho – and oranges. I had a backpack – but it was packed to the gunwhates – and in order to carry it I would have to unbuckle my pack, swing it off – No, I wasn’t prepared to do that. No thank you. I told her. The beaming face turned into a dangerous-looking scowl. Give it to someone else, I urged. She turned away – no longer all sweetness and light. She was burdened – I was free! >
What terrific stories,Jim. We haven’t had any experiences like that on this walk, though people are friendly.I was once walking hatless in the heat in rural Taiwan when a woman came running out f her house to offer me an umbrella, then ran away when I gratefully held out some coins to her.
I hear you about your feet. I have read Walking the Camino by Australian Tony Kevin, and although he thought he had got fit for the camino with regular long walks, he said the same. It will pass.
Cheering you on from the other side of the world, Lisa
Thanks, Lisa. I’ll add Tony Kevin’s book to my list of Caminho-related reading.
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I have a book of quotes and sayings – philosophies and thoughts for life that meant something to me back then – that I compiled in my late teens and early twenties, and that St Augustine quote is in it.
And, if Jim is reading this, he should know that a book I reviewed earlier this year, An unnecessary woman, refers to Pessoa regularly. The character particularly likes him.
There’s also Michelle Cahill’s Letter to Pessoa.
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Yes, I was going to mention that too, but I haven’t read it. Have you?
Yes. The title story and others framed as letters to writers were too high-culture for my taste (or capacity). One, I remember, mentions Derrida in the first paragraph. I didn’t understand the title story at all, though maybe I would now that I know a little about Pessoa. There are a number of wonderful stories about diasporic south-Asian experience.
Glad I didn’t rush to it then! I like short story collections in general.