In a world which is becoming more and more divided and where it is suggested that we be suspicious of ‘others’ our experiences in Portugal have been the exact opposite. From the outset we have been warmly received. People go out of their way to help and direct us and many have stopped whatever they are doing as we pass to ‘chat’ in broken languages of all sorts, or to guide us to the right path, show us the entrance to the parish church.
Here is little stories that to me have been the essence of the kindness we have received everywhere along the way.
A couple of mornings ago we had had a long walk on empty stomachs and we were standing in drizzling rain evaluating our options when this elderly woman materialized out of no where. She was happy to point out the Camino route but we explained we were looking for a cafe nearby. She pointed and spoke in rapid Portugeuse and we managed to establish there was a hotel just a couple of hundred meters off the route. We thanked her and she ran off in the direction of the little street sweeper vehicle she had abandoned on the roundabout to race to our assistance.
Part II of the same story was when we dragged our hungry, weary bodies into the hotel reception and asked about breakfast the receptionist excused herself and when came she say breakfast would be ready in a couple of minutes. We assumed they were just setting a table for us but when we went through to the dining room it became apparent that breakfast had finished and they had kindly pull out all the breakfast things in order that we would eat. I have never been so grateful or so touched, most places would just apologize and say breakfast is finished. It is this going the extra mile when they aren’t asked or don’t have to that has impressed me so much about Portugeuse people.