The oldest city in Portugal, Ponte de Lima, is named after the medieval bridge that crosses the Lima River. I swear any time a city has a river that flows through the city center you know it’s going to be a special place and Ponte de Lima did not disappoint. What is it about a river anyway? As it turned out, the city proved to be a welcome respite while walking the Camino Portuguese.
Lost in Thought
One of the best perks about taking on a long distance trek such as the Camino Portuguese, is the abundance of time in which one has the freedom to get completely lost in thought. Left, right, left, right, the steps move one forward while listening to the symphony of surrounding nature.
Thoughts can run the gamut from how much longer until we stop, or take a break, or did I remember to stop the mail before we left home. Deeper and more profound thinking lends itself to a good long walk as well. For many pilgrims the pilgrimage is spiritual, a strengthening of faith. We’ve never actually come up with a bona fide reason as to why we walked the Camino Francis or why four years later we chose to walk the Camino Portuguese.
The best answer I can come up with as to why we walk, is simply because we can. And, there is no time like the present. One of my favorite social media hashtags is #lifeisshortgonow.
Time You Control
Which leads me to a quote I came upon just a few days ago. And, while it lends itself to retirement, I think it applies to life in general and it certainly explains how we choose to live our lives in this chapter called retirement.
- “Retirement should not be a timeline where youth is 0-20, working years equal 20-65 and retirement is 65 plus. Instead it should be a pie chart divided between time you control and time you don’t. Retirement is using whatever time you control now (whether that’s 10%, 50% or 90%) to live the life that you want to live.” Joe Hearn – Intentional Retirement
It’s a reasonable concept. Live the life you want to live. I am thinking this may prove to be my new favorite social media hashtag. #livethelifeyouwantotlive. What do you think?
Balugaes to Ponte de Lima
With all of that being said, our day walking from Balugaes to Ponte de Lima was a day that definitely lent itself to random threads of conversation and silent contemplation as we walked the 11.5 miles. While we paused for a few moments here and there to rest our feet or take in a view, we primarily focused on keeping the pace and making our destination before early afternoon in order to beat the intense late afternoon heat. And, somehow, Ponte de Lima was the perfect finish for the day.
Notable Sites of Ponte de Lima
As pilgrims we entered the city walking alongside the river on a picturesque tree-lined pedestrian promenade. The Lima River flows quietly under a medieval bridge built by the Romans in the first century. Think about that for just a moment. The Romans, in Portugal, built a bridge in the first century. That’s some serious history.
Probably the most notable site in Ponte de Lima is the larger-than-life Roman General who sits astride his great stallion on one side of the river while his troop of soldiers stand, at the ready, on the other side. The tale of the general and his troops goes a little like this.
Once upon a time (because all good tales begin with once upon a time) when the Romans ruled Portugal, the Lima River was thought to be an underworld river belonging to Hades. It was also thought that if one were to immerse oneself in to the water, one would completely lose one’s mind.
In 138 BC, General Decimus Junius Brutus was leading a march toward northern Spain and he needed his troops to cross the river. In order to dissuade his troops from believing the superstition, the general rode his horse to the other side of the river and then commanded his troops to follow. As each soldier crossed the river he called out the soldiers name in order to prove he had not lost his mind. The End. Pretty great, right?!
It’s the Camino
We spent the afternoon wondering aimlessly through the city center and I’m pretty sure gelato was involved. That evening we had the great pleasure of sitting down with Jose of Portugal Green Walks. We chatted and laughed over a couple of beers and a plate of cheese and turkey chorizo. Yes. Turkey chorizo. It’s a thing and it’s good.
As timing would have it, on our way back to our hotel who did we run in to… our Irish bloke, Brian. He walked in to Ponte de Lima that afternoon as well. We embraced in a way in which old friends embrace because after all, it’s the Camino.
We said good-bye to Brian and Jose that evening and sadly, I was so caught up in the fun, I forgot to capture the moment. Brian chose to spend a second night in Ponte de Lima and we walked on. The next morning as we walked away from the city, we were gifted with this incredible reflection.