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Not walking but still moving forward.

Spring bloom along the trail of day 1 on the Caminho do Dão 2019.

If things would have gone as planned..... Ooh, how naïve that sounds now, amid the great adaptation we are experiencing. However, it’s worth taking a moment to acknowledge that the Caminho do Dão (CdD) hiking week would have started this Sunday the 26th of April. Leading up to the hike I was getting really excited as a nice group of Portuguese, Dutch, American and French hikers was forming. The outreach and networking efforts paid off and the result was good for the first edition of this hiking program. So, the program is on hold but I feel confident that ‘we will hike again’ once we have learned to live with, or moved beyond, the pandemic. ‘Fica para próxima’ (for the next time) as the Portuguese say.

Putting the group hike on hold has given me time to work on another important part of the project, which is to make the CdD of benefit to the region. I am furthering the plan to bring an element of nature restoration into the CdD and that of walking with groups of young adults from the Dão region.

The idea behind the nature restoration element is that, as a touristic product, the CdD does not just want to benefit from the natural qualities of the Dão valley, it wants to give back to these qualities. In the press release from March you can read more about this idea. For this restoration plan the CdD is partnering with various organizations and institutions including a group of students from the Escola Superior Agrária de Viseu who will contribute to the research and promotion of the project.

I am also talking with various organizations about annual hiking weeks for young adults from the Dão region. It is my belief that the experience of a pilgrimage through your own region can strengthen the connection with the region and generate a sense of pride. While walking you enter into a communion with nature and the landscape, with people and with regional culture. A pilgrimage also has the potential to generate a sense of personal empowerment and independence in the world which is a positive formative experience.

As you can see, we might not be walking just yet but the Caminho do Dão is definitely moving forward and I will keep you posted.

Wishing you all good health and spirit and joy in the spring season.
Greetings from the Dão valley!

Freya van Dien


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