When I first heard of the Caminho do Dão, ‘a nature pilgrimage’, I immediately knew I wanted to join in. I knew the Dão from the paradisiacal weeks on Moinhos do Dão, where I felt again and again how happy I was with the beautiful surroundings, the continuous presence of the river: splashing sounds, mossy stones, the smell of natural water. And swim whenever you want.
Walking along this river for a week seemed just what I needed at this point in my life. After years of hard work, I was looking forward to this week as an oasis of peace and greenery: just having to walk and look at all the beauty. My head was initially still very full and agitated. The idea of the Dao as Tao therefore appealed to me, so I faithfully took Freya’s tip to heart and picked out a saying from Lao Zhu every day, such as this: ‘Become totally empty. Quiet the restlessness of the mind. Only then will you witness everything unfolding from emptiness.’ That worked. Gradually my head became calmer and my attention was more on the beautiful surroundings.
But it wasn’t all contemplation, certainly not! What made the trip so enjoyable was, for example, the delicious food in the B&B of Agusta and Fernando (such hospitable people). Freya’s knowledge of Portugal and its nature, knowledge that she generously shares. The encounters along the way with the local residents, their wisdom and humor. The time they took for us amply. And we for them. Because we were in no hurry.
If you like a brisk walk, you might want to look further afield: we took the time to dwell on flowers, orange trees, the sound of the golden oriole. At the many beautiful views. And we took time to pause at the water’s edge, or better yet, at a waterfall. Have lunch and then into the cold water for a swim. It was already quite warm for the time of year, but the Dão was always nearby for some refreshment.
All in all it was a very rich experience, the Caminho do Dão. I recommend it to everyone.
Goodbye dear beautiful Dão, it was nice walking with you.
Hopefully see you next time!