In this post…
If this is the first post you read on this series, I recommend you take a look at the introduction post published on the 28th of February 2018. That post explains what the Faith’s Way is, my reasons for doing it and provides information that might be useful to you, if you decide you want to do it too.
In this post I will cover the 3rd day of this 12 day / 600 Km journey between the town of Santa Rosa de Viterbo and the town of Casa Branca via the town of Tambaú, all in the federal state of São Paulo.
As explained in the introduction post, I broke the entire journey into 21 stages, as per the official map of the Caminho. There will be 1 video for each stage of the journey, so the blog post for this day contains two videos. One covering the journey between Santa Rosa de Viterbo and Tambaú and the other covering the journey between Tambaú and Casa Branca.
You can download the official map of the Caminho from the website of the Friends of the Caminho Association. From there you can also download a list of credentialed accommodations for your journey. Most places in that list are simple family owned pilgrims’ hostels. Some in very rural locations (farms) others in more urban areas. Some establishments are hotels. Family owned Pilgrims’ hostels along the way have usually a set value that includes the meals as well, typically dinner and breakfast, but all hotels listed there will also offer a reduced pilgrim’s rate provided you present them your pilgrim’s credentials.
- Distance traveled from Santa Rosa de Viterbo to Casa Branca: 60.19 Km
- Total duration of this journey: 6 h 15 min
- Total moving time: 4h 14m
- Overnight location at the end of the journey:
- Pilgrims’ Hostel of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Exile, +55 19 36711143
- Total expenses on this day: R$ 70.00
- Food: R$ 20.00 (dinner – delivery)
- Accommodation: R$ 50.00 (Breakfast incl)
- PS. Normally the care takers of the hostel offer dinner and breakfast together with the accommodation for R$ 70.00, but the day I was there was normal a normal day for them. Read the post below to understand why.
- Total Elevation Gain on this track: 620m
- Average Speed: 9.6 Km/h
- Max Speed achieved: 57.8 Km/h
- Average Heart Rate: 128 bpm
- Max. Heart Rate: 163 bpm
- Calories burned: 2,347 CAL
- Click here to see the Garmin Connect page for this activity
The night at the Malim Hotel was good. There was no TV in my room, but these days, who needs a TV when you have WiFi? Breakfast was good and plentiful too and I took my time enjoying it. Even spent almost 30 minutes that morning talking to the receptionist of the hotel, trying to understand if the town had any relation to the town of Viterbo in Italy, which is also along another pilgrimage route known as Via Francigena, that I completed in 2016 (it does, btw, but that was explained in the previous post).
The official map of the Caminho indicated that the distance between Santa Rosa de Viterbo and Tambaú was of 36 Km which is one of the longest stretches of the Caminho. To be honest, I wasn’t really looking forward to the same long stretches of fine sand and dust from the day before, but I decided to leave the hotel and follow the yellow arrows to see how the way was and decide later if I was going to stick on the original path or try to find an alternative route, if one was available.
So, I rode on the Caminho path for about 5.0 Km, following the yellow arrows on the dirt road. The terrain, however, was as sandy and difficult as those in the day before, and I was a tired and bored with the poor performance of the previous 2 days, so I decided to look for an alternative in Google Maps. I knew, from talking to the hotel staff in the morning, there was a paved road to Tambaú that followed in parallel to the Caminho path. At the little village of Nhumirim, 5 Km from Santa Rosa de Viterbo, instead of turning left at the yellow arrow indicating the Caminho path (see in the video), I followed on for another 2 Km to take the SP-332, a regional highway, to Tambaú. Therefore I obviously cannot show you the original caminho path from Nhumirim to Tambaú and I’ll leave it up to you to decide what to do if you find yourself in that position, but I can tell you that I do not regret having done the remaining 23 Km on the highway. I felt safe on that road due to the wide hard-shoulders and the fact that most of the drivers respected the 1.5 m distance. That route also did cut 6 Km of the distance between Santa Rosa de Viterbo and Tambaú and allowed me to cover these 23 remaining Km in 1h and 20 min, an average of 17 Km/h which was almost double the average of the day before. If you are on a bike I would recommend this route to you, but if you are walking, even though I don’t how the way is, it would be probably safer to stick to the Caminho path.
Another downside of not following the original path is that you don’t have the yellow arrows to guide you anymore, so you will have to find your own method of navigation. I decided to ride the the town hall of Tambaú as typically this is one of the places you can get information about the path and also stamp your credential, but that was not the case. As I got to the town hall the staff told me that Caminho pilgrims are usually served at the town’s tourism information office / dept which was, however, not far from that location. Tambaú is not a village, but it is not a big town either, so everything is relatively close.
After having my pilgrim’s credential stamped at the tourism information office and, as I had gotten to Tambaú much quicker than I expected (had I followed the original Caminho path), I could afford a longer rest time there. The office has a cold water fountain available for the pilgrim’s at the lower level and I had a little snack I had brought with me. Even had time to do a quick chat with my children back in the UK. I had the feeling that Tambaú would have been a nice place to spend the night, but it was too early for me, so after 30 min or so, I resumed the journey following the yellow arrows towards Casa Branca, the next destination in the path. For those willing to stay in Tambaú the Eliana Hotel is right in front of the Tourism Information Office and is a credentialed hotel with special rates for pilgrims (requires the pilgrims’ credentials).
The 30 min rest I had in Tambaú helped a lot in terms of motivation for the next stage of the path. I left with the decision that I would return to the original caminho path and follow the yellow arrows all the way to Casa Branca, regardless of how bad it was. I also don’t regret that decision, but I could, again, have saved 3.87 Km of the journey and, perhaps, prevented one of the 3 tumbles I had during the pilgrimage, had I taken the paved road between Tambaú and Casa Branca. One of my goals was to be able to show the Caminho da Fé to others as it is. I did, however, highlight that point in the video where you can take the decision of staying on the shorter paved road or taking the longer dirt tracks to Casa Branca,
As I was making my way out of Tambaú I rode by the town’s main church, the so called Sanctuary of our Lady Aparecida (not to be confused with the Basilica of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida in Aparecida do Norte) a church built by father Donizetti Tavares de Lima who was noted for his extensive work in the region and famed for his reported miracles and other wonders.
As I mentioned above, it was in this part of the journey which I took the 2nd of the 3 tumbles I had throughout my journey to Aparecida. Some of the dirt roads and tracks of the original caminho are farm tracks with a lot of fine sand and the sand banks are sometimes difficult to spot in the distance. All it takes is a moment of distraction for you to kiss the ground. In my case I was going down a little hill, picked up some speed and when the front wheel hit a sand bank it skidded to the right. Thankfully there were no injures or damage on this little accident. I also highlighted this incident in the video.
About 10 Km before Casa Branca I met 3 female pilgrims on foot who started their journey in Tambaú earlier that day. They wanted to walk all the way to Aparecida, but were considering of doing it over several different moments i.e. walking a portion of the pilgrimage, going home, then coming back a few days later to the point they stopped, walking another portion and repeating this until they got to Aparecida. This is also a valid pilgrimage option for those who don’t have the time to do it all in one go. I met one of these 3 ladies as I arrived at the pilgrims’ hostel later that evening as she wasn’t feeling well and took the rural bus to town. Her 2 friends decided to walk the rest of the caminho to Casa Branca and only arrived late that night.
Right after arriving in Casa Branca the gimbal’s batteries died, so a small portion of the video at the end was recorded with the camera mounted on the handlebar, hence the increased shakiness of the image.
As I arrived at the Catholic Church of our lady of the exile in Casa Branca, where the pilgrim’s hostel is, I was told to go talk to Mr José or Mrs Maria, his wife. They are the care takers of the pilgrims’ hostel and for a flat rate of R$ 70.00 they usually offer dinner and breakfast to the pilgrims, in addition to the accommodation. This night in particular, Mr José told me that his wife would not be able to cook dinner as their son had been kidnapped by criminals that day, who stole his motorcycle and spanked beat him causing him to be admitted into the local hospital. Mrs Maria was understandably very nervous and stressed about that all situation. Their son later appeared and despite the beating he was OK. Because of the lack of dinner Mr José charged us with only R$ 50.00 for the accommodation and breakfast the next day.
After getting settled and having a shower, Mr José show me to the laundry area and I placed all my dirty clothes in the simple washing machine available there. Soap was also provided as well as indoor hanging lines.
The 3 pilgrim ladies and I ordered food to be delivered from a supplier recommended by Mr José, which cost exactly the R$ 20.00 we would have to paid him for dinner. Food arrived quickly, was plentiful, warm and delicious. A big plastic cup of delicious freshly squeezed orange juice came with it, as per my order. Although the room I was in had 3 beds I was the only pilgrim to sleep in it that night, The other 3 pilgrim ladies shared another room and I believe we were the only pilgrims in the hostel that night. My room had a private bathroom/toilet (suite) as well as a small separate living area with a table and a TV and although reception was not excellent it allowed me to watch the evening news while I was having dinner.
The weather that night was excellent. Not very warm, but not cold either, perfect for a little walk around the church grounds and for some night pictures.
Click on any picture for full detail
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