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Camino de Santiago Opens "Sister Trail" in South Brazil

11/13/2014 - 09h19

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FELIPE BÄCHTOLD
SPECIAL ENVOY TO SANTO ANTÔNIO DA PATRULHA (RS)

A little-known region of Rio Grande do Sul has been chosen as the site of a Brazilian version of the Camino de Santiago, an old pilgrims' trail through France and northern Spain that attracts thousands of people every year.

The Spanish Consulate in Brazil and the government of the Spanish region of Galícia have created a trail of 12km (7.5 miles) in the municipality of Santo Antônio da Patrulha, 73km (45.4 miles) from state capital Porto Alegre.

The idea is that the route serve as training for walkers, as well as inspiration for those who intend to travel to Europe to walk the original Camino.

Along the route there are signs which allude to the European trail, commemorating 800 years since Saint Francis of Assisi made the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

According to the Spanish Consulate, the trail in Santo Antônio da Patrulha was chosen because of its geographical similarity with the Camino de Santiago.

The municipality, which is home to 42,000 inhabitants, is close to the northern coast of Rio Grande do Sul and has hilly terrain.

Just like the original trail, walkers receive stamps on a card. In total, there are four to collect. At a brisk pace, the trail can be completed in two hours.

The participation of local residents in the project is being encouraged by the local government.

The farmer Ari Nunes da Silva has offered his house as a support station along the route. He and his wife provide water to walkers, and they are responsible for stamping walkers' cards.

The trail begins on tarmac roads in the town center, but further on the route follows a dirt road that cuts through fields and plantations.

The lack of religious sites may disappoint visitors. There is just one statue of Saint Anthony, which can only be glimpsed from a distance.

However, there are various opportunities to appreciate the scenery along the route. The best view is towards the end, where it is possible to see the Lagoa dos Barros, almost on the coastline, as well as a wind farm.

"In Europe there doesn't exist the same diversity of plants that there is here," said Marcos da Cunha, who has done the Spanish trail and was walking the Brazilian route last week.

The government of Santo Antônio da Patrulha offers a support car and guide free of charge for groups of more than 15 people.

Reservations can be made by telephone (51) 3662-8560, or online, at www.santoantoniodapatrulha.rs.gov.br

Translated by TOM GATEHOUSE

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