28 April 2016
THE HARD WAY.
We have now walked some 530.99 kms to Salamanca from Sevilla! Last Sunday we never wrote to you as we were in an Albergue. The rain has been the predominant factor so far in the walking since last we wrote. Not just because when it rains in Spain it pours, but even on dry sunny days the Camino is waterlogged and the going is thereby harder than it would be. We'll not give you a blow by blow or step by step description of the way, but mention some of the more interesting parts.
When the sun shines the countryside is beautiful and one can often see for miles and miles. The birds sing and most days we have heard both the Hoopoe and the Cookoo.
In Casar de Caceres, although we did not share the same Albergue, Alan shared a meal with Young Soon, from Bremen, a woman who started at the same time as us from Sevilla.
After the meal Alan tried to help Young Soon get the GPS data onto her phone, as she uses the OsmAnd map App. Sadly he failed as neither he nor she knew enough about the Motorrola phone system to open the files he had sent her!
On the day we left Casar de Caceres it was grey and turned into the worst day of rain so far. Yet even rainy days bring their reward.
Between the showers Alan managed to take a photo of the Hoopoe. Thereafter we felt that we paid for it in spades, for it never stopped raining until we reached Canaveral some 28 kms later. We arrived like drowned rats, well Alan did, he made sure we stayed dry and only our little Pilgrim neckerchieves were a little damp when we got there.
On this day he actually walked part of the way with first one pilgrim, a Frenchwoman from Normandy called Catharina. She was quite a fast lady and overtook us as Alan was photographing the Hoopoe. When she stopped after walking two hours they shared the stop. Alan left first and now she trailed a little as the rain really settled in for the day.
When to Alan's delight he came across a roofed over picnic table, although it was not time for a stop, he did and we shared lunch there. Catharina like Alan had Babybel cheeses in her pack! They both agreed that, though it was not the best cheese in the world, was made for the trail as it was individually wrapped and kept well out of a fridge for some time.
Some of the way was along the road as we needed to cross two large rivers, the Rio Almonte and the Iberian Peninsula's longest river the Rio Tajo. They were building two new bridges for the motorway here, but it was raining so hard that Alan only managed to capture this one picture between gusts, of the new bridge over the Rio Tajo. He had discussed with Catharina, that he was going to try a short cut to get to the next possible stopping point. One could see on the map that the route went below and a kilometre past a hut on a hill and approached it from the other side. Well when we got there Catharina was well ahead and had gone round a corner so Alan could not shout to her to tell her, that now was the time to go directly up the hill.
This was the view when we got there over lake Embalse de Alcantara II.
Alan saved 15 mins on Catharina by going directly up the hill! They set off together, Alan leading and were later caught up from behind by a South Korean pilgrim called Kim! They walked in single file and no one spoke it was a question of head down and bash on.
The Albergue in Canaveral was a most welcome sight. Here Alan decided enough was enough we were not moving on until his boots were dry.
Some days before when it had rained and Alan had no newspaper he bought some toilet rolls to help dry out the boots. Now he had also collected in Casar de Caceres some newspaper as well. However, it took the day's rest here to dry out the boots. We have already mentioned how hard it is for him when his toes get cold and wet, well in Canaveral he literally poured water out of the boots on arrival.
This was the view out of the window in Canaveral. The enforced rest did us all good and we started out the next day with dry boots, which because of the nature of the ground got damp but not soaked on our now long walk to Galisteo.
This day was also one of adventure as the rains had done some sterling work at over filling the rivers. Generally though it was a good days walk made doubly tough by the overall distance in the end.
Some times the going was good and the views nice.
At others it was wet underfoot and the trick was to find the driest route.
At one stage the only dry way over was to use the dry stone wall.
The wall on the left of the picture is how we crossed this wet bit.
We later learned that some pilgrims at this point waded through, but our BBF managed to balance on the stones which lay just under the water's surface.
It gets very tiring trying to find ways over wet and boggy ground. At one point on the route near Riolobos which we were hoping to by pass, while having a break Alan and Bill (of A and B) fame came by.
A little later as we were going down a hill to cross a road we could see them ahead casting about, clearly looking for a path. When we got there we saw and they told us how the river was in flood and the road was impassable. Sadly no pictures were taken at this point. The three humans decided to find a way across the fields to follow the road which we could just see.
Alan and Bill undid the ropes tying the first bit of fence together so we could get through into the first field. Then it was tying up again after we had passed through. We now went under and over a number of other fences until we reached the road some two kilometres to the West of where we had wanted to be.
The three humans decided not to go back and follow the original route as the map showed that there were at least two more rivers to cross and we had no way of knowing if there was a bridge or not. Consequently it was decided to follow the road to Riolobos and pick up the Camino again from there.
Alan and Bill are fast Canadian walkers so they were off. We followed at a more sedate pace. In Riolobos the road had many benches along it and Alan stopped at the last one for a rest and something to drink and eat. He saw Alan and Bill go off left round the last corner as he did so.
When he now set off, he initially followed them, but realised quickly that it was the wrong way. Later he learned that they had walked two kilometres up the wrong road before turning back and then staying in Riolobos.
We went on firstly by road and then again cross country to finally reach Galisteo. The Garmin watch warned Alan of low power at the 30 km mark and he noticed it switched itself off about two kilometres before we reached our hotel in Galisteo. Later when he had charged the battery he saw that it had stopped at 33.35 km, so feels we walked at least 35. His feet and knees had really had enough that day.
Leaving Galisteo over this bridge we walked via Carcaboso to Oliva de Plasencia. Another 31 kilometres day, but a nice one which culminated in a nice private hostel where we met some new pilgrims.
These crosses are the last thing you pass in Carcaboso.
The way went cross country between two fences. At one point we found this stupid cow, who instead of letting us pass ran before us for at least two kilometres till there was room for it to get away.
Alan's washing drying in the sun. We had a nice room on the first floor and shared the hostel with a Dutch bicycle pilgrim, Agnes and an Italian couple.
The next day was again a sunny one and one in which we walked without seeing another soul all day. But it resulted in one of the highlights of the Camino the Roman site at Caparra.
This arch is the sign of the Via de la Plata.
The way now went over sodden wet fields.
Until we came to this bit!! Of note is that nearly all the lakes of water in the fields had countless frogs croaking their hearts out, and this flowing stream was no exception. Nothing for it but to take the boots and socks and knee supports off roll up the trousers and ford it.
On the other side it was dry off, kit back on and march on. Little did we know that within two hundred yards we had to do the whole thing again, though this time it was not three feet deep.
Here we managed to use the stones to get across.
The Albergue in Aldeanueva del Camino is to be recommended as it is run by a nice couple who made one feel really welcome.
In the evening one could sit around the fire and watch TV. The Hospitalero served the best Paella, Alan has had since Pat made one in Canada!
We were the first to leave the next morning and this Alan has accepted is the main reason he walks alone and sees no other pilgrims on the way. But he says he likes to watch the dawn come up and also wants to arrive early enough for his chores to be done and his body to have time to recover for the next day.
Now we had another one of those really enjoyable walking days. After two hours we reached Banos de Montemayor where we found a Cafe to have breakfast. The way out of town was up hill and it was along the longest stretch of intact Roman Road we have had the pleasure of walking on.
The route eventuall left following the main highway, and went up and down cross country to La Calzadar de Bejar.
We found a bright blue feather which Alan now wears on his hat.
In Fuenterrobel de Salvatierra we stayed in perhaps the nicest hostel yet which we had to ourselves for a very long time.
To celebrate Alan cleaned his boots! There's no helping him. You know what they say about old soldiers don't you. Old soldiers don't die they just loose their privates! That's not so he said, many of those privates are now my friends on Facebook!! We give up!!
We were blessed with sunshine again and a more or less good path all the way to San Pedro de Rozados. There was a hill to climb where there was a cross amongst the wind power farm at the top of the hill.
This view is the way back from where we have come.
Alan sang the Pilgrim's Hymn here and then it was down hill most of the way.
A Griffon, so we are told, or Gänsegeier in German.
We stayed in the hostel in San Pedro and here Alan met two South Korean brothers. Yunchae and Yunchun. They had arrived late in the day as they had walked 41 kilometres that day. There was no shower facilities in the Albergue and they were looking for the staff to find a place to shower. Alan took them up to his shower. Later they sat and chatted and exchanged experiences. But of real note is that that presented Alan with a Korean good luck charm for his kindness.
He keeps it in his purse together with the Japanese charm he was given on Hanna's Camino last year!
This is looking back the way we have come and is in fact the view Wellington must have had at the battle of Salamanca which took place in the dark green patches amongst the rape seed fields.
This is not a very imposing cross, but overlooks Salamanca and Alan sang again here, even videoing himself by propping the iPhone up on the cross!!
We arrived a day earlier than the plan was to, but we will stay till Sunday.
The boots are now with a cobbler and we hope to get them back on Friday! We have done Alan's laundry, bought a new Poncho which will go over the pack as well, to keep us all hopefully dry. He also bought a pair of long pants for hiking in, which are water repellant if not water proof. We think he is fed up of getting wet. He has also bought two new knee supports. Today we went up and down lots of steps in the Cathedral and now his right knee is painful again!
Our human has also had a short back and sides hair cut and beard trim. He says he doesn't feel like the wild man of Borneo any more now.
This being a Univercity town the students were all in fancy dress today, we don't know why but thought it could be a sort of Rag Week!?
It's a beautiful old city with much to see and some wonderful architecture and churches to see. So we will enjoy our enforced rest days here.
It does mean, of course that Alan must now make new friends, as all those he started with will be well ahead of us. Last night he sat and shared a farewell drink with Frans the Dutchman who is ending his Camino here, as he has to go back to work, and Young Soon who is walking on. However, he feels since he has walked alone this far, there is no real change to our condition and any one new is to be welcomed.