Here I go...

Finding magic under the stars of the Camino Santiago de Compostela

Friday, November 04, 2011

8 Days on the Via de la Plata - DAY 5 - Almadén to El Real de la Jara

August 27 Thursday

Once again, we left town just as the sun began to rise. 
It was cool and the walking was lovely,
but once we got into the forest, it was very, very dark. 
I could hear sounds all around me, 
grunts in the dark, 
spooky sounds. 
What was watching me? 

I took out my camera and aimed into the blackness. 
A flash went off as I took the photo.
This is what my camera showed:
There they were, the ever-present pigs, 
foraging their acorn breakfast!  

I could see a light in a nearby farmhouse. 
The farmer must be having his coffee right now...
then I smelled it and wished I could join him. 

Instead, we continued walking in the darkness,
trying not to miss those yellow flechas!
After an hour or so, the sun rose above the trees, 
and we began, once again, to feel the heat. 

Oh, how I wished I had brought my camel-back bladder.  
We passed several herds of goat. 
They would stand up on their back legs 
to reach the tasty acorns and leaves. 
We found a goat's skull on the side of the road. 
I guess he forgot his camelback bladder too!

I just wished so hard for that camelback...


as I wished,

I looked down 

and saw something laying there 

on the dusty road.

I bent down and picked it up,

and laughed out loud!

It was a bite-valve for a camel-back
and it looked brand spanking new!
I looked up and said, "Gosh God, thanks? 
That's not exactly what I meant. 
Do you have the rest of it up there?"  

I continued walking
chuckling at God every now and then. 

The sun rose higher, and so did the temperature.
I was really kicking myself now. 
I should have brought that camel-back bladder.

Walking the VDLP in August was just plain STOOPID!
Walking it without a camel-back.. well... duh!

I kept walking, trying not to kick myself too hard... thinking again,
"I REALLY wish I had my camelback..."

...then I looked down and...
I bend down, picked it up and looked up at the sky,
"You're kidding, right?"

I stuffed the brand new tubing into my pack and kept walking. 
The heat was incredible. 
I could see "water" up ahead on the road,
but as soon as I'd get there
the water would move ahead of me again.
I remembered this mirage
teasing me as a child.
Now here it was again,

Each breath felt like it was burning my lungs.  
Each step, painful, because my feet were swollen
from the intense heat.

I could hear that old song in my head,
the one by the Sons of the Pioneers,

"Keep a movin' Dan,
don't you listen to him Dan,
he's a devil not a man
and he spreads the burnin' sand 
with water.
Dan can't you see
that big green tree 
where the waters runnin' free
and it's waiting there for me 
and you.
cool ...

 We kept trudging along...
Soon we could see El Real de la Jara..
The albergue is to the right just as you come into town. 
But it was locked. 
There was a note on the door saying 
"Go to the piscina (swimming pool) for the key."
Oh my gosh...
I was so tired and so hot,
and now more walking...

I left Joe with our backpacks and washing our clothes out back.
My Spanish was better than his, so I would do better finding the key.
I walked al lthe way to the other end of town to find the pool. 

The man with the key wasn't there, 
but would arrive in 1/2 hour. 
So I found a bar, drank an ice cold beer, and waited.  

I finally secured the key. 
It was 8 Euro each to stay here and well worth it.

Walking back, refreshed from my beer, 
I decided it wasn't so bad being the one to go for the key.

Joe was happy to see me.
We unlocked the door and went into the cool darkness.

The albergue was so danged cute!  
It reminded me of a little hobbit house. 
The doors were so short and Joe is so tall, 
he had to duck to walk through them.
The heat outside was now almost unbearable.
Rebecca of Moratiños describes the afternoon heat in extremadura as
"falling like a curtain" and that was it exactly! 

I continued to lament leaving my camelback at home. 
As I walked into the cool little house, 
and my eyes adjusted to the light...
I saw a lovely room with a big dining table.
And there,
on that cabinet top in the back, 
next to those sunflowers on the right, 
was a sign saying "Free!"

I walked back and guess what was there?  
Yup.. you guessed it... 
a brand new camelback bladder! 

And the bitevalve and tubing I'd picked up along the way 
fit it perfectly!

Another Camino Miracle!
I was soooooooooooooooooooooooo happy,
I did a happy dance!
There was a nice fireplace in case pilgrims got cold.. 
well, we didn't need THAT 
but it would be nice in the Fall or Winter.

The kitchen was small, 
with a sink and microwave, 
but no stove and no utensils.
There were 4 glasses for drinking wine.
There were three rooms for sleeping.
Each with bunkbeds.
All in all, this was a sweet little place to stay. 
We got our showers and laid down for a siesta. 

About 4 pm, Piet and Gerrard from Holland rode in on their bicycles.  
 They were the only two pilgrims we saw that night.

This is a pretty little town overlooked by an important castle, 
constructed in the 14th century to defend the lands of Seville 
from the Portuguese and others.
There had been a festival the day before in El Real, 
and there were still remnants of floats and food carts in the town.
I honestly can't recall what or where we ate here. 
I'll have to check my notes and see if I have it written down,
but I suspect I was too hot and tired to write in my journal that night.

I did, 
have my camelback water bladder 
for the next day...
and it would be full


  1. Love it! Can't wait to experience my own miracles next year! :)


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