A Pilgrim’s Journey; starts in Andalucia.

Looking for information on a place in Andalucia or simply asking for advice on somewhere to visit? Post here and someone out there may know the answer.
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Chrissie
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A Pilgrim's Journey

Postby Chrissie » Tue Jun 17, 2008 6:24 pm

Fascinating commentary macasas :D
I do hope you manage to keep writing - who knows you may even get some A.Commers joining you :? All those bars might prove VERY attractive to some members :wink:
The past cannot be changed, but the present can be spoilt by worrying about the future

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karandjon
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Postby karandjon » Tue Jun 17, 2008 9:11 pm

Wow!! They are like chapters of a book! Really fascinating stuff. Thank you! Please keep up the commentary. It is really interesting!
And well done, you are going great macasas!!

Karen x
vino, sol y aire, y seras rico como nadie

oliveview01
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Postby oliveview01 » Tue Jun 17, 2008 10:10 pm

I´m tired just reading it!! Well done, interesting reading. If it continues like this I´m sure it would make a good book :D

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Postby mirandamac » Wed Jun 18, 2008 9:29 am

I hope these updates continue, I'm really enjoying reading it. Hope you're managing to enjoy the walking!

Kathy
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Postby Kathy » Wed Jun 18, 2008 10:48 am

How do you obtain a passport for the Camino?

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mijasmagic
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Postby mijasmagic » Wed Jun 18, 2008 12:06 pm

Macacas this is a facinating insight and I agree with oliveview01 that there´s the makings of a book here.
For us on this forum though, it´s even better reading your account as you go along. Everything is fresh and raw, a bit like your toes!!

Good luck until we hear from you again.

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Chrissie
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Postby Chrissie » Wed Jun 18, 2008 4:12 pm

mijasmagic wrote: Everything is fresh and raw, a bit like your toes!!


Probably raw but none too fresh I imagine :lol:
The past cannot be changed, but the present can be spoilt by worrying about the future

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Postby dido72 » Wed Jun 18, 2008 10:21 pm

Lovin' it keep us posted!! 8)

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Postby turnmac » Thu Jun 19, 2008 2:06 pm

:lol:
when the going get tough it would seem macasa gets going, fasinating read, hope the toes hold out, and the bed bugs don't bite. looking forward to the next update, all the best from all in england

macasas
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Wheelchair photo is disabled....

Postby macasas » Sat Jun 21, 2008 5:28 pm

Its typical that during the process of taking the mickey out of something else, you do something wrong, in my case the image didn't load up so I am going to try again...

Image

...so you can see just what made me smile so much! Unfortunately you cannot see the tree, honestly its just out the top of the picture.
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macasas
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Campo Kenny

Postby Campo Kenny » Sat Jun 21, 2008 5:31 pm

I've always said they should have seperate lanes for space hoppers in the UK too :shock:

macasas
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Back again, and still going....

Postby macasas » Sat Jun 21, 2008 5:41 pm

Nice to see you all again, and good to receive all your messages.

Chrissie: Not sure what an A.Commer is, (am I being stupid?) but if they buy beer they are more than welcome.

Kathy: You can get a passport from the Amigos del camino de Santiago in Calle San Jicinto 25 Portal 6, Local 4. Go past the Plaza del Torros, turn left over the bridge and walk for about 100 meters, they are up an alley but have a scallop sign at the road. They are only open Mon-Thu from 10:00-14:00 and 18:00-21:00 tel 696600602 or if they are closed, like me go to the Cathedral, east side and ask the man on the gate, he will show you into a small room where a couple of old men will fill in the forms. There was no charge, would not even accept a donation. Take your passport as they will need to write down your ID.

This is officially the Credencial del Peregrino, and you will need to show it to gain access to any of the albergues and get the cheap price. It is also what you get stamped to show you progress.
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macasas

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macasas
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Day 5 El Real de la Jara – Monesterio

Postby macasas » Sat Jun 21, 2008 5:54 pm

What a difference a day makes, especially when you can get a good nights sleep in between. The albergue at El Real de la Jara is right out of the way and even the dogs who were busy during the siesta calmed down over night. There was only one other couple staying the night going south on bicycles but we had separate rooms so I locked my door, boots were safe, and hit the sack, job done!

As soon as I had left the town I noticed a change in my surroundings. For a start it was flatter, not totally but after crossing the Sierra Morena it didn’t have to be completely flat for my legs to notice the difference. There are no signs to tell you exactly when, no Bienvenidos a Extramadura, but within half a hour Andalucía was behind me.

Breakfast is becoming a fantastic time of day. I am now walking for about an hour and then looking out for somewhere to stop. All I need is shade and somewhere to sit. Today’s menu included yoghurt and oranges, with a dash of complete silence and the breeze in my face; it’s better than I could imagine!

A few hours later my stopping technique let me down as I chose a perfectly shaped tree with ideal shade, problem was it was already occupied. It was well rehearsed, they waited until the bag was open, the food was out and I had just gotten comfortable before they appeared in their hundreds, ants the size of a penny, so big you could probably eat them, but they didn’t go for the food they went for me. One of them got under my shirt and bit my back. I will be much more careful from now on!

Despite the lack of steep hills there are still plenty of gradients on the way to Monesterio. Combined with the heat today felt almost as hard as some of the previous days and in typical fashion the camino kept a special hill until the end. This has been a consistent frustration since the start, every daily destination just behind the next big hill. Of course today I finally realised that as I am constantly walking north these towns have grown up in the shade of the same hills I have to climb, so my frustration has turned to understanding and a longing to be where my next bed awaits me.

After strugling up the hill just before Monesterio in sweltering heat I crawled into the Hotel Moya which is next to the Cruz Roja albergue, which is closed for refurbishment. The Hotel Moya is 22 euros, 20 after my peregrino discount, the room is basic but it is quiet, with all the potential of another good nights sleep, here’s hoping!

My siesta was broken with some good news from home. A good friend of mine has found love in a big way in a very short space of time, they met perhaps 2 months ago while she was in Australia and they are now engaged with the wedding set for April 2009 and she’s is packing up the house. Congratulations to them! I fell back to sleep with a smile on my face, good for her, when your dreams are staring you in the face why deny them, why convince yourself through fear that it isn’t the right thing to do, who says it can’t be done? I will think of her when I need a boost of inspiration.
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macasas

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macasas
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UPDATE

Postby macasas » Sat Jun 21, 2008 5:59 pm

Since signing off I have found a 3D map on the wall in the hotel’s reception. For a while I was confused as it showed Monesterio to be higher than El Real de la Jara and with a distinct lack of hills allday I am amazed to learn it is nearly 300 meters difference; I knew that last hill was steep and the map showed just that, que colina!

Also, the question has been asked about the quality of the albergues. I have dug into my archive, (8 so far) and found this photo of the albergue in Castilblanco. So far they have been very clean, with just about what you need. When they are busier I can imagine they would be a great place to meet follow peregrinos but once they all took their boots off and started snoring and farting you’d want to move out to the local hotel!

Image
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macasas
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Day 6 Monesterio – Fuente de canto – Calzadilla

Postby macasas » Sat Jun 21, 2008 6:12 pm

I am sitting in a park, in the shadow of trees and in the middle of a bird song chorus that is so constant it fades in and out of my awareness. I am watching a group of old men sitting on the park bench 50 meters away. I cannot hear what they are saying but the gestures and movements are very pronounced. The thin guy in the blue shirt and sunglasses seems to be the leader of the gang, or perhaps he just has a lot to say. I wonder what they are talking about. Are they discussing current events, what’s happening locally, perhaps they are considering the performance of their national team last night in their narrow victory over Greece, or perhaps they cursing all the new changes around here, the new road and the new buildings and longing for days gone by when everything was just great! They have stopped for a minute to look at me, just another peregrino passing through, I am not the first and I certainly won’t be the last and they soon get bored looking in my direction. None of them seem to know where to look, there isn’t anything going on really, a passing car, a toot of a horn. It looks like they are waiting for someone else to arrive; I wander if anyone else is actually coming or whether this is how they spend their time.

The morning started out well. I left the hotel at 5:30 and hit the road, 50 yards later I passed a cash machine and decided that as funds were running low this would be a good time; you never know when you will see the next bank. The rucksack went back on and 50 yards down the road the 2nd elasticated strap decided it too would break and suddenly my roll map was bouncing all over the place. A quick temporary/permanent repair and we were off again, not too bad, it was still only 6 o’clock. We were soon heading off the main road down a dark track but it didn’t take long to get used to the light of the moon, it was nearly full so progress was still being made. I passed 2 junctions where the left turn was clearly a farm entrance, but the third wasn’t so clear. It was further confused by the additional Extramedera yellow and grey markings of another camino, I had been warned about them but this was the first time they were adding to the confusion. The most likely choice was to continue straight ahead but as the light grew and the time past since I had last seen a yellow arrow I started to realise that I had taken the wrong track. Note to self: next time this happens note the time so you can make a decision as to whether to go back or not later on, when you realise! For now I decided to keep going.

In the semi-light of the morning I rounded a bend and was confronted by a herd of Spanish cows, some sleeping, some standing and some nervous. In the first bunch they slowly moved out the way and my passage was clear. I shortly reached a second bunch and this time one of them decided I didn’t fit in, she jumped up, ran around a bit making all the others nervous, including me, and then jumped a 6 foot stone wall, knocking half of it down in the process. When it stopped the other side it looked at me as if to say, “bet you can’t get me now”, and she was right, with this rucksack on my back I wasn’t jumping over anything, sorry!

Even though I now knew I was on the wrong camino I could still hear the main road somewhere over on my right, and the compass showed I was sort of heading north which were both good signs. The worst thing that could happen was that this camino would come to a dead end before I could get back onto the main road and continue to Fuente de Canto. So it did! But I wasn’t the first to pass this way because the barbed wire fence blocking my path had a large hole in it, big enough for a fat man, or someone wearing a rucksack. With the main road only 5 minutes away I decided that a walk in completely the wrong direction in search of the right camino which might not be found was not a good idea, best to get to Fuente de Canto and link up with it there.

I reached Fuente de Canto in time for lunch in the park with the old folks, see above, but the clock was ticking because I wanted to get to Cazadilla before the sun got too hot, and it was already too hot. Up until now the way out of each pueblo had been decorated with yellow arrows showing the way, but there were none to be found. If this had been a day trip I might have spent more time searching all the other possibilities but this wasn’t. It was now 38 in the shade, if you could find any, and I had just read in my guide that there was no shade from here until Zafra. I had to get going or stay here the night, so once again I hit the road. The guide was right, there was no shade, perhaps that’s why the old men spent the day in the shade of the trees in the park!

Cazadilla is a tiny place, hence the –dilla in the name. The roadside hostel was falling apart, the sockets were hanging out of the wall, the light bulb filaments were waving at me with the potential to zap and make my hair grow, if I had any. The bed was so soft I hit the floor, but I had air conditioning and ear plugs, and I’m becoming an expert at the Spanish siesta. Adios!

Well I thought it was Adios, but apparently the place closed for the afternoon, except someone forgot to tell all the passing lorry drivers who one after the other rolled onto the gravel forecourt, left their engines running, came and spoke to someone sitting outside the main door, which was also just under my window, banged on the door just to make sure and then left. This happened all afternoon. Perhaps if whoever was sitting under my window had replaced himself with a CLOSED sign some of us, especially me, would have got some sleep. The same thing happened in the morning, they were queuing up to get in this place at 5:30 and it didn’t open until 6:30. I should know the barman had told me I couldn’t leave until then because they were locked. You would think with all this custom they could have afforded to do the place up a bit. This time it was Guardia Civil Trafico on motorbikes having a coffee and discussing how many speeding cars they should ignore today, they’d never get a job in the UK!
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macasas
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Day 7 Calzadilla de los Barros – Los Santos de Maimona

Postby macasas » Sat Jun 21, 2008 6:30 pm

I was not deterred but my enforced late start leaving Hostal Rodríguez and was soon at full pace heading towards Zafra. Even though Calzadilla was full of signs announcing it to be on the Via de la Plata I still hadn’t found any yellow arrows and so had resorted to the road once again. I had my usual breakfast stop staring at the sunrise and was soon off again, I had 35km and Villafranca in my sights, certainly possible on these flat plains. That would give me a half day to Mérida and the afternoon to visit some of the local sights I had been told about.

Not all plans are foolproof, especially when there is a fool at the helm. As I arrived at a crossroad junction I realised that I was on completely the wrong road, there had been only 1 leaving Calzadilla, the one I took, and it was going to Los Santos de Maimona, not to Zafra. This is not the first time I have looked at a map, seen 2 roads split at a junction but then never reached the junction in real life, I was sure I wasn’t going made and Los Santos was still on the route, just a little bit past Zafra so the fool plodded on, and as with life hoped that one day he would find the right road.

As with life, things don’t always go as you had hoped. Sometimes you are forced into a plan B in the hope that plan A can continue some time soon. I noticed my right shoulder getting very painful. I shifted the bag about in an attempt to ease the pain and it seemed to do the job. About half an hour later my right ankle sent a shot of pain up my leg that I can still feel. Without realising it I think that by shifting the weight I may have shifted my balance and the weight distribution on my feet. The shoulder pain was a distant memory, now I had real problems with every step I took, and I instantly started considering my options.

I decided to send a text to Vicky and get her professional opinion and recommended course of action. I knew about RICE but at that time R, I AND E were not really options; I still had 5km to Los Santos and it was looking more and more likely that I would have to stop there and rest. Villafranca was a distant 19km away, and in these conditions very unrealistic. When Vicky’s diagnosis came in the decision was confirmed, but I now had a plan of recovery, or at least of maintenance to work on for the rest of the day. Mérida would have to wait!

The Via de la Plata goes through western part of Los Santos, so they conveniently put the Albergue at the far east, up a steep hill. Nice! To be fair the view is amazing, but the conditions inside are the worst so far. This is bed bug land if ever I saw it and it appears that I am on the menu del dia. There are three locked sections, 2 dormitories and 1 kitchen dining area. All the beds are comprised of old mattresses and older pillows. This is the first time I haven’t wanted to sleep in the beds and have piled some blankets on the floor and laid my roll mat on them; my bed bug spray is loaded and at the ready! In the morning I have to walk all the way back to the church to hand in the key, I am the only one staying here tonight, but at least tomorrow I will be back on the camino, hopefully!

Before hitting the sack I massaged, did some gentle stretching and applied Ibuleve gel. My siesta however did my ankle no good at all. I have woken with a swollen red puffy lump of stiffness, (that’s my ankle you smutty lot, I’m on a pilgrimage!) and I am not sure a 33km walk in the morning is a good idea. I am going to walk into town this evening to try and loosen it up a little.

The first shop I went into had a woman customer talking to the cashier. She was still there when I arrived with my goods so I put them down and went off to have another look. Suddenly I have 3 women stood in front of my accusing me of stealing something and putting it in my bag. At first I am slightly stunned, I happily open my bag to show them there is nothing inside. One of them shoves a tin of fish in my face and tells me I picked one up, it must be in my bag. I take them to the front of the shop, where the customer is still waiting to finish her conversation. I show them my goods, and tell them I was waiting for her to finish talking. All the evidence is right in front of them, all my goods present and correct, and an empty bag but they cannot accept it, their heads are still shaking, they cannot be wrong. The customer agrees, I must have something, I open my bag once again and ask everybody if they are happy, none of them are, but I leave anyway, sometimes there is no pleasing a woman, especially 4 Spanish ones.

I have spent some time this evening in the shade working out my planned schedule. This is not a race, but I just wanted to see where I was. I am one day behind. I know I have 5 days grace, rest days, sight-seeing days, whatever I want to use them for and I am seriously considering using my first joker on a rest day. I have to sort this pain out or the whole show might come to a stop, and we can’t have that can we!! I will reserve judgement until the morning.
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macasas

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macasas
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Day 8 Los Santos de Mainmona – Almendralejo

Postby macasas » Sat Jun 21, 2008 7:13 pm

First of all I’d like to thank Vicky for the tips and tricks she texted me to help sort out my shin splints. Without volunteering she has sort of become my support team and with the help of some self-massage I am back on the camino. Note to self: Buy some nice Rioja to take home as a thank-you, but not yet, it’s too heavy.

On leaving Los Santos de Mainmona I was required to take the key back to the town hall, right opposite is the church. When you get here, make sure you spot the stork’s nest in the belfry, that’s something you don’t see everyday before breakfast!

With just a medium background humming from my legs the morning past really quickly, as did the constantly changing scenery and I soon found my walking into Villa Franco. I parked myself right in front of the church, had my lunch and started a massage session that would get me to my destination. At this point I was only halfway and had a full afternoon ahead of me. I felt my shins were feeling good enough and Mérida was back on. Wrong!

Halfway to Almendralejo the afternoon sun got really hot, and there really is no shade at all. Km after Km I kept the pace going to get out of the sun a quickly as possible and then felt the familiar feelings of pain coming back to my right leg, not what I needed right now. I slowed down to relieve the pain but the left leg was obviously feeling left out, so it too joined in. With about 7 or 8 km to go both legs decided that background humming wasn’t enough, and they began to sing a duet that was definitely out of tune. To make matters worse my shoulder tried to join in, not understanding that a duet means just two, it formed a ball of deep muscle pain and decided now was a good time for some attention, sorry mate, you’ll have to wait your turn!

5km doesn’t sound like much, in fact in a car it isn’t any time at all and in old money it’s just a little over 3 miles. How long would it take you to walk 3 miles?

In this heat I have been averaging 5km/h so I still had 1 hours walk. The problem was at this point my feet felt like they had been chopped off and tied back to my legs with barbed wire. They were extremely heavy and felt like they were swinging backwards and forwards. I wanted to stop! But if I stopped I would just get very hot, I needed some shade, a tree, a bridge, anything would do, and I needed some time to rest, apply some more gel and perhaps do some more massage! Time was not an issue, pain was!

Just because you want something doesn’t mean you get it and as I walked into Almendralejo I still hadn’t found a suitable place to stop. With only 1km to the center of town I finally dropped my rucksack in a building site, with an old wooden palette as the most comfortable seat around. It turned out to be a choice bed, not up there with Silent Night but just what I needed. At this point I realised I had run out of water, even after a refill in Villa Franco. To give you some idea of heat versus perspiration versus fluids, today I have drunk 7 litres, and it is still only 4 o’clock. With priorities changed again I limped on to find a suitable hotel and hopefully a shop. Spain, Saturday, 4 o’clock and its as dead as a cemetery, but at times like this a petrol station is always a good option, they have saved me a few times in the past week and did so again.

So here I am in hotel room, with 2 buggered legs and a shoulder that needs a golf ball extraction. I think my rest day will be tomorrow right here in Almendralejo and Mérida sightseeing will have to be missed because they are closed on Mondays. This is not a difficult decision, I have to go shopping right now, and I’m sure the walk will tell me everything I need to know!
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Chrissie
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Re: Back again, and still going....

Postby Chrissie » Sat Jun 21, 2008 11:22 pm

macasas wrote:Chrissie: Not sure what an A.Commer is, (am I being stupid?) but if they buy beer they are more than welcome..


A.Commers are members of this Andalucia.com forum. Some of them would buy you a beer I'm sure, but others are real tight wads :lol:
The past cannot be changed, but the present can be spoilt by worrying about the future

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Postby BENIDORM » Sun Jun 22, 2008 8:29 am

Well...'Macca',
Having done several 'long walks' myself, I sympathise with you , suffering sore feet and aching limbs, but I'm sure that you will look back on your journey as a great personal achievement...

Good Luck and God speed.....

Regards...Gordon...

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Chrissie
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A Pilgrim's Journey

Postby Chrissie » Sun Jun 22, 2008 9:48 am

Macasas I am enjoying your postings enormously - and feeling some of your pain too :(
Vaya con Dios
The past cannot be changed, but the present can be spoilt by worrying about the future


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