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.
Kathy
Andalucia.com Amigo
Posts: 200
Joined: Mon Dec 13, 2004 4:40 pm
Location: Andalucia

Postby Kathy » Sun Jun 22, 2008 11:47 am

Enjoy the rest, sounds like you earned it! :D

StoneyM
Newbie
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Jun 19, 2008 9:14 pm
Location: U.K.

Postby StoneyM » Sun Jun 22, 2008 1:29 pm

Macasas
Well done so far.
I'm exhausted just reading your forum.
Where are all the other pilgrims?
. . . . . . . .
Oh my feet , in this heat , :shock:
A bowl of ice , would be nice ,
Every road - long and dry ,
Time to think and wonder - 'why?'
Sky so blue , air so hot ,
Space to think , and wonder - 'what?'
Muscles struggle through each day , :(
Cramp and blisters make me pray ,
Many times I want to quit ,
Find some shade, and just ... sit,
But I'm still a determined fella,
To get to Santiago de Compostella. :D

macasas
Andalucia.com Amigo
Posts: 67
Joined: Thu Jun 12, 2008 3:46 pm
Location: Somewhere on the Via de Plata

Poetry for the soul

Postby macasas » Sun Jun 22, 2008 2:40 pm

Wow, a real classic that captures the moment perfectly! and StoneyM is an apt name that describes the camino surface very accurately.

Thanks again for all your encouragement, I will be back as soon as I am allowed.
-----------
macasas
-----------

macasas
Andalucia.com Amigo
Posts: 67
Joined: Thu Jun 12, 2008 3:46 pm
Location: Somewhere on the Via de Plata

Postby macasas » Thu Jun 26, 2008 8:31 am

My day now typically starts at 5:00 to 5:30 when I wake up without an alarm, unless I am already awake from the noise outside. As soon as I am up I start my stretches in preparation of the days walk. In between stretches I try and drink a litre of fruit juice and water combined, because I know I will need it later. I don’t eat anything solid, I finish packing the rucksack and am usually out and on the road by 6:00.

During the first few hours I only drink water. At around 8:00 I am on the lookout for a good place to stop and have breakfast. Typically this is fruit purchased and chopped the night before mixed with a yoghurt.

Image

I then walk for a further 2 hours and around 10 I am once again on the lookout for a good place to sit down and enjoy a salad, some bread and something a bit more savoury.

That’s the food done and hopefully there was a bin somewhere or else I am still carrying the packages, obviously minimised but everything counts at this stage of the day. Hopefully there is still enough water to reach my destination, at which point I order dos tinto veranos con limon, y dos copas grandes de agua and I always get a look as if to say, “where is the other person”. This is my time to relax and I have always found a nice bar / patio area so far. After a couple of hours in the midday heat I am ready to find a bed for the night, visit the oficina de tourismo get my passport stamped and have a siesta. This has to be timed though, because so far they have been closed anywhere between 1:30 and 4:00.

For a country with so much drought, and apparently a constant water shortage (I remember the Valenciana v Catalan “if you don’t let us have water we won’t buy your Cava” war a few years ago) you would think that more hotels would supply a plug for the sink. Because they don’t you are forced stuff something down the plug or just leave the tap running, either way there is typically water everywhere. My attempt to save water, brought about by a desire to save time and to get as much siesta time as possible, is to get in the shower with my clothes on. Each item is washed in turn, removed, rinsed and then thrown into the sink ready to be hung up after I have finished. It all needs to be out drying before you hit the sack and hopefully your room has a window with the sun shining on it; coat hangers, elasticated straps and balconies all play their part in making sure your clothes are ready for the next days walk.

The old saying “old dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun” would imply that midday is the hottest time of the day. It should say “old dogs and Englishmen go out between 3 and 7” but then that probably doesn’t rhyme, or perhaps it’s talking about another time of year. But this is the hottest part of the day, the best time to get your clothes dried and to be either tucked up in bed or slotted away in a bar somewhere with a cool tinto verano. What you don’t want to be doing is walking.

About 7 in the evening the shops normally open for their evenings trade. This is when I buy my meals for the next day. Fruit, veg, salad and tinned fish, chopped (yes I brought a chopping board and knife) into Tupperware and packed ready for the next day.

If it all sounds too organised then think again. Everything is based on essentials, I have to shop everyday for fresh food and because I cannot carry more than a days food in weight. Hasta luego!
-----------

macasas

-----------

macasas
Andalucia.com Amigo
Posts: 67
Joined: Thu Jun 12, 2008 3:46 pm
Location: Somewhere on the Via de Plata

Sunday, a day of rest!

Postby macasas » Thu Jun 26, 2008 8:40 am

As I lay in bed this morning listening to my aching feet telling me what they had been put through I feel happy that I have made the right decision. Today is going to be a recovery day; rest, relax, massage and perhaps a little light paseo-ing to keep an eye on the locals.

I opened the curtains and the roller blind to another beautiful day. The sky was completely blue and the road outside my hotel balcony was totally quiet; very unusual! As I looked up the street I could see the countryside in the distance and I knew that today would be spent inside my hotel room. I had already missed breakfast, not the meal itself but the occasion, the sunrise, my new start to each day.

It may be a day of rest but I still had priorities; number 1 was my feet, number 2 my shoulder and number 3 was to load up with some carbohydrates to get some energy for the coming week. I was surrounded by a feast of choices, thanks to a late trip to Mercadona last night just before closing time. Well today is Sunday, and nothing is open so I had to get food for today and for tomorrow.

Breakfast is a boring affair of turkey sandwiches with a little cheese. I don’t want it to be nice, I want it to be bland like my hotel room. Four straight square walls with no colour and no personality. The portable TV has your typical 30 channels of fuzz, and even the painting of two boys hanging from the wall is non-descript. The room is listening to my uninspired thoughts and disagrees as the bed collapses and I end up trapped against the wall, turkey sandwiches everywhere!

The leg has come loose, how does that happen overnight? It’s the bed I slept on, it’s the bed I want to sit on today because it’s next to the balcony and the open door. At the time I was sat perfectly still, not like the Spaniard next door who arrived late last night and proceeded to wake everyone with his 3 minutes of love making, the bed banging the wall to his less than rhythmic efforts. I imagine he was a little drunk, and she was a little unimpressed and pleased to get to sleep, as were the rest of us. I make a temporary repair to the bed leg and get back to my breakfast. It might not be fruit yoghurt and sunrise, but I have priorities, eating is one of them.

At the start of a new week I feel like a change of wardrobe. I don’t have much to go on because carrying clothes is not something that happens when weight is an issue, so I have decided to cut the legs of my shorts shorter by 2 inches. I can hear the whistles now as my sun tan creeps, like me, in a northerly direction. Steady!

Resting has not been good for the mind; it has caused a great deal of thinking and reflection, something I have been trying to avoid. It’s not that I am running away from my past, I now accept it for what it is, the good, the bad and the inbetween; it has made me who I am today. No, I have been trying to avoid the repetition of the same old thoughts, the endless churning of a busy but unproductive mind. It’s just chatter, like 2 old women talking outside the post office, or 2 old men gossiping over the garden fence. It’s the same old thing over and over, nothing new to report but let’s just go over all that old stuff again shall we ……

I don’t know exactly when this all started. I don’t think I have always been like this, I didn’t used to have to analyse things and consider why, what, who and how. I used to just get on with stuff, to laugh out loud and cry in silence, to go out on a Saturday night without worrying about how much I spent and what I had to eat, to have a drink with friends when I felt like it, to go for walks, to the beach, to have family and friends over for dinner and drinks, a good time, a relaxing time full of smiles and laughter and most of all love. We had been together for 6 years, we had spent 3 years living in each others pockets in Spain and I felt that after years of searching I had finally met the one. Just after we returned from Spain we walked down the aisle, and I was the happiest man alive.

And then she dropped the bomb! Life would never be the same again. It wasn’t what she wanted and she needed to move on to a different life, to follow her dreams. A sequence of tragic personal experiences had led her to this moment, it was a big decision bravely made in the face of all that was good in our lives, but all that was good was not enough. The tragic circumstances involved people dying, people too close and too young to be dying, the sort of dying that makes you think a lot about your own life. She was my soul-mate, my best friend, my confidante, my partner and my lover. Most of all she was my love. With a fading hope the onlookers chose their sides and a very different existence rose from the ashes. We had been married less than 6 months!

So it began; the thinking and the drinking. What else was there to do? I rolled a boulder in front of my cave entrance and went into hibernation. I am not sure how long the winter lasted, but it was long and cold. Then one day I looked in the mirror and saw someone I didn’t recognise, someone who hadn’t seen his friends or family for a very long time, not really! I looked like a Buddha, I was over 18 stone and as I stood there staring into the mirror I suddenly wanted my life back!

My journey back has been fought on both physical and mental battle grounds; right here and right now is my ultimate challenge for both to meet, to come together and help me see exactly who I am, who I have become. My priorities in life have changed, what was important is no longer a concern, what used to annoy me is no longer an issue. I have changed my diet, I exercise regularly and I have even been to Thailand on a detox fasting and to learn Buddhist mediation in an attempt to quieten my mind of all the questions I now know have no answers. I have found silence in thought recognition, recognising I am doing it to myself, creating my own thoughts and feelings out of a combination of past regrets and future hopes. My goal is to slow down, to travel no faster than the speed of life, to be present in the present moment and enjoy each one before it too passes me by. So far the camino has given me a constant present moment.

Today I must have too much time on my hands and I have failed to recognise my thoughts for what they are. They have spiralled out of control and once again convinced me I am not where I should be in life, who I should be in life. I know they are just thoughts and the burning sensation on my face suddenly brings me back to the present, an hour has passed since the last time I looked and the stream of tears is blurring my vision. This is the closest thing to crazy I have even known, but then if they say madness and genius are closely linked then why not crazy and happy!! By the time I reach Santiago I know I will have found the right path, and I hope crazy and happy are the best of friends.
-----------

macasas

-----------

macasas
Andalucia.com Amigo
Posts: 67
Joined: Thu Jun 12, 2008 3:46 pm
Location: Somewhere on the Via de Plata

Day 10 – Almedrelejos – Mérida

Postby macasas » Thu Jun 26, 2008 8:48 am

Having spent the previous day lazing around and generally recovering, this morning started very slowly. It didn’t help that I had had my first real lie-in the day before so the now customary 5 o’clock start was a real struggle, it was just like getting up for work, basically I didn’t want to. After leaving the hotel I left the town by the crossroad route I had found on my way in, it was signposted Don Bonito, which I suppose could mean I was heading towards Pretty Boy. According to the guide I had to go east 3km to pick up the Via de la Plata, which ran alongside the town; I reckoned that was 30 to 40 minutes so I checked the watch. If I couldn’t find it after 50 minutes it was time to turn back, I had learned my lesson the last time it was still dark, this time I already had a Plan B.

After 40 minutes of checking every signpost around every junction for yellow arrows I still hadn’t found the camino. I’d give it 10 more minutes, then it was an hour back to the same starting point; it could be worse! Eventually I accepted the situation and I came to a stop. As I turned round I could see a small headlight coming towards me with a yellow flashing light on top. As it got closer I could hear it was a tractor, the locals were up early this morning after their night of celebrations, any victory against the Italians is worth celebrating and the horns and fireworks had gone on much of the night. But this guy was keen, and he was a local and that meant local knowledge. As he drew near I started waving, but because it was virtually dark he just waved back, Buen Dia I heard over the noise of the engine. No No Senor I shouted back, but he had already passed and all I could see was the back of his head bobbing up and down. And then he slowed down, pulled in and waited, I was off like a shot, running with my backpack; I figured 20 seconds now was worth an hour on my heels. Muchas gracias senor, buen dia, sabe donde esta el camino de Santiago. Si hombre, and just like when you’re trying to find something in the supermarket, eventually ask and its right in front of you, I was standing 20 meters from the junction. How lucky was that! You can’t beat a bit of local knowledge.

The camino was flat and wide for a good few hours, not much happened apart from my legs and my shoulders, but that’s old news. Just before the sun came out to play I found myself a good spot and got my breakfast going. It wasn’t the best so far, but it felt good to be back on the road in familiar surrounding watching nature do its thing.

A number of times while walking I have heard scratchings in the hedgerows or undergrowth as I’ve walked by. I have never seen who the noises belonged to, they are too shy to show themselves, perhaps rabbits, badgers, moles or something like that. While I was sat staring at the sunrise I heard another scratching, and then suddenly there was a rat the size of a cat standing 10 foot away. Okay it was a small cat but this guy was the Mike Tyson of the hedgerows, with a neck and legs to match. For a while we just sat looking at each other, he seemed as surprised to see me as I was him, but neither of us moved. It was like 2 kids having a staring competition, his nose kept twitching and his head turned a little in each direction but his eyes kept focus straight ahead, he sensed food and wasn’t going to budge that easy, he was looking straight at my breakfast, no he wasn’t he was looking at my feet! Suddently I felt exposed, I was sitting with my boots off to let my feet recover, and my socks were hanging on a nearby plant adding a nervous dose of vulnerability to my naked toes. That was it, the game was over, he could have my breakfast but as much as they hurt I was keeping my toes. Sudden movements are always good for scaring animals and small children, so the decision was made, I reached around and grabbed a boot, when I swung back to deliver the fatal blow Tyson had legged it, bloody hell he was big!

Breakfast was cut short as I packed my things and set off. No point in hanging around for Mikey boy to come back for another go, I mean he might have a hedgerow reputation to uphold. For the next few hours the camino kept changing surface, from fine gravel and flat which is good for walking, to stoney and rutted which is good for rolling your ankle, then eventually to sandy and pot holed which is good for sapping your energy. None of these is good for sore feet.

Generally I suppose I was having a good day, and then I got caught short. This is the first time all week my timing has been off and I could only put it down to eating too much the day before. This must happen all the time to other peregrinos so I would just find a bush and get on with it. Which would have been fine but the only plants of any description were grapevines and olive trees, and you can’t get down behind one of them can you, it’s someone’s crop, their livelihood, you or I might be eating those olives this afternoon in that café, or drinking that wine this time next year. No! It would have to be a proper bush or nothing, problem was that right at that time nothing was the only option available. So I learned how to walk with my legs crossed, which is not easy with a rucksack on, never mind the heat.

Mérida came into view sooner than expected. Before I knew it I was passing a Hostal booking a room and sipping a tinto de verano. It sounds easy, it sounds like a good day at the office after a few days off, it wasn’t! But my mind was somewhere else which sort of proves that pain is all in the mind, except my feet came back to remind me that it wasn’t.

Image
Mérida in the distance.
-----------

macasas

-----------

macasas
Andalucia.com Amigo
Posts: 67
Joined: Thu Jun 12, 2008 3:46 pm
Location: Somewhere on the Via de Plata

Do you stay, or do you go ????

Postby macasas » Thu Jun 26, 2008 8:52 am

Ok, you’ve been walking all morning, have covered 16km but the ground is spongy and the going is tough. It rained last night, proper thunder storms that had people running for cover and the result is sapping your energy with every step. Your thighs and bum muscles have been singing all morning on the 200m climb. You’ve got shin splints in your right ankle, a massive blister on the underside of the little toe on the same foot and your shoulders are already beginning to burn from your rucksack. It’s 11:30, the sky is blue and the next town is 21km away, and a 200m climb. You really want to get there today, that was the plan, you have plenty of water, have just had lunch and still have enough food for another 2 stops. Do you go, or do you stay?
-----------

macasas

-----------

macasas
Andalucia.com Amigo
Posts: 67
Joined: Thu Jun 12, 2008 3:46 pm
Location: Somewhere on the Via de Plata

Day 11 Mérida – Alcuescar

Postby macasas » Thu Jun 26, 2008 8:55 am

So what did you decide? did you stay where you were, or did you go? Here's my day in full.


The views along today’s walk were breathtaking. At 7 o’clock this morning I had lunch with a new sun, sitting by the lake at Proserpina. There is an old Roman wall that runs it’s length to match the aquaduct that is still partially standing in Mérida. It’s an awesome sight first thing in the morning and I’ve seen both today.

As I walked the road to Prosperpina I could up ahead the young Spanish peregrine I had met the day before on the way into Mérida. I didn’t want to catch him up, this was a special time of the day and needed to be carried out in solitude. As it turned out I was stopping for breakfast, and just like the old Spanish couple I had met back in Castilblanco, he didn’t appear to be stopping for anything.

The decision to go was not without regret, or partial regret especially as the day wore on and the sun got hotter. Around 3 in the afternoon sun I was trying to hide under the best shade I could find and eat the last of my food. It was so peaceful I could hear just about everything nature had to offer. As I looked back down the path I had just walked I could see a low flying bird coming straight towards me. My twitcher friend Greg would have known it in an instant, but I have no idea what type of bird it was, except it was black, had a wing span of 4 to5 foot and had a gentle wing flap. As it passed overhead I could actually hear the sound of the wing pushing the air beneath it, and in three woooops it was gone. I was awestruck, I still am just thinking about it.

I arrived in Alcuéscar around 4:30, the hottest part of the day and not to be recommended. I found the first bit of shade offered by the front gate to a church and leant against the wall the stretch my screaming shoulders. I closed my eyes and it actually felt as if my feet were sliding away from the wall, that was a long walk and my body was feeling every step of it. As I sat down people started leaving the church. First there was a man pushing a wheelchair, then a priest. I got my guide out and reread the bit about a albergue in a church that was also a hospital of a kind for handicapped men. And then out walked the peregrine I had seen that morning. I was 5 minutes from a bed, so I picked up my bag and went in to ask.

The albergue is very basic, but the people are friendly and it’s all a matter of donations. The showers are great, there was a washing and drying place outside, mass was at 7, dinner at 8, doors locked at 9:30 and you could leave at 6:30 in the morning. The bell is currently ringing to call everyone in to lock the doors, there is only 1 and I think it is right outside my window. Did I say 6:30, that’s almost a lie in, adios.
-----------

macasas

-----------

macasas
Andalucia.com Amigo
Posts: 67
Joined: Thu Jun 12, 2008 3:46 pm
Location: Somewhere on the Via de Plata

Keyless in Andalucia

Postby macasas » Thu Jun 26, 2008 9:08 am

After 2 years of living in my post-marital flat I had decided it was time to move on, but where to? I had never changed the original hideous curtains so that every time I looked at them it would make me think about moving. I didn’t want to just go somewhere else, to carry on in the same vein, to continue floating along in life. I wanted to do something different, something that was me, that gave me the freedom to live and the desire to be passionate about living once again. The idea didn’t come to me in a sudden moment of inspiration. Oh no it took a good year of thinking, modifying, adjusting, fine tuning and reworking. Eventually I came up with an idea for a new business, my new business, and it was going to be mobile, in more ways than one.

First of all I wanted to do some travelling. I had always put it off for some reason or another; wasn’t the right time, wasn’t with the right person, wasn’t in the right job, couldn’t afford it right now blah blah blah. I wanted to go to Cuba, everyone was saying how it would be changing now that Castro’s brother was sort of in charge. I could learn to salsa, enjoy some local music and chat with the locals. I also wanted to go to Machu Pichu, go trekking in Nepal, travel rough around South America, (apparently there is no other way) and a whole list of other places.

Secondly I wanted to improve on my Spanish. Although we had lived in Spain, living in Valencia where they speak Valenciana had never really helped. I couldn’t go and sit in the local bar and just listen, they weren’t talking Spanish. I had tried to keep it up with CDs and internet but it was conversation I needed, to be there listening and trying to understand. It had become a real passion, all my friends thought I was great at it, but I knew that in a real conversation my understanding of the language was sorely lacking.

Most of all I wanted to wake up each morning with a desire to get up and meet the day. I wanted to feel the passion of life running through me in terms of my personal and working day, to meet each new challenge with a smile and the knowledge that it was just a matter of time before I had moved on to the next.

Within a few months I sold, gave away or threw away virtually everything I owned; I am left with a few boxes of books and some personal items being stored in my mum’s garage; thanks mum. The emotional ties that had grown between me and all this useless stuff, stuff I hadn’t used or even seen for over a year, were cut one by one. Personal memories were purged along with the burning of paperwork containing 8 years of business accounts and other personal paperwork. It took days to burn! Although the process was long, on the day I moved out of my flat and left my car outside mum’s house the feeling was immensely relaxing. All of a sudden I was keyless, without home, car or anything of any material substance in my life, and it felt fantastic!

So there it was, my first challenge, to change my life so I could have all these things and more if I wanted, or less if I chose and I was already underway. I know it can be done, I know I am the person to do it and the Camino de Santiago is a good place start. When I reach Santiago, I will have reached my starting point. Hasta Santiago!
-----------

macasas

-----------

Marina
Resident
Posts: 1278
Joined: Fri Jun 04, 2004 6:19 pm
Location: Canillas De Aceituno

Postby Marina » Thu Jun 26, 2008 9:51 am

Blimey! What a roller coster of a read and so interesting!
Good luck.

mirandamac
Resident
Posts: 458
Joined: Thu Mar 06, 2008 11:27 pm
Location: York + Andalucia soon I hope

Postby mirandamac » Thu Jun 26, 2008 9:58 am

I love your writing - I can really feel some of what you're feeling (oh no you can't I hear you say, definitely not the sore feet and shoulders etc etc). And as for Tyson - I have this lovely (?) image of him sitting looking at your breakfast. Please put all this into a book when you've finished and congratualtions for beating those demons - maybe the hardest thing you've done?

User avatar
mijasmagic
Andalucia.com Amigo
Posts: 168
Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2007 10:21 am
Location: Mijas, Spain

Postby mijasmagic » Thu Jun 26, 2008 10:18 am

Hi Macasas and well done on so many fronts so far. I think it´s brave of you to express your innermost thoughts so publicly and hopefully it will add to your therapy.

You mentioned at one point your weight having gone up to 18 stones. Did you weigh yourself before you started out on the Camino, and if so how much have you (presumably) lost so far?

Good luck once again. You can gauge from the number of views how much interest you´re provoking and I´m sure this will grow as time goes by.

macasas
Andalucia.com Amigo
Posts: 67
Joined: Thu Jun 12, 2008 3:46 pm
Location: Somewhere on the Via de Plata

Day 12 Alcuescar to Cáceres

Postby macasas » Thu Jun 26, 2008 12:49 pm

Todays lesson will be one of patience, to have a little more and to use it when the alternatives are not favourable. As a result of my impatience, and my frustration at typical Spanish timekeeping I ended walking another 12km at 5 in the afternoon, just when the heat was at it’s worst and my feet were complaining the most. And where did it get me, further along the camino, no! Because the next few days distances have been planned around the places I can stay and so all I get tomorrow is a lie in and short 11km walk to Casa de Cáseres. I am sure my feet will still be complaining but then who can blame them after the day they’ve had today. I admit, the blisters are all down to me.

I left Alcuescar when the doors opened and shot off up the main street in search of a yellow arrow. Within 200 meters something already felt wrong, there were no marking! Without really thinking about it I turned around and headed back to the church, and as I approached it I could see the back edge of an arrow, and it was pointing west, not north, that was a lucky escape.

The morning was filled with the smell of plants. Can anyone tell me what this plant is called, it is a very glossy green and I cannot put my finger on the smell, but when you are surrounded by them it fills the nostrils with every breath and clears the mind of thoughts.
Image

Towards midday even the sheep had had enough of the heat and along with their old dog had found shelter under the road. Like a shoal of fish they parted, nervous of this new intruder into their daily routine, but like the fish I couldn’t have caught one if I had tried, so quick they parted like the Red Sea to let me pass. Except Old Shep, who staggering to his tired feet gave me a look that said “oh give me a break, I just laid down”.

Image

Out the other side they were still flocking to get under the shade, for ten more minutes they cantered down the hill with ringing bells and limping legs. Funny thing, everyone I noticed was limping on its front right leg, was something causing that, the shepherd perhaps, trying to stop them from running too far, or were they just taking the mikey out of me. My sympathy was ready for these limping wool machines who were still covered in a good think cardigan, no wonder they needed shade wearing that lot.

At around 1 o’clock I came over the brow of a hill and there in front of me was Vadesalor, which meant behind me was today’s 28km. On the small uphill section into town I rolled my ankle on a stone. It had been a difficult day with much of it spent looking down to ensure I had a good footing and on this last section I had been looking ahead to see where I was heading. It doesn’t take much to twist an ankle in the wrong direction, especially when it is already inflamed and looking for any excuse to scream. It screamed all the way to the only open bar.

According to my guide book the bar held the key to the albergue, which was R&F, short for roof and floor, which meant no beds but hopefully showers. Right now no beds I could handle. The ajuntamiento opposite was already closed when I entered the bar, so there was no hurry, a few drinks and a relaxing hour would sort me out and then I could get my stamp and have a nap, sorted!

Execpt the woman behind the bar didn’t have the key, a man called Carlos had the key and he lived in the last house on the last street, go and knock his door, or wait for the town hall to open at 3.

The town hall was still closed at 4, I had knocked the door of the last house on the last street but there was no reply, perhaps he had gone fishing, no, not in this heat. I went back to the town hall and on the way noticed the bar had closed, everything had closed! So what were my options: I could stay there until Carlos came home, the town hall opened or the bar opened again. At worst that would be 8ish, too late to do anything else and the worst case scenario would be sleeping in the bus shelter; I could carry on, 12km more to Cáceres where there would be plenty of everything. So the decision was made, a pit stop at the petrol station refilled the water bottle and me, and off up the hill I went!

20 minutes later I was already regretting my decision, as I said before, today’s lesson will be about patience and this was to be a very painful lesson. The sun was the hottest it had been all day, I know I know this so why am I here? Of course there is no shade, I know this too! My shin splints screamed as the climb up the hill continued, the sun started to burn at the back of my neck and behind my knees, it was on my other side now, and was heating the water bottle up unlike in the morning. With just a few kilometres gone I had to stop and reapply the ibuprofen gel to my ankle, there was nothing I could do with the undertoe blisters that were now looking black rather than red, there was so much loose skin it had bunched together to look like an unironed shirt. Don’t touch it, just put the sock back on!

And so the limp into Cáceres began, slightly earlier than expected but then some lessons are longer than others. Each step had some form of pain attached to it and my body must have been self-adjusting itself to distribute the pressure because where there had been nothing before, suddenly I had a row of blisters from the ball of the foot to my big toe, again on my right foot, still the left one had only the one undertoe, but that was big enough! This time it called for a Compeed to cover them all, I didn’t drain any of them as the others had sort of been okay until I drained them, and I decided it was time for a fresh pair of socks. It didn’t help! The Cáceres crawl is now famous, by the time I arrived the whole town was out evening shopping, and they all watching me limp right down the main road into the Plaza Major, it was almost nine in the evening, it had been a long day and I needed to take my boots off.

The Albergue Toustica just off the Plaza was a very welcome sight. The owners are also very friendly, I was given my own room, private bathroom and before long I was sat with my feet up watching Germany and Turkey. The Turks gave a good showing, and with only 4 minutes remaining equalised with a fantastic goal. Sitting with a groups of Spaniards, our hopes were high, but within minutes it was all over as Germany got the winning goal. The Turks suddenly looked beat and very tired, I knew how they felt and limped off myself to the best nights sleep I had in ages, so good in fact I have decided to rest up tomorrow, because I really need to sort my feet out. I know I am running out of rest days, but this place has a good feel about it, a sort of travellers recovery station and let's face it, what can you do if you can’t walk!
-----------

macasas

-----------

Kathy
Andalucia.com Amigo
Posts: 200
Joined: Mon Dec 13, 2004 4:40 pm
Location: Andalucia

Postby Kathy » Thu Jun 26, 2008 2:40 pm

Its so refreshing to read on a public forum, notes from a man with an open heart.

Keep it coming:-)))

macasas
Andalucia.com Amigo
Posts: 67
Joined: Thu Jun 12, 2008 3:46 pm
Location: Somewhere on the Via de Plata

These boots were not made for walking.

Postby macasas » Thu Jun 26, 2008 4:33 pm

In preparation for this walk I reckoned that the most important purchase I could make would be a decent pair of boots. I must have tried on twenty different brands, models and styles and couldn’t believe how very different they all felt. Even within the same size, and I’m a size 11, the range of fits was incredible. Eventually I narrowed it down to a pair of Technical Pro Event walking boots, they were £100, more than I had ever spent but I considered it a good investment.

Just before starting the Via de la Plata I Walked the Wight, it was my dress rehearsal, with a loaded up rucksack I had a few funny looks that day as most were just out for the day, carrying sandwiches and essentials at most. We all walked from point to point along various stretches of road, paths and fields. All told it was about 26 miles and by the end my feet still felt great; it was a good sign!

To date on the Via de la Plata I have walked about a third, that’s 300ish kilometres which is less than 200 miles. I am only in my 2nd week. I am not a professional walker; I do not go out on weekends hiking up Snowdon or around the New Forest so I don’t have anything to compare my pain with. My only comparison is with the state of my feet, the pain in each step and the fact that my boots have already worn out.

Image

It turns out that Technicals is the brand name given to Blacks own make of boots. They put them up on the shelf next to North Face, Solomon and HiTec with a price tag to match; would these other brands have worn out so soon? Am I expecting too much from my boots as well as my feet? My old pair of Hi-Tecs lasted for years without much sign of wear, but then they were never subjected to the Camino de Santiago. Am I expecting too much from myself?

I realise I will need to buy another pair of boots before this walk is over, and for those of you that know rural Spain you will understand just how hard that may turn out to be. Most of the towns I am passing through only just have a bar, one only had one house! When the Spanish couple had their boots stolen he ended up with a pair of cheap trainers and that was the best he could do. And Blacks have suggested I take them back to the shop so they can consider if there was a manufacturing fault. This means I can either carry them all the way back on the off chance they agree they have worn out or put them in the post. Just quite how I am going to package and post these boots without loosing a day in the process I cannot imagine. I think I have only seen one post office the whole journey so far and having minimised my stuff 3 or 4 times to reduce the weight on my shoulders I cannot imagine my anger at standing in front of a shop assistant telling me it must be the way I walk, and suggesting a credit note.

So another lesson in life, Mr Blacks takes the money and I am left with little choice but to throw away the one thing I thought would take me all the way to Santiago. Each time I pass Blacks I will sneer until the feelings of being ripped off have faded, or I cannot find what I want in any other shop. Another £100 gone, another lesson learned, don’t always take the advice of a self-proclaimed expert even if it is a shop, and don’t think the journey will depend on one thing more than another, it takes a great deal of effort by everything involved to get where you want to go. Go and buy some decent boots!
-----------

macasas

-----------

bob
Resident
Posts: 257
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2005 6:23 pm

Postby bob » Thu Jun 26, 2008 5:00 pm

Not my first trek, nor my last, but in 1972, a pair of $100 Pivetta hiking boots took me from Paris to Rome over a 6 month period. Aside from good physical and mental condition, boots are, as is all gear, key. The boots lasted 24 years, but by then, Pivetta was gone too.

Kathy
Andalucia.com Amigo
Posts: 200
Joined: Mon Dec 13, 2004 4:40 pm
Location: Andalucia

Postby Kathy » Thu Jun 26, 2008 6:49 pm

I bought a pair of Tibmerland walking shoes and they served me proud on a six month trip in Latin America. Leather with strong soles.
Good luck with sourcing a new pair in Extremadura.

Jennifer
Resident
Posts: 392
Joined: Thu Jun 17, 2004 10:53 am
Location: Jaen

Postby Jennifer » Thu Jun 26, 2008 10:17 pm

Hi,
You should be able to get hold of Chiruca boots, made in Espana :)
I've had a pair for ages now, used to walk/run the dogs for 2hrs a day.
Can be pricey in shoe shops but available in Agro type stores on the poligonos.
J

Deborah
Andalucia.com Amigo
Posts: 128
Joined: Mon Jul 12, 2004 2:53 pm

Postby Deborah » Fri Jun 27, 2008 11:34 am

Hi Macasas,

When do you plan on arriving in Santiago. I get there on July 19th. Doing the French route. Not as many km as you this time though. Just the last 125km. I take groups of (usually) American kids, that raise money for charity.

For those on the forum, I have lots of photos, I will see if I can upload some of them for you. And if you have never done the Camino, then I really, really recommend it. I mentioned ages ago about taking a group from Andalucia (doing the French route). I still do this, so pm me if you want details for next years trip.

There is also a Associacion de Amigos del Camino de Santiago in Malaga. They meet on Tuesday nights. If anyone wants to come with me anytime just let me know. I will be happy to show you where it is. There is even a new route from Malaga, a bit hard going. http://www.malaga.es/turismo/rutas/ficha.asp?pag=1
It is known as the Malaga Mozarabe route. Passing places like Ardales etc. It is in spanish I am afraid, but as you turn the pages you will see plans of the route.

Buen camino, amigo Macasas. If you want the name of a cheap hostal in Santiago let me know and I will pass on the telephone number to you.

You are right, when you get to Santiago y is not the end of your journey, just the beginning. Animo!

macasas
Andalucia.com Amigo
Posts: 67
Joined: Thu Jun 12, 2008 3:46 pm
Location: Somewhere on the Via de Plata

Camino Frances

Postby macasas » Wed Jul 02, 2008 6:37 pm

Not planning on doing the Camino Frances just yet :)

The Malaga Mozarabe is a part of the Via de la Plata, just like Granada and Madrid join it like links of a motorway. The Via de la Plata is also known as the Camino Mozarabe, it is the Moors/Arabic name for it.

I have spoken to 2 people about the Camino Frances and their comments and differences are in the next few sections of my posts.
-----------

macasas

-----------


Return to “Travel, Tourism & Destinations”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests