Sunday, February 13, 2011


At Monasterio the trail passed from  Andalucia to Extramadura, a vast but relatively flat and sparsely populated region of Spain. 

The biggest challenges for pilgrims are the long distances between towns and villages and the scarcity of facilities and supplies. Yet this is the best place to view the cultural, architectural, and engineering achievements of the Roman Empire. I could hardly wait to get to Merida, a UNESCO World Heritage site some 110 km ahead.

A typical view of Extramadura
The yellow arrow on the rock is hardly necessary.

The first half of the of the day was a pleasant walk through oak forests on a trail that was enclosed by dry stone walls that continued the whole way. Off in the distance I could see the whitewashed town of Calera de Leon.  Pretty to look at, but not my destination today.

At the half way point the scenery changed completely to open bleached grasslands with few fences and trees. At one point I saw a carved wooden map of the Via de la Plata and right beside it was a red metal box. Inside it was a video cassette case with a pen and book for pilgrims to leave words of encouragement for those following. I wrote, "You must have courage to make your dreams come true".

Approaching my destination I saw a man ploughing his field. It was as if I had stepped back 100 years in time. The pace of life in central Spain is so different from its major cities.

Franck and I stayed in the albergue turistico, a superb and luxuriously restored former Franciscan convent . The 12 euro fee included breakfast. What a bargain!

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