Sunday, February 13, 2011


The first part of our day started with a beautiful walk through acres of holm oaks that were overflowing with herds of free roaming sheep and black pigs while vultures circled overhead looking for an easy meal. I kept a wary eye on some of the large pigs but they seemed to feign indifference to pilgrims.

Then came the gates.

The clang of the first gate I opened and closed was still ringing in my ears when I came upon the second gate...and shortly thereafter the third. By the time I had exited the 25th gate I had barely walked 10 km. Enough gates already!

In the middle of nowhere I walked by this very posh finca. It was a stunningly beautiful home that was totally incongruous with its environment. It even had manicured lawns!

Near the quaint little town of El Real de la Jara where Franck and I stopped for a coffee was a memorial dedicated to Jose Luis Salvador Salvador who played a prominent role in the modern revival of the Via de la Plata. It is dedicated people like Salvador that we have to thank for the trails that we walk.

It was blissfully quiet as I continued walking through the holm oak forest. All I could hear were the sounds of my feet and walking stick hitting the ground, the squeaking of my backpack harness and the birds that  disturbed along the way. It was heavenly.

As I rounded a corner I saw this magnificent ruined "castillo".  With a couple of million it could be as good as new.

Unfortunately the last ten km were along a busy highway, never a pleasant walk. My legs ached, I was very tired and with 3 km to go I ran out of water. As I entered Monasterio I spied a bar. The water tasted as good as anything I can remember, but the beer chaser was even better.

The albergue was closed (a new one was under construction) so Franck and I decided to share a room in a hostal.  The Dutch couple didn't arrive and we thought it unlikely that we would see them again.

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