Not much to say today. I have a blister on my big toe now as I overcompensate for the blisters on my little toes, making 3 blisters. The roof has come off one of the blisters so Karine’s betadine is coming in very useful as I do what I can to maintain them. I’m currently sat in a bar in the central square of Fuente de Cantos and I’m pretty hungry having missed the lunch serving and having to wait until 5pm until the supermarket opens. My albergue, the Via de la Plata, is in a grand old convent but is very cold and draughty – as was the albergue last night!
So far every albergue I’ve been to, apart from the Triana Backpackers in Seville, has offered very thick blankets in the bedrooms and I’ve needed them! I’ve been going to sleep with my breath visible in front of my face, it gets very cold here at night and they seem uninterested in turning on the heating. The hospitalera pointed out an electric heater in my room tonight, the first attempt at heating – it’s going to get a bashing this evening as I warm myself and dry my pants!
The walk was pretty once more for the first 8kms with frost on the ground and animals running around in fields enjoying their breakfast and the first rays of sunlight. At around 10.30 a fog descended that did not lift for another 10kms. I thought it was interesting that my visibility became so short as, because of the blisters, I hadn’t been looking around much anyway – just getting my head down and powering in the kms to town.
Yesterday in Monesterio I had bought some supplies for this 20km walk as there were no towns in between and so I needed to fashion my own lunch. This is the case tomorrow too for a 27k hike to Zafra. My lunch today consisted of sitting on a stone in the fog and eating mixed dried fruit and two Oreos. It sounds very drab but was enjoyable enough. After lunch the final few kms were brightened by a friendly donkey who took my apple very gentley and accepted some head stroking!
This is a very different Camino to the Frances, it’s certainly more beautiful but it’s also harsh. There’s no one to talk too and there are very few facilities. Most of the albergues are very basic and don’t offer washing machines or dryers and the towns themselves are not set up for pilgrims. Dinner starts in these towns at 9pm – at which time I’m already making my way to bed! On the Frances they’re serving some kind of food all the time as pilgrims will wander into town anytime between 11-6pm. If you like solitude and are ‘duro’ this is the pilgrimage for you – but if you’re a fan of flowery fresh clothes and enjoy interacting with others (and frequent coffee break opportunities) then the Frances wins out. If I was here with a friend I’d prefer it here but on measure the experience on the Frances, just for the human interaction, wins and should certainly be anyone’s first camino. Also, if you speak no Spanish here you’re in trouble! Walking North, after 4 Frances, does also feel very strange, a bit unnatural actually!
So, tomorrow is a long old walk into Zafra with some pretty gnarly blisters. There’s two big towns before Caceres, which is my last getting off spot before going back to the UK, Zafra and Merida, though they are also only a couple of days apart, are both worth an extra day. With the blisters as they are I may stay an extra day in Zafra and explore this city of which I know nothing at all! I assume it has some old Roman bits and Moorish bits! Let’s see!