We searched long and hard last evening to find somewhere to eat and it seemed we were likely to be out of luck as none of the bars were serving food. We finally found that the rather unlikely-looking bar we had passed first of all, actually served food so we quickly sat down and ordered. George tried the caracoles which are obviously a speciality of the area – all bars have boards stating the time that their caracoles will be ready. Although I have tasted snails before and am quite adventurous in my tastes, I was NOT tempted to join him. But even his delicate stomach didn’t complain and he had soon spiked all the little creatures out of their shells – declaring them to be ‘quite spicy and a bit gritty’. No thanks!
When we returned to the albergue the church bell tower was lit up and my bedroom window looked directly out onto it – I couldn’t resist a photo.
With a large room all to myself I slept quite well until I was woken by a giant clash of thunder closely followed by the sound of great drops of rain lashing down on the roof. Luckily it was over quickly and by the time we walked out of the door it had ceased to rain.
For anyone walking this route, we took the key back to the Policia Local and walked on to the bottom of the street, turned right and followed this road to the end where a huge church building faces you. Turn right here and continue until you can see some steps that lead to the main road above. Take the road straight across the roundabout and you should soon see an arrow.
The first part of the walk was on a busy and fast road (N432), but after s couple of kilometres we turned onto a dirt track, once again leading through olive groves. The day remained dry and warm. The path was quite trying to walk on – very stony and uneven, but without much elevation. Amongst the olives were the occasional vast field of grain which was a treat for the senses after days and days of nothing but olives.
I was worried that the path might be muddy again after the early morning rain, but luckily it remained compacted and dry.
After a couple of hours I could see the small town of Espejo in the distance with an impressive castle at the very top of a steep hill. And guess what? Yes, we had to pass that castle and then descend through more olives. The precision with which these trees are planted makes amazing patterns on the hillsides – quite mesmerising.
While passing through Espejo we stopped for a morning coffee and after a few minutes and group of three pilgrims walked into the cafe. Two men and a woman, around my age, from Germany and walking from Granada to Mérida, but staying in hostels – not doing it ‘on the cheap’ like us.
There was a lot less elevation (other than walking into and out of Espejo) today, just lots of gently rolling hillsides. After another couple,of hours it was time for a boots of break and the Germans caught up with us and decided to do the same (without the ‘boots off’ part – they don’t know what they’re missing!) It made a change to see the olive trees from a different angle and it was nice to wriggle my toes for a while. I have had an ache in my right foot today running along the top from my big toe to the top of my arch. I wonder if I am wearing my boots too tight and will try loosening my laces. Other than that I am doing quite well with my feet. Using the hiker’s wool whenever I can feel a hot spot looming. Yesterday I developed a tiny blister on the back of my heel but I drained it and I don’t think it will be a problem.
The last section the today’s walk was similar to the first, but on a much faster road with vehicles zooming past at breakneck speed – a little unnerving to say the least. We reached the edge of Santa Cruz at about 13:30 and stopped at a bar for a drink whilst I phoned the number given in my notes for the ayuntamiento, who I was told would supply space in the sports hall for pilgrims. This turned out not to be the case – they have no pilgrim accommodation, and as the bar we were sitting in is also a hostal and we were offered a cheap rate for the night, we have not moved since.
I even had lunch today, a starter of salmorejo a cold purée (very thick soup) of tomatoes, bread, oil and garlic and sprinkled with chopped boiled egg and small pieces of jamon (delicious), followed by grilled chicken and chips (I have enough chicken left for supper) and finished off with home made flan (creme caramel).
As I am sitting in the bar writing this (good wifi connection for the duration of my stay – yay) a thunder and rain storm has raged, which doesn’t bode well for the state of the tracks tomorrow. But a strong wind has also picked up so perhaps the paths will be blown dry by the time we step out in the morning.
I shall go in search of some fruit in a while – I am definitely missing my ‘five a day’.
It has continued to rain on and off all afternoon/evening and I am more than a little worried about the state of the track tomorrow. We may opt to walk the slightly shorter route all along the road which won’t be fun, but maybe less fraught than the track. Vamos a ver!
Distance according to wikiloc (my own recording) 24.4 km, mapmywalk 25.94 km. Fitbit recorded steps 15,478 before battery ran out, say it should have been 32,306
Accumulated elevation uphill 335 metres
Accumulated elevation downhill 396 metres
Total distance walked 213.6 km, average 26.7 km per day
Today’s spend – coffee 1.1€, lunch,supper and drinks 18.3€, shopping (clementines and chocolate) 1.5€, hostal 15€ = 35.9€
Eight days total spend 185.5€