Last night’s meal was spectacular value at Casa Sebas. I still haven’t learned, and ordered a menu del dia. There was a choice of five or six dishes for each course. I ordered seafood soup, roast chicken (which arrived with two whole quarters of chicken and chips), home made flan (creme caramel), bread, coffee, a large bottle of water and a whole bottle of wine per person – all for 9 euros. Of course I couldn’t eat it all, in fact the soup was really sufficient. So I took the chicken and the roll away with me for today’s lunch and dinner, but forgot to put it in the fridge, and as it was rather hot in the dorm last night I didn’t think it was worth the chance of a tummy upset and left it behind.
This is a very male dominated camino. I was the only woman amongst six men last night. I do miss some female company, but the guys are all very pleasant. English Paul, French Olivier, and the two Germans are regulars on my stages. Last night there was a Spanish cyclist and another Spaniard who is running the camino, around 40 km per day. He trotted past me early on this morning and soon disappeared into the distance.
Today’s hike commenced on the road, and remained that way for the best part of 7 km, but then diverted onto a nice track as far as the town of Baños de Montemayor at around 10 km, where I stopped in a cafe for a Cola Cao (very poor excuse for a hot chocolate). Before setting off again I togged up in the wet weather gear (not very extensive as far as I am concerned, just my pack cover and rain jacket) because the sky was very threatening and it was also quite blustery although not at all cold.
My guide told me that Baños de Montemayor is the last town I will pass through in Extremadura and I soon moved into the province of Salamanca in the autonomous district of Castilla y León. With this change of district comes a change of signage. Gone are the ‘hitos’, the blocks of granite or stainless steel boxes with images of the Cáparra arch which have been rather ambiguous in their direction from time to time! And in come the wooden posts with a yellow triangle indicating the way. In my short acquaintance with these new signs, I have to say that they already inspire a bit more confidence than those provided by Extremadura, where I have been lost and wandering a couple of times.
The second part of the walk has been beautiful, mostly on comfortable tracks, alongside my favourite granite drystone walls covered in moss, with stunning countryside. The broom has been fabulous during the last couple of days, the colour is really vibrant and the scent follows as I pass by. Dense swathes of lavendar still abound and the colour combination of yellow and purple is just wonderful.
It rained on and off for this part of the hike, but the rain couldn’t dull the beauty of the surroundings. There was snow on the distant mountains this morning – not much but if you look closely at some of the photos you will see it. Someone had been out marking the track today, lots of arrows scraped into the dirt track and some beautiful flower directions – so lovely.
I really took my time to walk today, enjoying every step of the way (once I got off the road). A lovely (short-ish) stage to make up for yesterday’s great effort.
I arrived at the homely Albergue Alba y Soraya, to be greeted by a roaring fire (not at all necessary but nevertheless a joy to see). There are 28 beds, including singles and doubles but of course I am in a dormitory with all men. This is a tiny village with very few facilities, but the Albergue serves food so there may not be any need to move far. There is a lovely garden, but not the weather to enjoy it.
The usual suspects are here, the two Germans (I must find out their names), Paul, Olivier has just limped in with very poorly feet), French-Canadian Daniel has arrived – not seen him for a few days, apparently he skipped a stage so has caught up) and there are a couple of new people (French I think) who I have not come across before. This is a really nice place to stay (just as well really because there is not much choice here), and they serve food for lunch and dinner (and a big glass of wine for 1€ – sorted!)
My friend Olivier has informed me today that there are no cash machines (ATM’s) until we reach Salamanca, three days hence. My remaining 20€ won’t get me far. Señora at the Albergue says that when we reach our next destination I can draw 50€ cash from the supermarket. If this is the case I can pay back Olivier who has just loaned me 50€ to see me through. Funny thing is, that I offered him 50€ a few days ago when he was running low and I was flush. Such are the bonds made between pilgrims.
This tiny village with only one bar and no shop has very old buildings and is very characterful. It is now blowing an absolute gale and the fire seems more necessary by the minute!
And added to this great day’s hike, I was thrilled to receive some views on my blog from a new country – Honduras. The information provided by the stats section of my blog always fascinates me, and now that I have received views from 130 countries, new ones are few are far between and cause great excitement. So if you are my viewer from Honduras, thank you, please hang around.
Whilst I am sitting here writing my blog there are three guys sitting outside, under the shelter of the terrace roof with their two dogs. I have seen them a few times and mostly they camp out. But now the rain is pelting down in a horizontal fashion and the hospitaleros won’t allow them to stay in the grounds for the night. It seems hard, but they have no money and there is a business to be run. I hope they all find somewhere dry to stay tonight. I feel really sorry for the dogs – they haven’t made the choice to walk the camino, although they seem to enjoy it for the most part.