Last night’s communal dinner was good and cost 9€. Vegetable soup to start. Then came some bowls of salad and a plate of grilled pork loin. My first thought was that the meat was a bit mean to go around nine people, then I realised there was a plate like this for each of us and I had no problem getting through it. Dessert was a choice of fruit, yoghurt or icecream and I chose the latter, but soon regretted it when it arrived in the form of a bar of icecream between two soggy biscuits. The Spanish seem to favour soggy biscuits in their desserts, but that it one custom I have not adopted.
Yesterday I was also informed that there were no atm’s before Salamanca – three days away. This was a problem for me because I was down to 25€, which even on my tight budget did not add up. Fortunately Olivier was happy to loan me 50€ to see me through. But this morning I asked señora hospitalera where I could get some money and she told me they the shop in the next destinstion would give me 50€ on my bank card, which was a great relief.
I made a fairly leisurely start this morning at around 07:45 and as soon as I had passed through the village the arrows directed me along a narrow track (which was a bit muddy and slippery after yesterday’s rain) and then onto a wide sandy track which was excellent. The sky was fascinating with the sun peeping through the heavy clouds, but it was dry and the wind had dropped and I had perfect fresh walking conditions. Other than a short stretch on Tarmac (possibly 3km on a very quiet road) the whole way was on easy track.
However there were a couple of places where huge granite blocks formed stepping stones across steams. At the first of these I suffered s near disaster. The second block was at a very astute angle and my foot slipped and over I went – down onto my left side. Luckily I remained pretty much on the block, my left foot entering the water and my backpack threatening to pull me fully into the stream, but fortunately my reactions saved the day and I scrambled up with only a bruised thigh and a scraped and bruised elbow. It could have been so much worse with all my technology very close to being ejected or soaked. But all was well and I quickly composed myself and carried on.
Lots more cows today. These are beautiful animals of all colours, very clean and healthy looking. I came across a horse picking at greenery through his fence. I thought I would give him a treat and held out my hand with some chocolate, but he didn’t seem to know what to do about it. Probably hasn’t been offered too many treats in his life. A little further along the road I came across an old guy with a huge donkey who had no trouble accepting my chocolate (the donkey that is, not the guy).
By some stroke of luck I took the right path during the second part of the walk whereas Paul followed the advice of another pilgrim and ended up battling through water-logged brambles and when I took a short break he walked up behind me, whereas he should have been in front. He was none too pleased about the duff advice and we walked together the rest of the way to our destinstion.
I am staying tonight at the donativo parochial Albergue of Father Blas – a rather famous priest on the Via de la Plata, who services five parishes. There is a communal dinner and breakfast is also provided. There are a few new faces at the Albergue today, an American couple who are walking sections the camino and a group of spanish guys. Also Paul and Olivier are here but Daniel and the French and Dutch couples are staying in a casa rural.
The three with the dogs (who were found shelter last night by señora) are here, having been allocated a teepee to sleep in. I need to pop out and buy some food for tomorrow, as there are no facilities between here and our destination 28 km along the road.