Today’s distance 26 km
Elevation gain 321 m
Elevation loss 493 m
Total distance from Almería 320.5 km
I have been asked about my group of camigas and the changing numbers. We set off as five from Almería. Sadly after struggling along for several days, Mary Louise from Canada was beaten by a flu-like virus and even after a rest day in Granada didn’t feel able to continue her camino and reluctantly went home.
A couple of days earlier in Guadix we were joined by Clare, also from Canada, who had started walking the day before we five, but took a rest day and joined the group.
And then, a friend of Gwen’s joined us in Granada. Laurie is from Australia and the two have walked together on a previous camino.
So we were six again, but for various reasons have been staying in separate accommodation for the last couple of days. We tend to walk at different speeds. Nina and I slightly faster than the others, so we don’t see much of each other during the day. Poor Nina has also been increasingly suffering from a virus, but is really strong and has continued despite a fever and a bad cough. She fell into bed on arrival at our albergue today and hopefully a good rest will help her fight her symptoms.
So, I hope that is all clear. Six in the group, but surprisingly quite a few others walking the same stages. I know of two Spanish guys, a Puerto Rican, a Brit, a French couple, a lovely Spanish woman and two German guys, plus we six – that makes 15 whereas we didn’t really expect to see anyone else. Interest in this camino is definitely growing. Hopefully the albergue infrastructure will improve with time.
We need to carry extra weight of food and water today because there are no facilities on this stage.
There was a very misty start to the day – it was quite chilly and the air was damp.
We left town on the main road but only for a few metres then we are diverted onto a side road with virtually no traffic – once again walking through olive groves. There are huge ancient trees as well as lots of new planting. There seem to be many ways of treating the ground around the trees. Some areas have completely cleared, presumably by weedkiller, others have circular patches cleared around the trees but weeds are allowed to grow elsewhere, others have been mulched between the trees with the shreddings of the pruned waste.
We pass a huge solar panel farm that goes on for hundreds of metres and after 3.5 km of road walking we finally come to a track, and around 09:00 the cloud broke up a little, allowing some blue sky and sunshine to pass through
The track climbs a little and suddenly we are high above the valley with a sizeable river flowing through it and pine trees on the opposite hillside with birds singing to their hearts’ content. It makes a very pretty picture.
At 6.7 km we emerge onto a very busy road with lorries whizzing past at great speed. There is a separate shoulder but it is quite narrow and not at all nice walking. My heart sinks when I look at maps.me and see that we will follow this road for more than a kilometre, but after a short while we are directed to cross the road and are back on a dirt track.
I can’t remember where I found the tracks that I uploaded onto maps.me, but they certainly aren’t foolproof. They are provided by people like me, who may have taken a wrong turn or decided to make their own route. Today’s track differed a great deal from the arrows which provided a much better trail. It is important to remember that these uploaded tracks are not infallible – they are useful if you can’t find any arrows or think you may have gone off piste, but they have their limitations.
It has become a beautiful walk on a beautiful day, although as the day progresses it does get very hot. We take a pit stop at just under 12 km, overlooking a large lake and are surprised to see a lonely white flamingo wading in the shallows.
When I set off again I decide to try using my umbrella as there is very little breeze and the sun is very hot. Now that I’ve got the fixings (elastic bungee cords) set up in the correct position it works very well. But even the slightest breeze causes considerable drag – a bit like pulling a parachute from your shoulder. But it does give good protection from the fierce sun and I expect it will earn its keep on this camino.
The track has become a very dusty gravel road passing by what I think is a huge olive oil plant. Vehicles drive by throwing up loads of dust, except for one van which drives by respectfully slowly. As it passes a couple of guys wave out laughing and blowing kisses. Was I bothered by this politically incorrect behaviour? Not one iota! They made me smile and and cheered up what had become a bit of a slog into the city of Baena. Thank you charming jolly spanish guys!
Tonight Nina and I are staying in an albergue ‘Ruta del Califato Baena’ tel 957 670 075, 10 euros. There is a large room with five bunks sleeping ten, one bathroom and no other facilities whatsoever. Only two chairs from which to climb to the top bunks that have no ladders, no kitchen, no lounging area, no outside space, and no love for what they are doing. The total opposite of Peter’s accommodation last night, which was small and cramped and run with exactly the right attitude, including providing us with bread and hot drink this morning and a chunk of bread to see us through the day. Peter is a great guy and should be supported.
This evening I have eaten the best meal of this camino in restaurant ‘El Primero de la Mañana’ in the centre of town. After explaining my diet, the charming host offered me Salmorejo without added eggs and jamon, grilled vegetables and melon, 5*.