Today’s distance 19 km
Elevation gain 123 m
Elevation loss 166 m
Total distance from Almería 544 km
To have a private room with all the facilities of a well planned albergue is indeed a privilege. Normally in private accommodation there are no facilities – nowhere to wash or hang your clothes, nowhere to prepare or cook food.
If you are walking this route you will find that there is not much signage once you leave the town. The main road out has been recently resurfaced with shiny new asphalt and maybe some marks have been lost. But be aware. you need to take the right fork shortly after leaving town onto a minor road. There is a granite marker at the entrance to this side road but at the time of speaking no arrows to indicate the way.
The majority of today’s walk was on this very quiet road with no shoulder at all but also with very little traffic on a Saturday morning, other than an occasional tractor (no more tractor jokes!). We are back walking between olive groves for a few km and then progressing to crop fields studded with oaks.
For the last few stages there have been seven of us walking the same distances. Two French guys, Margaret from Australia and we four. Today I am pleased to be walking on the road. My left foot has been giving me a little discomfort for a couple of days – I think I must have twisted it whilst walking on stony ground and I probably have a bit of a strain. Marilyn immediately delved into her ‘Mary Poppins bag of everything you could ever need’ and generously gave me a medicated pad which certainly helped get me walking straight, with further assistance from a painkiller.
Nina and I took a rest at 12 km by a pond and again we spied some turtles sunning themselves on the bank.
The colours and profusion of the flowers in the fields are spectacular, the red of the poppies, white daisies, the sunniest yellow sea asters, and purple of the hemp broomrape – I have so many photos, but still feel the urge to take more. We have also passed many new plantings of olive groves, so there must be good money to be made from them.
At around 14 km the road turns into a wide sandy track so we had a little relief from walking on the road although to be honest I’m not sorry it has been a day of flat even walking because it made for an easier passage for my poorly foot.
At 17.5 km we join with the road that leads into Castuera and this lively town has thrown a party for us. El Dia del Queso. There are street bars, a stage with huge speakers, ladies dressed up in their best parading outfits and children in dance costumes. Lots of tents surround the church square all offering tastings of the local cheese.
We are informed that the Policia Local, with whom we have to register and pick up the key to the albergue, are busy on fiesta duty and cannot attend to us until whenever they feel like it. It is no great hardship to take a seat at a bar and drink a couple of beers whilst we wait.
The albergue here is superb. The pinnacle of albergue design. Two large rooms each with two sets of bunks, a substantial kitchen and dining area, and two state of the art bathrooms, add to the mix two separate terrace areas and we are in pilgrim heaven.
As we are five peregrinas and only two hombres, we ladies opt to take one room and remove the top bunk mattresses to the floor – none of us needs to climb up to a top bunk if it isn’t necessary. We bring a fifth mattress from the other room and so we are three on the floor and two on bottom bunks – lucky it’s a big room! Contact Policia Local 0034 924 772 350, 8 euros including sheets and quilt. Thank you Castuera.
I have taken advantage of the facilities and cooked up a pot of chickpea/spinach goodness (much nicer than it sounds) and the others are working on a pasta dish. I’m not sure how I will cope with food in the coming days so wanted to make sure I fuelled up tonight.
Tomorrow we depart from the camino Mozárabe as it is best known, and are taking the variant through Trujillo – a very little walked route, and it will be good to cover some new ground after retracing my steps for a week or so.
A new adventure awaits…