Today’s distance 25 km
Elevation gain 176 m
Elevation loss 215 m
Total distance from Almería 604 km
The distance shown on the elevation profile is wrong. From Magacela to Rena was 25 km (I forgot to turn off my recording when we reached the Rena)
And so, the new adventure begins. We walk in the opposite direction to the camino Mozárabe, on the road for a short while and then onto wide gravel track. It’s a beautiful day with rolling landscape and a few herds of sheep. We pass some hombres working on the cemetery wall and they try to tell us we’re going the wrong way.
The tracks are arrow straight with a few ups and downs but very little elevation. We are able to see both where we are going and where we have come from.
The sun is already very hot by 9 am and we are both glowing by the time we reach Villanueva de la Serena at 10 am, having walked 11.6 km. This is a town of two halves – as we enter there are lots of new housing projects, very smart and well laid out. We stop for a drink and I order a tostada con tomate and it arrives for the first time on this trip with a clove of peeled garlic to rub on the bread. The town is substantial and we pop into a Coviran supermarket for supplies, but I can’t find anything that inspires me and leave empty handed. But as we leave town, joy of joys I see a Mercadona and virtually skip through the door to collect my goodies – seeded rolls, hummus, cherry tomatoes, blueberries and a couple of mandarins. All a girl could possibly want!
The exit from Villanueva has much older, more traditional buildings – it’s a large, bustling town. Our exit is interrupted by roadworks that have cut off our route, but we find our way around it, out of the town and onto another track.
Thus far we couldn’t have followed this route without the track embedded on Maps.me. There are a few directions, but very few and far between.
I decide it is time to contact the mayor of the town we are headed for, to arrange our accommodation for the night. I am forewarned that it is far from luxurious. I speak to Señor Domingo the Alcalde explaining we are two peregrinas wishing to use their accommodation and he replies with such speed and a strong dialect that I can’t understand a word – but get the impression the answer is ‘no’. This concerns me as there are no alternatives. I put in a plea for help on the ‘Camino Mozárabe por Trujillo’ facebook page and get a fairly instant and very helpful response from Jose Antonio who runs the group. He phones Señor Domingo and establishes that we can indeed use the pabellón (village pavilion), but there are no facilities other than a wc. No mattresses or mats, and it doesn’t open until 5 pm.
So we walked on – more gravel tracks, then onto the Via Verde (old railway track) over the river Guadiana and looked down on neat plantations of trees of unknown variety. We eventually emerged onto a quite busy road that leads towards the very small village of Rena and walked along the edge of more plantations, and discovered that the trees were nectarines and peaches.
We were very pleased to find a bar at the edge of the town ‘La Huerta’. The barman was very charming, although when we asked he couldn’t help us with any alternative accommodation. We told him we needed to wait a long time to access the pabellon and he invited us to stay as long as we needed and we could eat our own food at his tables. As time rolled on serious doubts crept in. We needed to be forty years younger to be sleeping on the floor without any mattress. Eventually Marilyn suggested we get a taxi back to Villanueva and stay in a hotel, which is where I am writing this.
There then ensued the dilemma of how to handle the following stages. The end of the next stage involved similar accommodation ’a warehouse with toilet’ equally unsuitable for anyone in their mid sixties. I investigated taxiing back to where we left off and walking the next stage, followed by a taxi ride to the nearest accommodation around 10 km away. But it wasn’t obvious that we would be able to get a taxi from one remote village to another. In the end we decided to skip the two stages into Trujillo and stay an extra night there. We are hoping that the info shown at the bus station is correct and we can jump on a bus at 09:00 and rest our feet for a day. Marilyn has a couple of blisters and my left foot is still very sore until it warms up.
The walking is no problem whatsoever, it is just that this camino doesn’t yet have the infrastructure to support those who are not prepared to really rough it. So there we are, stage hoppers, bus bitches! But we’re not taking beds from deserving pilgrims and we will be back on the road in a couple of days. And I’ve still got four and a half weeks to walk before I’m finished.