After the last village at Noheda there were a few kms on a busy stretch of the N-320 with cars whizzing past at tremendous speed. We were glad to get off the shoulder onto another track. But our pleasure was very short-lived. This track proved to be of the very sticky clay variety that instantly clung to our boots. We tried walking on the sparse shrubs that lined the track, but they kept disappearing and the mud was thickening on our boots. We decided that we couldn’t bear to trudge over another 5 km of this stuff and crossed a crop field to regain access to the N-320.
At the exact point that we reached the road the Spanish pilgrims that we had lost sight of a week or so ago were walking along the road with pristine clean boots. They had sensibly taken the road for the whole stage on the good advice of Luis from the albergue in Cuenca. We were a bit miffed that we hadn’t received similar good advice.
We reached our destination and found the Bar Goyo to collect the keys for the albergue. The bar was rammed to the gunnels with locals out for an Easter Saturday drink and tapas. The noise was something to behold. Way above the acceptable safety level for healthy hearing. We stayed for a drink and then continued to the albergue. As expected it was very small and rather damp and had been left in a very dishevelled condition by the previous occupants – beds left with rumpled bedding in situ, no attempt to make good their mess. What bad form! There are two bunks in very close proximity and a very basic shower/lavatory.
When the spanish guys arrived they told us of a feast at the end of town being presented to neighbouring villagers. We were all invited. The alcalde welcomed us and offered us a wonderful array of food. All types of meat, apparently from local animals, rabbit, lamb and pork. And luckily for me a very nice bowl of salad and the best bread I have tasted in a long time. All washed down with beer and wine. Such a nice welcome at the end of a camino stage.
We returned to the Bar Goya to warm up. It is the most lively, noisy, buzzy bar I have ever entered. Packed with happy people, playing cards and other games, laughing, drinking and eating delicious tapas. We get the impression that this is a very happy town. We sampled their local drink which tasted a bit like anis. Sadly there is no shop and I have completely demolished every edible item in my pack, so the first 12.5 km of tomorrow’s stage will be walked on fresh air!
We were lucky that the day was dry, but it has now rained again so the tracks will remain hard to walk. Our friends Javier and Pablo advise taking the road again tomorrow. We shall see what the new day brings.
We have seen many protest signs hanging from the windows of local houses. Apparently complaining about the practice of intensive pig farming. The official banner says…”for a sustainable livestock that preserves our environment”. And the hand written one…”you take the water and leave us the sh*t”. Heartfelt sentiments and I wish them luck with their endeavours.