He who’s down one day can be up the next, unless he really wants to stay in bed, that is
Last night we stayed in El Real de Jara. On our way into town we saw a sign that offered restaurant and rooms with air conditioning and bathrooms with special rates for pilgrims… it sounded great. It wasn’t.
Maybe we’re being harsh but it was a bit of a drag out of town and not on the camino… it was in kind of the industrial part of the village and when we arrived the bar was full and really really bustling. We asked if we could go back behind the bar in the dining room… we sat and enjoyed cokes and shared a few plates of tapas. We made a judgement call and decided this place wasn’t for us… so after we ate we dragged our feet back into town.
Maggie has been feeling under the weather and her blisters are troubling her so she wanted, if possible, a hostel where she could sleep in and then take a cab to our next stop. So we bagged a room for four in a private hostel in town.
Anna and Steff (who so looks like the farmer from the film Babe… I so want to say “that’ll do pig” whenever I see him… or even baa-ram-ewe… probably better to keep all of that to myself though). We’ve been crossing paths since day one. They are from Belgium and speak Flemish, French, German, English and Spanish! And they are really well travelled and spend one week a year helping at the municipal albergue in Los Arcos. .. I’m pretty much in awe of them actually… so it was good to see them there.
The owner showed us the facilities… one toilet and shower between us all BUT in the event of an emergency we could use his bathroom… I really wanted to ask how urgent did it have to be before we made that choice… the other two did as well so we giggled like school girls as we made ourselves comfortable.
Showers and washing and then rest. We wanted to explore the castle on the hill and our hearts were willing but our feet said no… maybe after dinner? (We didnt).
We ate opposite the church. We joined the guys from Bordeaux, a lone Italian (with a great smile), our friends from Belgium and Ted. We chatted mostly in French and English as most of us all spoke some of both. The church bells would peel every 15 minutes so conversation had to stop each time… we’d all pause and smile in silence until they stopped… then carry on as nothing had happened. The food was good as was the company.
The bed was quite hard… it was better if you slept on either edge as there was a kind of ridge going down the middle but we woke at 6.15 refreshed and made ready for the day.
Maggie sent me this overnight… I didn’t want to ask why… I just hope I never embarrassed myself in my slumber! Or maybe it was just her own admission!
Branden and I set off after arranging where and when we’d all meet. We went about .5km back into town looking for the breakfast bar only to be told it was near where we’d come from… ouch! We found it…and watched the news in Spanish about another mass shooting in the US? We munched on a slab of toast washed down with hot coffee… then we hit the road.
We walked past the castle.. we’ll never know it’s history (unless a kind reader can tell us). A few minutes further on we came to another castle… sadly we know nothing of this one either. But the sun was coming up and the sky turned orange and pink and we followed the arrows into Extremadura.
The fields around us are full of black oaks and animals.. cows, sheep, goats and a sleeping dog. There was a slight nip in the air and the cool morning allowed us to make a good pace.
We stopped for a sock break but we were interupted by a farmer. It took a second to understand that he wanted us to move… a bit grumpy of him I thought… we’re just sat on the side of the road. Then we saw the herd of cattle heading up the lane and we understood… we moved pretty quick.
I was very brave… for me. I stood about 10 metres behind the farmer and filmed the entire process. There are a couple of hiccups in the film when I panicked everso slightly… but on the whole I was calm. It was actually pretty cool.
So onwards we went and before we knew it we’d hit the motorway and a luxury for us on the Via… a lunch stop!
It’s Sunday and I had no food or snacks so I bought some nuts and mixed dried fruit from the shop… and sampled some tastier morsels of ham. For lunch we chose two tapas (Russian salad and tortilla patata)… they were huge! Maybe he thought that we were hungry pilgrims and deserved it? We took the bread for later and left most of the tortilla.
Outside there was a man selling fresh fruit… so I bought an orange and 2 bananas (one for Maggie) then I saw dried pineapple… oh lord then dried banana chips too. Then I put my pack back on. Mmm I thought, that feels heavier.
On we walked… the sun was back and we walked between the road and the motorway. Gosh my back moaned at me… my pack was sooo much heavier. After a while we stopped and had a drink… the sun and the full belly was really sapping my strength and the weight in my pack was crazy.
As we walked along I berated myself for being so crazy. Lesson learned. Take what you need Colleen and not what you want. At the next stop I gave away what I could to passing pilgrims… Branden took the bananas in her pack… we fed the birds with the bread and my pack felt better when it went back on.
But the damage had been done and I was tired. We had skipped into that service station like happy innocent little pilgrims… we ate too much and we bought too much and we paid for that as we walked up the hills… up and up relentlessly under a hot Spanish sun to Monasterio… where I am resolved to go through my pack and keep only what I need.
Maggie had booked us into a small hotel … the paroquial albergue we’d set our hearts on was closed on Sunday. No matter as our little hearts skipped a beat when we realised we had arrived in town 3km sooner that we thought.
Ham is really important here… we thought we might visit the ham museum but sadly it was closed. We did visit the petrol station and buy cold drinks… and oh I really did need that coke!
We met Maggie and Ted outside the hotel… I have a single room. I screamed like a girl when I turned on the shower and it’s jaunty angle sent a powerful cold spray out over me and the bathroom. .. but it was fabulous… and I treated myself and used all of the shower gel and shampoo they provided.
I’ve sorted the wheat from the chaff in my pack, my clothes are in the washing machine (thanks to Maggie) and now I’m ready to see what the town has to offer.
In the bar I’m now sat they are playing Einaudi… that reminds mr of home and how much I need them too.
Thank you for the info about the trees… if you have any other useful information I’m always happy to receive it.
I promise to get names and details of restaurants and hostels soon… I’m only being a bit lazy right now.
And do send me a quote or a poem… they make me happy 🙂