I set off in the morning, on the way down from Moclin.
When I arrived at the river at the bottom, there were no arrows to guide the way! Fortunately, there was another pilgrim ahead of me, who had passed me on the way down. Unfortunately, he too was lost. Fortunately, we were able to compare guide books. Unfortunately, his was even older than mine. Fortunately, he was a veteran of 6 caminos and was confident of the right direction. Unfortunately, he was wrong. Fortunately, I was able to provide him with proof, using my compass (thanks for that very practical suggestion, Deirdre). Fortunately, we were able to get back on the way without too much difficulty. I let my co-pilgrim go ahead as he was a much faster walker, and I took my own easy pace.
However, as the morning went on, I found the going tougher and tougher. It was not the way as such, which was relatively slight incline, but I think the mountain the day before had taken more out of me than I had been aware. Before leaving Australia I had been advised, “Listen to your body”. So I listened to it, and it said, “I can’t do the distance today”. So I decided to hitch a ride from where the camino crossed the main road. Unfortunately, none of the drivers were listening to my body as attentively as I was!
After an hour standing at the intersection without any lift, I decided that the only thing was to show some earnest. So I pulled on my pack again and walked the next section. The road wended its way around a hill. The pilgrim way went over the hill and along the other side till it met up with the road again. I had had an hour’s rest, so the walking was now somewhat better. The uphill was an effort, but the gentle slope along a shaded lane down the other side was relatively easy. But with the hour’s delay, I knew it would be difficult to reach the evening’s destination.
So when I cam to the main road again, I decided to try hitching again. I had put in my bit. I thought it was time for some intervention!! As I came to the intersection, one car sped past. I put up my thumb and the next car pulled over. It was meant to be!! Gracias a Dios!!! The driver took me to Alcala la Real, his home town and my destination. I was very, very glad and relieved to find a hotel and a bed for the night. I decided the next day will be a rest day. Also, I recognise that I am not yet ready for the long haul stages that occur in this part of the camino, so will have to plan accordingly.
As I came down from my room, my pilgrim companion of the morning was in the bar and welcomed me. He had had a long day of it too, having been lost for a while in the afternoon. Like me, he was glad to have arrived at destination.
It was Saturday evening, so I attended an evening Mass. One advisor said Mass would be at 8.00 pm. A parishioner communicated that it would be at 8.30 pm. Eventually, it was Rosary at 8.30 and the Vigil Mass did not start until 9.00 pm! So it was a late night.
I am very glad of the rest day today!!!
I slept late, got up, hung clothes on the balcony to dry, and visited the Castle overlooking the town.
View of Alcala la Real from the Fortaleza. Moclin is located on the right hand peak of the valley in the far middle of the picture, with snow capped mountains in the further distance.
My God-sent driver who had picked me up the previous evening had told me (my Spanish is virtually zero, but with some broken Italian thrown in, I can get some of the basics), that historically this area is the border area between Christian Spain to the north and Muslim Spain to the south. He pointed out the remains of Christian and Muslim watch towers, which used fire at night and smoke my day to warn of the advance of enemies. My visit to the castle confirmed this. It has ancient settlement, Muslim settlement and Christian settlement. I cannot help but suspect there is an air of Christian superiority, mixed with some anti-Muslim sentiment, and was surprised at how “current” these historical matters seemed to be in the mind and feelings of the people. No doubt, I will find out more as I go along.