Alcala la Real to Alcaudete

Today’s stage was 24 kilometre, but mindful of the difficulties I had faced on the previous long walking day, and encouraged by Tony Leon’s advice to be prudent (Thanks, Tony), I caught the early morning bus to Ventas de Carrizal and walked from there. The bus ride took 14 kms off my walk, gave me 10 kms to walk (which is a good target for a novice in the first week), and kept my forward momentum to Santiago!

I found this walk today “doable”. The long one walking day previous to my rest day had definitely not been “doable” – hence the god-sent driver who gave me a ride. Today it was a god-sent bus driver who got me on my way. And the rest day in between made a great difference too.

The sun is shining. The sky is blue. The birds are singing. The wild flowers are blooming. It is a beautiful walk. A little bit hot if anything, so I appreciate walking in the shade when I can. Pleasant landscapes around, often walking through olive orchards. Mountains along the horizon (glad I am not walking up and down over them!). The terrain was fairly level most of the way, with some undulations that added a bit of a challenge.

Walking is still an effort, and no doubt will continue to be right through to the end. Carrying a pack is not a pleasant stroll in the park! I try not to get “hostile” towards my pack, thinking of it as a “beast”, because then it is I who become the beast of burden, carrying the load! I try rather to think of it as my “friend”, providing all my needs, clothing, water pack, sleeping bag, communication equipment, hygiene and so on. So the walking is still an effort, especially on the inclines, but for me today, the terrain and the length were just right.

To encourage myself, I remind myself that I am walking through the Cathedral of nature that God created for us. And that is a consoling thought.

I caught the bus at 8.30 am. I started walking at 9.30 am. I arrived on the outskirts of Alcaudete at 12.30 pm. So all in all, quite a good effort. If anything, picked up a little bit of speed on the first two days.

My good plans became a bit undone at the destination, as I ended up spending a couple of hours walking around the town finding accommodation. The Town Hall (at the far end of the town) directed me to a sports stadium (which involved backtracking), but the person there told me it was not open for pilgrims until 10.00 at night (I wasn’t prepared to wait that long, and besides, was not comfortable being totally alone in such an isolated place). A bit weary from criss-crossing the town, I eventually settled for a hostel-restaurant, not exactly pilgrim primitive, but at least I was off the streets, washed my clothes, had a shower, am doing my blog, and have made advance preparations for the morning. I will have to be more intentional on my arrival at destination in future, as no point in undoing the otherwise good planning for the earlier part of the day!

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