Hinojosa del Duque to Monterrubio de la Serena

Today’s journey was 32kms!!! In pilgrim novice/acclimatization/self-care mode I considered the bus. But after some fraternal chiding about advancing beyond the noviciate to seasoned camino walker, considering the “relative” ease with which I had accomplished the previous days, seeing that the day ahead was largely level terrain, and that the last kilometres were alongside a road where I could get a lift if necessary, I decided to give it a go.

I set off early, about 7.30am. I took an extra 1.5 litres of water as a precaution – lose 1 kilo in excess items a few days previously, then add 1.5 kilos in water today!!!

The morning walk was very pleasant, along side fields, blue sky, sunny day, walking alone, enjoying the peace and serenity of the Spanish countryside.

I tracked my Dutch friends, who had walked on ahead.

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This is Rob’s distinctive sandal footprint. I even learned to distinguish Annamarie’s bootprint.

After 11kms, the destination of Monterrubio appeared in clear view on the horizon. I am not sure whether it is clear in the following photo, but it shelters in the middle of the hills in the centre of the photo, easily visible to the naked eye, possibly visible in the photo if you can zoom in.

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Seeing the destination so cleary was a cruel taunt, as it was still 21kms away!!!

I continued the way, enjoying the scenery. The trees were silent sentinels to the passage of the lone pilgrim.

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At 23km I reached the Rio Zjjar. Up to this, I had been able to circumvent creeks and riverlets, passing by on one side or the other, either on banks or stepping stones, but the Zijar demanded more respect. It was off with the boots, string them around my neck, walk across in sandals (to avoid sharp stones), then re-group on the far side.

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Besides, it was past time for “feet time”, so I enjoyed the best part of an hour’s break, re-powdered the feet, and set off again around 2.00pm, with another 9 or more kms to go.

The last part was gruelling. It was 8km along the shoulder of the road, so walking on tarmac, in the heat of the afternoon, with no shade. The guide book noted, insouciantly, “An easy walk into Monterrubbio, with nice views in good weather, though it is gradually uphill all the time and the wind is often in your face.” Here is one part of what that last section looked like ahead of the weary pilgrim!

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Yes, it would have been an “easy walk into Monterrubio”, if it wasn’t for the 28kms that had preceded it. No, it wasn’t “uphill all the time”. It was “up” and “down’ and “up” and “down” and “up”, undulating all the way, gradually rising into the foothill where the town nestled. And any “wind” would have been most welcome as a cooling breeze in the heat of the late afternoon.

I had thought I would be able to hitch a ride if needed, despite my earlier lack of success in this regard on Day 3. While the theory was great, in fact, there were only half a dozen cars which passed in either direction, so the possibilities were very limited.

I had replenished my camel pac with the extra bottle of water at the Rio Zujar. I decided that if and when that water ran out, I would hitch a ride. I had been taking frequent sips, limiting myself to one sip at a time, but it duly ran out some kms along the road. I crossed to the other side and put my thumb up, but there was only one car and it whizzed past. I continued on.

Eventually, I crossed a rise and the outskirts of the town were in sight. I determined that I could reach it. My sentiments were, “I’ll show ’em!” But with much more feeling, more along the lines of, “I’ll bloody well show ’em!!!” Though I am not sure who the “them” is, all the naysayers, the insouciant guide writer, the powers that be, the depleting heat???? I crossed the road back to the left-hand walking side, and continued on.

However, I did decide to ask for help, so I decided to take out my empty water bottle and wave it at any traffic in either way! The first car coming out of the town sped past me, with, as I thought, a look of disdain on the face of the driver – how dare this person walk on my road!! – but that was probably projection of inner feelings of frustration on my part.

The second car coming out of town, a more beat-up, older model car, stopped. The driver leapt out, ran to the back of his car, took out a 10 litre plastic bottle of water, and filled up my empty water bottle. “Gracias! Dios ti benedica!!” (mixture of Spanish/Italian, but very heart-felt!). Another angel on the way! They wished me “bon viaggio” and continued on their way. I continued on my way into the town.

The outskirts were an industrial zone, so no houses or people around. I finally reached a petrol station, walked into the store, and rasped “agua” (“water”). I still had some in my replenished water bottle, but wanted more. It was cold, ice-cold, so I had to take it in slowly. I had a short break, recuperated, then made my way into the centre of the town, to the Hostal Vaticano where I took lodging.

I happened on my Dutch friends, who were also lodged there. They had arrived earlier in the afternoon. They had managed to hitch a ride for the last 4 kms! I felt “righteous” (I had walked; they had a ride), “envious” (I would have relished and certainly taken a ride had the opportunity been given to me), “grateful” and “relieved” to have arrived safely after a long hot day.

Weight, backpack, back, shoulders, feet all OK. No problems. It is the heat that is killing me! The locals are saying the heat is unseasonal. When I arrived in Monterrubio, the temperature was still just over 30. It must have been in the mid-30’s during the day. I was very glad of the extra water that I had brought along, and with the supplementary water that was provided in the last kms.

I see from the weather reports that rain is forecast for Easter. So that will cool things down. But then I will have other challenges to face.

I have completed a 32 km walk in a day. So maybe I am graduating from novice to seasoned camino walker. With this 32kms under my belt today, with a cumulative total of 135kms walked in the past 6 consecutive days, no matter what happens, tomorrow is a REST DAY!!!

I attended the Holy Thursday Mass in the local church, went into the sacristy afterwards, introduced myself to the priest and had my credencial stamped. (I was amused that immediately after the Mass he was in the sacristy smoking a cigarette, something I have not seen in ages!).

A meal followed by a good night’s sleep!

Ultreia (but first, riposo!!!).

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