An easy stage today, only 19 kms (just under half way to Campanario, which would have been 39kms!!!). At breakfast, there were three other pilgrims who must have walked in to Monterrubio the day before, a Spanish man and an Austrian couple.
I set off about 7.30am. The forecast was rain!
As you can see, it was overcast, a complete contrast to the previous days’ walking!! It was quite cool, no burning sunshine to sap the energy, so it was actually a good day for walking. However, the road itself was a bit boring. Walking along the shoulder of an old asphalt road – the guide book said: “Keep Straight On, ignoring turnings (very little traffic) for 15 kms.” It was fairly level terrain, so quite an easy walk, though the hard surface probably was a bit tough on the joints!
When I set out, there were dark clouds ahead of me, so I thought I was heading into the forecast rain. I kept pushing on, reckoning that if it was going to rain, it was better to be at my destination than on the way. I noted that the hills to either side were covered in mist, but as the day went on, the clouds directly ahead lightened up or were blown away.
The rain held off for the duration of my walk, so I did not have that problem. But I still managed to get myself wet! As I neared the town, there was a smooth cement culvert with a little bit of water in it, maybe a metre or more wide, but very shallow, no more than a centimetre or two, with a slight current in the middle. As I stepped into the water, my foot went straight out from under me, slipping on the moss that was on the bottom, and I was on my bottom in the water!!! Fortunately, no damage down. All I suffered was a bruised ego. I have a couple of minor abrasion holes in the right elbow of my T-shirt as a memento of the encounter and a reminder to be more careful in future.
It seems I haven’t quite learnt the lesson yet, as later in the day I had another slip in the shower in the hotel, and again emerged unscathed, having been lowered gently to the floor in the shower curtain!!
I arrived at Castuera some time after 11.00am, so not a bad pace for the morning. I had determined to stay here, so set about looking for a place to stay. I contacted the local police who informed me that the albergue was not functioning.
He recommended a hotel at the top of the town, but when I arrived there, I was informed it was full. There were no rooms available.
They recommended another hotel some kilometres away, which I thought was a long, inconvenient walk, so I considered other possibilities.
My guide book mentioned a hotel in the centre of the town, which I thought more convenient. I tracked it down, only to find it was no longer functioning.
I thought, “This can’t be happening. This is Easter. It’s Christmas when ‘there’s no room in the inn’!!”
A nearby shop contacted the other, further hotel for me and confirmed that there was a room. But it was 3 kms away! I set off. I was heartened that it was in the direction that I would have to follow out of the town to continue the camino when I leave. So that was a good thing. But it turned out the hotel was actually a kilometre beyond the camino trail, so that is a kilometre that I will have to backtrack when I leave, adding another km to that day’s 20km target!!! The other issue was that each of the 3 kms that I walked towards the hotel was taking me away from the centre of the town, to which I will have to return for the Easter Mass!!!
I eventually arrived at the hotel, situated 1 km outside the outskirts of the town, in a bit of an industrial development, but with no residences, and was provided a room. There was a place in the inn after all! To my surprise, the rates were reasonable. I had feared it was a “resort” sort of place for tourists and would be very exorbitant. However, it is more or less what I have been paying elsewhere. I was glad to have a place.
I am currently enjoying a meal in the restaurant, making the most of the “eat as much as you can” menu that is on offer (I settled for lamb, as I thought that appropriate to the liturgical season!). I will go back into the town in the late afternoon/early evening. I will attend the Easter Service at 10.30 pm. Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem, so I will ride a taxi back to the hotel tonight!
As for the morrow, there’s not much point in staying this far out of town where there is nothing to see, so if the weather holds off – forecast is for light rain – I might even continue walking. I will decide in the morning.
I take this opportunity to wish you and your families every blessing of Easter. May the risen Christ shine his light and love and life into our hearts, minds and relationships so that we can be transforming agents of God’s coming Kingdom. Allelulia! Allelulia! Allelulia!