Don Benito to Santa Amalia

I deliberately had a late start today after the long day and late night before.

After breakfast I enquired about getting a new credencial as my current one is just about filled up. No luck. The most likely is that I will be able to get an additional one in Merida, the meeting point of the Camino Mozarabe with the Via de la Platta, which will supposedly cater to all pilgrim needs.

I managed to re-charge my phone. It had run out on Holy Saturday night, so I was not able to do anything about it on Easter Sunday and Easter Monday – all shops closed, as reported previously. It was a relief to be back in communication again if needed. I also have internet access again, so this afternoon I was able to use the “navigation” facility to check a location, which was very helpful.

Having completed this business, it was after 10.00am before I left Don Bonito. Although the weather was clear, I wore my rain jacket for the morning. Although it has no lining so does not provide any “warmth”, it did cut the wind, which took the edge of it and made it pleasant to walk.

The first destination on my way was Medellin (8kms).

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It has a remarkably well-preserved Castle of Arabic origin on the the hill overlooking the town. It can be seen on the horizon, in the centre of the photo, third hill on the left, just above the highway. The photo also shows the weather, clouds, blue sky, pleasant for walking.

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The name “Medellin” is famous in recent Latin American church history, marking the official confirmation of “liberation theology”, as the following quote shows:
“The Conference of Latin American Bishops was a bishops conference held in 1968 in Medellín, Colombia. In this conference the bishops agreed that the church should take “a preferential option for the poor.” The bishops decided to form Christian “base communities” in which they would teach the poor how to read by using the Bible. The goal of the bishops was to liberate the people from the “institutionalized violence” of poverty. They informed the people that poverty and hunger were preventable.”

You can find more information at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conference_of_Latin_American_Bishops

Medellin, in Spain, is also famous as the birthplace of Henan Cortes, founder of the Mexican city of Veracruz. The locals are obviously proud of their local son, whose statue dominates the town plaza which is named after him.

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He is said to have been baptised in the Church of St Martin, seen in the background to the left of the statue, which even claims to have the baptismal font used on the occasion!

Today I managed to have some lunch, a milk coffee and some ham in a bar on the edge of Medellin, for the total cost of 1 Euro!!!

About 2.00pm I continued on my way to Santa Amalia (7kms). I had previously intended to stay at La Haba, Medellin and then at Santa Amalia, breaking the journey into easy stages. But the extra push to Don Bonito yesterday pushed that agenda forward. So I am now at Santa Amalia, having saved one overnight stay, with two relatively easy stages remaining to Merida.

The walk through the afternoon was OK. I was a bit worried for a while, because I knew I was heading West on a road and then on a track, when the map said I should be heading North. There were very few arrows, but this was the only track, there had been no turns either left or right, and since I had been directed onto it by an arrow, it must be the right path. But it would be nice to have had an arrow as confirmation. The only yellow I saw on rocks was lichen! No arrows. However, after a while, the track turned around the base of a hill and headed North, so I was a bit more confident. That was confirmed when two cyclist pilgrims overtook me and went ahead on that same track. Also, I occasionally noted recent footprints – yesterday’s rain would have washed out older footprints – but I had no idea whose they were or when they passed. Eventually, there was an arrow, followed by further kms of absence.

However, the path did eventually bring me to my destination some time after 4.00pm. As usual, the directions into the town were very imprecise, which is where the navigation on the mobile phone came in handy! Having arrived in the Town Square, the Town Hall (with information for pilgrims) had been open from 9.00am to 2.00pm but was now closed, with no one answering the phone (in Medellin, the Town Hall only opened from 4.00pm to 7.00pm; in Don Benito they didn’t open till 10.00am). I have no idea how town administrations do their business in Spain. They certainly don’t observe pilgrim hours!!!

I rang the local police (another good reason for having a mobile phone re-charged), but no one responded. A local barman pointed me in the direction of a very ritzy looking hostal, which I thought would be above budget. So I founded the local police station, which was deserted. I even rang the bell at a church which I passed, but no answer!

Finally, in desperation, I came back to the ritzy looking hostal in the town square, phoned the number, and made a booking for the night for 25 Euro, which is about what I have been paying in other places. It is full service, bed, linen, towels, en suite, TV, air conditioning, not exactly pilgrim poverty, but I will enjoy it! As I was waiting for the manager to come and open the door, the local police drove past. Had I noticed them in time, I would have stopped them, and might have ended up in much more austere accommodation. God must have wanted me to be here tonight!!!

The only drawback is that there are no washing facilities for clothes, and no drying facilities, which has been the case for the past few days, with accommodation and weather, so in my walking clothes I am beginning to “smell” like a pilgrim!!! Maybe it is a good thing that I travel alone; or maybe it is why I travel alone, others get wind of me and avoid me!!!

Ultreia!!!

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