An easy walk today through mostly flat land. The first part of the day was through irrigated fields, so was naturally very flat. Here’s a view of what was ahead mid-morning, the small town of Torrefresneda, 9km distant from Santa Amalia. When I took this photo, I had already been walking a couple of hours. You can also see, painted on the back of the stop sign, one of the arrows which directed my path. They seem to be few and far between here, but the track is usually the only one possible, so it is quite clear where one is to go.
I continued straight through the town onto my day’s destination, San Pedro de Merida, another 9kms further on. It was again through flat land, some fields, some orchards. Here is a view of the afternoon’s horizon.
The weather was clear, as the darker clouds threatening on the far horizon blew away. If you zoom in towards the centre of the photo, you can see the houses of San Pedro di Merida in the lee of the hills, thought the part of the town I entered and where I am staying is hidden behind the rise in front of the housing visible on the hillside.
The afternoon’s camino path was a bit boring, being the tarmac service road running alongside the motorway. But at least there was some distance from the traffic barrelling past, which is not the case when the pilgrim has to walk along the left shoulder of the actual highway.
When I arrived in San Pedro de Merida, i found the albergue but was told to go to the Ayuntiamento (Town Hall) for information. I went there and they told me the albergue was closed!! I am not having much luck with accommodation!
However, they did assure me there were two hostals. So I am now esconced in one of them. Very comfortable! I actually have two beds, which is most convenient, one for spreading out my backpack and belongings, the other for sleeping, plus all the usual facilities, sheets (so I don’t have to use my sleeping bag), towels (so I don’t have to use – and dry – my own), TV, ensuite. So I am having luck with accommodation after all! Even though the budget is being squeezed!!! I will miss all this luxury when I have to settle for the more austere pilgrim albergues which will become more common after today!!
A couple of great features about this particular hostal room. Others have been on the first floor, with stairs to climb, a bit of an effort at the end of a day of walking. After the 32km day, when I was struggling up the steps, the manager even offered to take me by the hand. I declined. I would have preferred he had offered to carry the backpack!! This particular hostal room was on the ground floor, first time I have ever experienced that. It is actually a sort of motel, catering to traffic on the motorway, with meals and a place to stay, as well as servicing the local town.
The second great feature about this particular hostal room is that it has a window! Some other hostal rooms in which I have stayed have not had windows. What’s so great about a window, you ask? Answer: it’s a place to dry clothes!! So with the clear weather today, a handbasin in which to wash, and a nor’west facing window in which to dry, I have been able to do the first significant wash for days!!! For reasons of personal hygiene, I had actually washed u’pants and socks yesterday, but I had no window, so although they hung overnight in my room, they didn’t dry. I actually hung them outside my backpack today while I was walking, so they dried in the sun. Maybe not a good look, but at least I had something clean and dry to put on when I arrived and changed clothes. However, with the facilities of this hostal room, I have now been able to wash my walking clothes for the first time in days, partly due to the wet weather, partly due to the lack of facilities, so for tomorrow I will have a clean start for the first time in days!!
And I got my first blister, not on my feet, but on the inside of my thumb, from wringing out the newly washed clothes as tightly as I could squeeze, so that they would dry easier!
18 (or 19) kms completed today in five hours, so managing to build the pace.
15 (or 16) kms to Merida tomorrow.
P.S. When I went to the bar in Santa Amalia this morning to return the key to the hostal room and to have breakfast (milk coffee and toasted bread roll with jam), the manager of the hostal took my order. Then he pushed a plastic bag across the counter which contained a bread roll with ham, an apple and a banana, for my lunch. After I had eaten breakfast I asked for the bill, but he waved his hands to say that I owed nothing, that the breakfast (and the lunch) was his contribution to my pilgrim journey. Muchos gracias!!!
When I had checked in the previous day I had thought he was a bit surly – maybe my phone call had woken him from his siesta – but this morning he more than made up for it and proved himself to be an “angel”. I actually took my lunch in the dining room of the hostal here in San Pedro de Merida as my main meal of the day, and will eat the lunch provided in Santa Amalia as my light snack for the night. I am hoping that having the main meal at midday will mean getting an earlier night, a good sleep and an earlier start to the day.