Another big day! 30 kms! There were 7 walking pilgrims in the albergue at Puerto de Bejar. After breakfast at 6.30 we set off at 7.00. The others are all veteran walkers and were soon way ahead, so I the day on my own. I confess I did feel a bit lonely at times because it was a contrast to the previous two days. I didn’t see anyone at all for the rest of the day, except a couple of people in the villages through which I passed, a few pilgrim cyclists who overtook me, and late in the day, a couple of walking pilgrims whom I had met some days before. But I had miles to go, so didn’t worry about it. The mantra kept me company, and kept me going!!
It was a good day for walking. There was a bit of overcast cloud cover, so not so hot as the previous days. And much of the path was in the countryside, with only a few stretches on the shoulder of the road, and even when it was on the road, it was a small, unused road, not a major artery.
Setting off in the pre-dawn light:
What goes up, must come down! Yesterday we had climbed. Today, first thing, we climbed down the other side into the valley. Here’s the Puente de la Malena (Magdalena), a Roman bridge, over the river.
Having gone down, it was up again, another ascent, up a rocky path:
I arrived at Calzada de Bejar (9.3kms) at 9.30am, having taken two and a half hours. There was a small chapel at the start of the village with a statue of a Jacobean pilgrim above the front door.
Then straight on to Valverde de Valdelacasa. The first half kilometre was on a single file path.
But then widened out onto a straight, dirt road:
I was amused at this gate which I thought left much to the imagination!! Nothing like this at Osterley!!
I arrived at Valdelacasa (another 3.5kms) at 1.00 pm. There was a St James Pilgrim metalwork statue in the grounds of the bar inviting pilgrims to come in and rest and sample their food and beverages!
This town and the previous one were very quiet. I thought it was a Sunday! There was hardly any activity at all. Not even the village dog barked! Most dogs get raucas whenever anyone passes. This one didn’t even lift its head. Maybe it raised its eyebrows as I passed!
Rather than “towns”, they were more like “villages” or “hamlets”. They were almost relics of the past. Some houses were stone walls.
I had lunch, and to those scoffing at my previous post on “Food”, my lunch consisted of an apple and a banana!! I had another 7.8kms to go, so continued on.
I passed through rural scenery. I thought this tree had a large trunk for the bulb of foliage on top! Any ideas on the species?
The road continued on. The cloud cover seemed to be more ahead of me than over me, so it was hot enough. I actually used up my two litre pac, then started on my 1.5 litre bottle in reserve. I was glad when the destination hove into sight.
One of the pilgrims photographed me as I arrived in the town, so I asked him to take a photo on my camera. I put on my happy face, in celebration of having completed 30kms in the day!!
I made my way to the albergue. The local parish priest, Fr Blas, was very pro-pilgrim and very active in relation to them. He was in the albergue when I arrived. He greeted me as a fellow priest – one of the other pilgrims had obviously informed him – and even provided some cheese, salami and salad for me to have a bite to eat. I was also given a room to myself, even though it has a double bunk, and I was happy to accept clerical privilege!!
There was a Mass at 5.00pm in the local parish church. He was the concelebrant, and even though I arrived a few minutes late, he insisted I get vested and concelebrate with him. He was ver welcoming to all the pilgrims, asking from where they had come. He did a liberal interpretation of the reading in Spanish, then asked me to interpret it in English!! So that was quite imaginative on my part!! He gathered the whole congregation around the altar, holding hands, for the Our Father, which each prayed in his own language. He asked me to distribute Holy Communion. After the Eucharist, he gave a special blessing to all the pilgrims. He was very friendly and engaging. It was a good experience for all.
The Church was interesting too, as it had a series of life-size wooden statues in the sanctuary, of several of the apostles, of the Christ, of the Risen Christ, of Mary Magdalen. Here is the statue of St James, the Pilgrim, with a pilgrim following him.
While writing this, I have had a beer, followed by a small meal (two fried eggs, chorizo [sausage], two slices of tomato, bread and a glass of wine). Now I am off to get ready for whatever tomorrow may hold and to have a good night’s sleep.
To the Northwards!!