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Hello from Zafra

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Hi to all my forum friends.

I have now been walking for six days and today am in Zafra. It's a wonderful walk, but I have been surprised by the numbers of people. The albergues are very full, usually there are some who have to go to hostales or pensiones who had hoped to stay in the albergue. But the weather has been great, the scenery also. I am watching someone else's ipod recharge on the computer here in Zafra's public library, so I have a few minutes to give some random observations.

Day 1 -- Sevilla to Guillena. A visit to the Roman ruins at Italica is definitely worth a stop, I remember that it's Trajan's birthplace, but there are two other Roman emperors who were born there as well. Entry is free with an EU passport, but the 1.5 E charge is very reasonable. I spent an hour and a half there, met my first pilgrims in the amphitheater, and was able to make it to Guillena in early afternoon. Sevilla to Italica is all road walking, but after that, there are many kms of nice agricultural tracks and lots of activity going on -- picking asparagus, working in the fields, etc. The albergue in Guillena now has a room with ten beds (5 bunks) and a couple of showers and toilets. They are building an albergue on top of the bar next to the albergue. Food at the Portugal is very good.

Day 2 -- Guillena to Castilblanco. Wow, walking through lots of fincas/cortijos or whatever you call these big grazing estates. I was 3 feet from a bull (not a cow with horns but a real bull whose anatomy was pointed out to me so I would believe it). Only about 4 km of road walking at the end, it was a very nice walk. The albergue has about 20 beds and was full very early in the day. There's a guy who lives in the single house behind the albergue who apparently comes every afternoon to pick the Euro bills out of the strong box, so I would recommend not putting money there but waiting till the hospitalera comes in the evening. There was a big to-do when I was there because the everyday thief hooked up with a pilgrim thief and they were caught in flagrante. The cops came, took the pilgrim away somewhere and life went on.

Day 3 -- Castilblanco to Almaden de la Plata. A long 30 km day, but after the first 16 on the side of the road, it's really heaven. This was a walk through what is now a nature preserve, it was just great. The albergue in Almaden is big, has room for more than 60 I think, so we didn't fill it up. Not too much going on there, though.

Day 4 -- Almaden to Monesterio. This was a slog, a 35 km day that was just too long. The problem is that you have to choose, either 16 km to Real de la Jara, or 35 to Monesterio. Since I arrived in Real de la Jara, had a long coffee break and then looked at my watch to see it was only 11 am, I decided to continue. The weather cooperated, luckily, cloudy the whole way, and cool temperatures. But in the hot sun this would be a killer. The route from Real de la Jara was recently taken off road, I was told, and it was very pleasant -- all through farms (I felt like Old MacDonald since I saw every farm animal imaginable) and stone walled growing areas. It was really nice. Monesterio, the "ham capital of Spain" (or is it the ham capital of the world?) is kind of a, well, dump. No albergue, so the several creepy hostales get all the business. Some appear to be better than others. Those who stayed in teh pension del Pilar were quite happy, those in the Hotel Moya less so, and those (including me) in the Hostal Extremadura thought it was awful. There is a new hotel on the edge of town, leaving, a two star Hotel Leo, which was probably not too expensive. My single room in the Extremadura had hot water (others' didn't) and sheets that looked like they were probably clean, but hey it was only 12 E.

I'm going to send this since it's getting long and I don't want to lose it. More to come, Laurie
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Day 5 -- Monesterio to Fuente de Cantos. Though it had rained all night, and I mean all night, there was no rain during the day when we walked. Actually, we had had at least three or four days of night rain, but somehow we really lucked out and have not had a drop fall on us while we have been walking. But, the price you have to pay is that all those little arroyos have become raging rivers (well, that's maybe an overstatement), but I have had my share of high adrenaline moments. There have been at least four places where we had to take off our boots and just plunge ahead. My walking sticks served me very well, especially when the water reached my knees and the current was a bit swift. But I am really not a very brave person, so if I made it, everyone can make it. Anyway, the albergues in Extremadura seem to be run by the Junta, and the two I've been in so far have both been in old monasteries. Fuente de Cantos (birthplace of Zuburan, a contemporary painter of Velazquez) has a pretty nice set up. SEveral big commons rooms, modern bathrooms, and small sleeping rooms, two bunks to a room. The town itself is small and pretty, looks more andaluz than anything else, with long streets with one story white houses.

Day 6 -- Fuente de Cantos to Zafra. Well, here I am in the "little Sevilla." No intent to insult Zafra here, but calling it the "little Sevilla" is kind of like calling Decatur the "little Chicago." It has a castle with a parador, and a couple of very nice squares, but it's no Sevilla. The walk is very pleasant, though I missed an arrow and wound up having to ford yet another stream -- it was either that or go back a few kms, and hey, the cold water is good for your feet.

All in all, I have to say how very impressed I am that they have found some way to keep us off the highway. Aside from the 16 kms on a secondary highway after Castilblanco, the camino is off road. It's great!

Hospitaleros are telling us that the crowds are unprecedented, I would say that there are probably 30-35 of us coming into towns every day, with 15 or so staying in pensiones. I haven't met everyone but there are a lot more Spaniards than I remember on other caminos (probably between 1/3 to 1/2 are Spaniards). I've met Italians, Irish, Germans, Dutch, Austrian, and I am the only one from the US so far. But this is a great time of year to walk, the weather has been terrific, and the flowers, as Mermaidlilli told me, are beautiful!

I will try to get back in touch, the next time my friend wants to charge his Ipod, I guess! Abrazos, Laurie
 

Aldernath

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdlP 2009, Le Puy & Norte 2011, Arles 2013, VF 2015, Kumano Kodo 2016
I will be following in your footsteps about three weeks behind, Laurie. It's great to have such up-to-date practical information about the first few stages of the VdlP. Enjoy it all.

http://aldernath.blogspot.com/
 

Javier Martin

Veteran Member
Hello Laurie,

you are now in the same point where we were in march protesting against the planned Refinery. Possibly you will see in the next walking day several advertisements about, between Santos de Maimona and Villafranca de los Barros.

Buen Camino, enjoy your VDLP

Javier Martin
Madrid, Spain.
 

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