Cáceres to Casar de Cáceres (26th March 2018), maybe 18 kms taking me 4 hours plus.
Today I did my morning meditation in a different position because I cannot sit cross legged in my sleeping bag.
Walking out of Cáceres was smooth and I was impressed once again by the enormity and variety of the geology: the giant verticality of colour and strata exposed by road building.
The roadside plants continue to be mainly rosemary and thyme but now with pink vetch. The Camino crosses main routes again and takes me along the highway. It is frustrating because I can see a beautiful path in the fields to my left but cannot get across the fences to it.
There was a brief conversation with a fellow pilgrim along familiar lines – nationality, where walking from and to – this time with an older Belgian man who is wearing a hat with sun flaps over both ears.
The sun was shining brightly but it was cold on my head. I reflect that if you are going to do this walking lark, you must be prepared for some hardship. Having enough money for hotels and being fit definitely helps.
Because of my foot pain, I was already sitting in the sun to rest by at 11.05 after only 25 minutes, but I knew that this must happen if I am to manage to enjoy myself at all. I realised there were snow-covered mountains to my right and was awed by their beauty.
Once again I thought ‘that must be the camino over there, but how do I get onto it?’
The lovely Spanish cyclist and his German friend sped past waving a smiley buen camino to me.
Then I saw a gap, took off my rucksack and rolled under a fence, thinking perhaps I had just missed the turning to the path but no, I had to go back through a farm gate shortly afterwards and continue on the ‘hard shoulder’ which was very tiresome. In the process I put my hand on thistles and still have one spine in the tip of my thumb two days later. Maybe that will teach me!
There was a very nice sun and the remains of yesterday’s wind on my going-bald patch at the front of my head. Bravely I took off the bottoms of my trousers making shorts.
I spotted the new fennel leaves at the base of the old dry stalks and remembered how they were almost past seeding when I finished my first camino in November 2016 in Santiago de Compostella.
It was a long way beside that motorway. But my advice to others who might walk behind me is to wait, the off-road path eventually comes.
There were still some of the dark brown and orange hairy caterpillars: one or two wibbling along over the gravel and some others fairly hurtling amongst the sheep droppings as if they were late for work. However there were nothing like the numbers of two days ago.
Other trekkers passed me occasionally and we fell into step for a while and shared pleasantries. I am trained to see the visual signs of the head-colds or tiredness, the dry lips, the excema under the nostrils, and do not ask questions.
Around me are small brown birds singing their little hearts out. I started thinking about this strange phrase – perhaps it is their puffed out wee chests and the high urgency of the pitch which has prompted it?
Now I was going uphill and was aware of my blister and that was only a tiny climb! I found myself saying blessings for dead animals by the roadside, and I finished planning my workshop for the end of April: the ideas popping into my mind unbidden.
It was very pleasant walking like that, with lots of tiny stops and the time to remember.
I came across a father and son, shepherds bringing up the rear with sturdy sticks but no dog. Overhead are three raptors and almost around my head are swallows flitting and flirting.
Once again I reflect that we walkers go so quietly that we come upon these creatures, or they on us, unexpectedly.
Oh those snowy mountains: simply majestic.
Finally I come into Casar de Cáceres and note the many expensive cars. It is presumably a commuter town for Cáceres itself. There are many helpful people including a woman who I had exchanged a few Spanish words with earlier and who later spotted me looking puzzled. She abandoned the wheelchair she was steering, grasped my arm and took me to the corner of the correct street.
It was long walk into town where I registered at the bar and then, having walked on far too far, retraced my steps to the nice albergue on the first floor in the corner of Plaza España. I arrived at 1.45.
The evening consisted of sitting in the sun with my cups of tea and chatting to the others; a beer in the cafe and very interesting conversation with a German teacher about co-operative learning; shopping (including a plastic mug for 39 céntimos), cooking a meal for myself and some others; giving what I call kitchen- Shiatsu (ie on the spot, me kneeling on the kitchen floor); and later, thoroughly enjoying the wine.
There was no WiFi, the shower flooded onto the floor, I did not enjoy my night-time visit to the toilet where someone had aimed and missed 😦 but it was great to have a kitchen with some utensils, and a free washer and dryer – all unbelievably, for 5 euros.