Fuenterroble de Salvatierra to Pedrosilla de las Aires, Via de la Plata

Via de la Plata Camino – Day 12 (Mérida to Ourense). Monday 2 April 2018. 18 kms.

Attractive frontage with classical Camino signs and images.

I slept in the upper room of the lovely hostel in Fuenterroble and two others joined us three from the crowded dormitory downstairs during the night to avoid the snoring.

Fuenterroble de Salvatierra, Castilla y León.

Breakfast was amazing – an Easter Monday special maybe.

Quince jelly, some sort of delicious home-made fruit jam, bread, coffee etc.

It was a flat walk today through holm oak woods. I started with Marie Noelle but we soon parted company to walk alone.

Long straight paths.

A plane left its noise behind it; there were more pigs. I had decided not to walk a very long way (over 30kms) so I took a right at the Dueño de Abajo when the others went left.

It was a lovely way ending as it began with a cattle grid and land-owner’s sign.

The young cows were orangey-red and they played Grandmothers Footsteps with me: first running away when I walked and then freezing, all in a crowd (about 30 of them), when I turned round.

It was wide open countryside and I spent a great deal of time reviewing my dream of the night before – very powerful.

There was rain coming, judging by the wind and the feel in the air. One becomes attuned to the changes when outside all the time.

The snowy mountains were behind us now but still stunning.

The sound of an engine seemed to be connected to the blunt, cut-off tree stumps – also revealing strong orange at the wounds.

Chaffinches with softer apricot-coloured bellys were swooping, and there were some grey cows wandering, activating their sonorous bells.

Leafy glades in the sunlight.
The amazing orange soil banked up to create a pool, apparently to equalise the water table for when it is hot with no rain.
Pedrosilla, Spain on approach – a hill to climb before arriving!

It was getting cold and wet by the time I arrived at Pedrosilla and I went to the bar, as directed, to indicate the keys to the albergue municipal, the council hostel. It was devoid of any heating, dirty and musty-smelling, so when Benito came along he joined me in the bar where there was wi-fi and warmth.

The excellent (and warm) Bar Laureano.

The family-run bar was excellent. The youngest daughter (of 9!) was there with her mother and various relatives; her sister ran the joint when she was away in Paris working as a TV producer. She cooked a wonderful tortilla for us and chatted away, ‘twenty to the dozen’  as they say, telling us about her life and that of the others. There is no shop in Pedrosilla although there is a mobile one which happened by at the right moment and charged me 6 plus euros for a tub of lettuce, one mandarin and a banana!)

Donkeys in a field nearby – my blog’s namesake.
The municipal hostel (albergue) in Pedrosilla de las Aires, Castilla y León.

Nuria made a long afternoon/evening, in a village which had no any other entertainment, and where the weather was almost entirely terrible, most enjoyable.

Village dwelling, Pedrosilla de las Aires, Castilla y León.
Pink sky at night, shepherd’s delight!
Nuria with her mother: like a hen, spreading out her black cardi in her place at a table of the family business.

Note: Something has gone wrong with my WordPress making it impossible to load photos using the usual method, so some of these are elongated for some reason, and all smaller than usual. For which I apologise.

 

Calzada de Béhar to Fuenterroble de Savatierra, Via de la Plata

1 April, April Fool’s Day and Easter Sunday 2018. Day 11. Via de la Plata Camino, Spain.

There was a good breakfast provided at the communal table, but I had enough of my own and wanted to eat it so it did not need to be carried. Most of the others seemed to be enjoying a good spread. T’ai Chi that morning in the lee of the mountains, with the full moon still strong in the sky, was inspiring.

After a false start when I had to go back for my baton, I made my way through the very ancient village and out into the countryside along what might have been an old railway between pollarded trees – the first I had seen here.

There were cows everywhere: black ones on the left – mum grazing and her newborn calf souking; beige / white on the other. The white snowy mountains were ever present when I looked back, walking happily alone. What a wonderful morning! We walked into the region of Castilla y León.

I watched for a while as the young bovine, on their long spindly legs, geared themselves up to jump across the stream; I admired the bright white ones still with the tufty cord sticking out under their bellys, and all fluffy. I realise now that lots of the females have impressive horns, but in this bullfighting country how was I to know when put on the spot a few days ago?!

I mused on my topic of the last few months: the balance between a solitary and a social life. I set out from Mérida eleven days ago expecting the same quiet experience I had had when walking from Seville the previous May. Instead I found a great camino ‘family’ (as people like to call it) forever changing its members but, warm and supportive. With them around one rarely loses one’s way or dines all alone. On the other hand, there is hardly the chance to meditate in peace; one has to politely refuse company when setting out in the morning if silence is required; and all-in-all it’s profoundly communal and not at all the solitary wandering of the historical pilgrim which I have enjoyed over the past year.

Today’s plant: catkins, at the early spiky stage.

They use natural stone for fence pillars here compared to further down in the valley.

As the morning wears on, the sun shines more brightly and the colours strengthen – water, fields and rocks in stark contrast.

I remind myself that I must stay alert and look for the details of the journey, the arrows. I come across a bridge very similar to one in Kent. Later there is a really helpful, home-made railing to help the hikers across the flooding, but for me the stones are too far apart!

It took me two hours instead of one to get to Valverde de Valdelacasa – I walked slowly, paying attention to touching the the tip of my stick on the ground very gently, taking photos and notes etc. But, then, no, it turned out that I had misunderstood the book. I was not behind-time after all.

My feet were throbbing; the birds were trilling; and alsatians were being walked as I made the long, uphill trek into the village.

Benito was already there, tapping on the window as I went by (I had meant to walk on), and the bar was just opening after what must have been a riotous night.

Oddly there was this colourful bird, curious, in the bar that morning.

If you walk this camino, make sure you go straight on at the roundabout along the road. I was able to change into my shorts as the sun warmed up.

Dead oaks and copious lichen for miles in this landscape – further behind, Spring-wise, than the south.

Here were big black pigs in a very plain enclosure; there, quarries and multiple farm buildings. The land was all beautifully ploughed and ready for sowing.

Initially they ran away. I stood still and they returned, curious, with up to 5 rings per nose.

The paved road was hard on my feet so I lay down on the prickly ground, my back against a rock, and was sung to by cattle and birds and tickled by insects and it smelled sweetly of disturbed earth and nearby flowers. Even a large yellow butterfly flew by me, like an angel.

There was not one car or person on the next stretch although much later a tractor and finally a yellow arrow heralding the near end of my walk.

The entrance to the albergue at Fuenterroble de Salvatierra.

What an amazing albergue. It is a religious community, looking after the flock when the priest is away tending to his seven other parishes. They take great care, the people who live there, some long-term, some shorter; and the food and accommodation is excellent. Particularly as it is a donativo hostel it you pay for what you think it is worth / you can afford.

A little grotto or shrine at the back of the hostel, Fuenterroble de Salvatierra.