30th March 2018.
Leaving Galisteo was a long process. I attempted to follow my book and ended up taking a yellow arrow which was a red herring!
It was a beautiful morning, but after a steep descent followed by the re-climbing process, an hour later I was back where I started. So, if you stay at the Pension El Parador, remember you are already on the Camino and only need to take a left out of the front door, walk across the Roman Bridge, go straight across at the first roundabout, right at the second and you are off!
What a very hard day it became – 11 hours on the road, including two mistaken detours.
I walked along a road with no pavement for ages until I got to Carcaboso where I happily stopped at a bar and sat in the sun with my cortado (a sort of cappuchino).
Then I took the recommended right fork. I could see inviting-looking countryside to my right and left, but I was on the road. Still. With very poor signposting. I did enjoy the toads jumping into a brook and today’s flower – what I think is the field lupin.
Then an old man stopped his car for a chat and told me that, no Carcaboso was ahead! I had actually just passed through Aldehuala del Jerte (Jerte is the name of the river).
When I did get into Carcaboso it was obvious!
I followed the Way past the Iglesia de Santiago and a tiny sign on the wall showing left. It seemed to be a dead-end but, if you are going to do this after me (while the road works are there), do keep going, following the odd indication, and you will be out of the town in no time.
I stopped at the Three Crosses and rested, people-watching. I read the poem on the sign beside the bench, for ‘every Friday’ and reflected that it was especially apt for today as it was Good Friday. My feet were aching ,so I took my boots off, renewed the plasters, trooped over the little bridge knowing I had 4 or 5 more hours to go and that the rain clouds looked ominous.
At the bus-shelter-style tourist information, I took a left and found the ‘Bombay’ sign as indicated in my book. (‘Vía de la Plata and the Camino Sanabrés’ by Gerald Kelly. He is a renowned author and walker but do not get an out of date copy as things change really quickly.)
The noisy geese cheered me on; the raptors glided and wheeled overhead; fences made of barbed wire and a variety of sticks including Ash with black buds were on either side; bulrushes at the cotton-wool stage stood erect. There were derelict buildings and lots of gates which had to be opened and closed as I trolled uphill.
I saw what they mean by ‘cow’s lick’ as the fur at the front of the cows’ faces is in a pretty whorl; there were donkeys (I heard them though the night too), and I was happily traipsing away in the middle of nowhere.
I was reflecting that there was no point in thinking of going quickly or getting there faster as it is impossible, one must just live through it, even if it does start raining or your feet were hurting.
Now, here is a good idea which I came up with as I walked: start a pole exchange at airports because it can be impossible to bring them through security.
Up and down I went, wondering if I had made another mistake. Yes, I had! It was a very long way to retrace my steps: at least an hour. This was a really bad mistake, given it was already well into the afternoon.
Basic advice: only go somewhere if you see the signs; if there are none, keep going straight; and where there are two blocks of light grey polished stone, one with a yellow square in plastic on it and one with a blue/green one, ignore the latter.
It was so beautiful, like a Garden of Eden, but I was really, really tired and I did not know how far it would go on. Far, it turned out. Through Holm Oak trees, along stony paths; with large insects (for the first time) flying around my head), and amidst cows with scary looking horns I went, until I eventually got to the road and tuned right for Oliva de Plasencia.
Then it was a long walk on tarmac – one and a half hours – until I reached the village. The wind howled and the rain rained.
The albergue was full and the woman shouted that I should have reserved my bed in advance. I had in fact phoned approximately 17 times that day, and showed her the record on my phone, but she had not picked up. The other hostel was also full (it is run by her as well). And so was the one miles away which she angrily gave me the number for. People walking around the village tutted and tried to help a little. It was nearly dark.
So I went to the church – after all it was Good Friday and I had read that Spanish people are very fond of pilgrims and very generous in their hospitality.
After a long time during which I sat, exhausted, while it continued to rain, someone phoned the priest who said I could not stay in the church, but in the porch (I knew it was due to snow that night and was already two degrees, so that was impossible). No-one was prepared to offer me a floor or sofa, though I said I could pay. Finally, a kind woman phoned and discovered there was one bed left at a hostel in Aldeanueva and another couple then took me there in their car. What a mess!
I guess I should not have gone there if I did not know there was a space, but it is a very unusual situation and the men and women who helped me said that the woman who ran the places was not following Tourist Association rules. The day before (I learned later) a fellow walker did the same thing. He, like me, did not want to walk more than 25 kms that day and this village seemed to offer an alternative.
It was pouring by the time they very kindly deposited me at the city albergue and I was greeted by backpackers I knew. It was warm and had all that I needed. I was so very grateful to the people who had helped me.