Guillena to Castilblanco – 17.2km / 10.7 miles – now @ Albergue Municipal Peregrinos Castilblanco.
A good night’s sleep was off the menu last night. I’d say only one of other five in my room was not snoring. The top bunk was not that comfortable either, and with every movement, swayed like the undercarriage of a bull.
It’s mid afternoon in the municipal albergue of Castilblanco. I arrived shortly before the opening time of 1pm and was first in. It’s a donativo albergue (by donation) and run by a lovely guy who speaks every European language except mine.
He quipped in Spanish that it’s only English speakers who visit Spain with just their native tongue. Probably true, to be fair.
Frustrating though, as I understand much of what he says but can rarely reply beyond si, no and most commonly, no entiendo.
We did have a brief chat in French tonight after he heard me say some words. In French, I somehow managed to find out the best place for desayuno tomorrow. The two years of French at school were totally worth it after all.
I was not the first to leave the Albergue de Luz this morning. A friendly Danish chap who was ahead of me took a 6 km road detour to avoid the three hours of energy sapping mud (he knew what to expect having done the Via before).
The sloppy trail was on another level today. The mud here might not be NZ knee high, but it’s so sticky and makes walking very tough going. The soil is like some sort of clay and has become very slippery with all the rain.
When I left the albergue at 8.15 this morning it was pouring with rain, and that’s how it stayed for three hours. Just outside town is a very nasty stretch of road to negotiate.
Cars are hammering along way above the 100km limit. It sucks balls when you are so close to the traffic due to lack of a verge. I was moving swiftly by now.
At the end of the road section was a cafe where I stopped for a coffee. I walked in looking like a drowned rat and the locals looked on with friendly confusion.
I was finally off the main road but onto a muddy path beyond belief. I had my fair share of mud recently in New Zealand, but this Spanish stuff is evil. As mentioned before, it is so sticky that you are thankful for every step that your boot remains on the end of your leg.
The next challenge was to negotiate a field of horned cows and the solitary ‘lucky’ bull. As I was sizing up a route around the herd, a Spanish mountain biker appeared and gave me some reassuring words, in very good English too.
‘They look very calm today’ he said, ‘and there is only one bull’.
‘That’s one too many’, I thought.
I spotted the lone torro with his majestic undercarriage swaying in the wind (like an unstable bunkbed) and slipped purposefully past him, thankful that I had not purchased a red rain jacket.
With just a few KM to go and with no sign of the mud ending, I came across a Spanish family out on an afternoon ramble! They sure picked a bad day. Maybe the wet and mud is a novelty to an Andalucian hiker.
I had a nice peregrino menu tonight in a local bar that was recommended by the albergue guy. I had asked for chicken (pollo) soup and ended up with egg soup. I suppose that’s kind of chicken.
So tomorrow is a big day. 29km to the next place of rest. The forecast ain’t looking too pretty and the albergue man had suggested a taxi half way, to avoid a lot of road walking.
Well I am a glutten for punishment, so will be taking the road and hoping there is some sort of path next to it. At least it shouldn’t be muddy the whole day.
Food: Coffee x2, toast, crisps (trying to give up) bread, cheese, tomato, egg soup, eggs, chips, flan.
Feet: Dry at last
Remember to always take out appropriate travel or medical insurance while abroad.