Tag Archives: art

Into Alcuescar

We have climbed through lavender and yellow broom, oak trees and sculptured rocks. As I emerge from the canopy of shady trees, the town of Alcuescar appears before me . The sunshine illuminates and warms the village walls, it’s white shapes spilling down the hillside to meet the olive groves. It is 85* F on the 10th day of April.

“Into Alcuescar” is a 12” X 12” original oil painting on canvas.

If you are enjoying this trek along the Via de la Plata, and the imagery, please share this blog with your friends and family. Visit my website at http://www.theartistsjourney.com to see the complete collection of my artwork or purchase “The Artist’s Journey.”

Please help others find this blog by Liking me on facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/ArtistsJourney Tell your friends!

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Into the Mountains Near Aljucen

Approaching Aljucen I could see the rise of the mountains. They formed a  hazy blue-gray backdrop to the whitewashed village spilling down the hillside. Pastures bordered by oak trees formed a patchwork of greens as they undulated over the land. Where will this shaded pathway lead? What is in store for me in this tiny village perched at the gateway to another mountain pass?

“Into the Mountains Near Aljucen” is a 12″ X 16″ original oil painting on canvas.

I completed a tiny thumbnail sketch in my journal while walking along the way. Next I found the photo that corresponded to this place the most closely. However, it is clear that artistic license was involved. The photo bears little resemblance to the scene I had sketched and written about.  I later executed a fast under painting in sepia tones of the image to provide a guide for values and shapes. Finally, the full color painting emerged as you see it here.

If you are enjoying this trek along the Via de la Plata, and the imagery, please share this blog with your friends and family. Visit my website at www.theartistsjourney.com to see the complete collection of my artwork or purchase “The Artist’s Journey.”

Please help others find this blog by Liking me on facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/ArtistsJourney Tell your friends!


Aljucen to Alcuescar

We snuck out of the Albergue as quietly as possible at 7:00. We stealthily slipped past sleeping Peregrinos, who were  packed like sardines into the kitchen. The local bar was miraculously open. The barista mistakenly made 3 muy grande cafe-con-leches because he could not conceive of anyone not wanting one. I drank both mine and Judy’s and shot out of town on a caffeine high with my headlight on, howling at the local dogs. It was like rocket fuel!

It was foggy and mysterious as we walked through another national park. Our senses focused down to the micro level. Fog rose up from the ground and encased the landscape in a soft,  gray blanket of moisture. We noticed spider webs quivering in the mist, bejeweled with dew.

We pushed steadily up hill through forests of twisted Holm  Oak trees, rising from bushes bursting with lovely cream and burgundy rock roses. Huge stones continue to add interest to the landscape. There was bird song filling the air at the sun broke through the mists. The sun revealed a scene of  intense beauty, spot lighting the deep violet lavender and yellow broom. The sheer natural beauty of this walk took my breath away. It is hard to believe there could ever be a more lovely spot on the earth!

We were warmly welcomed at a Monestary, the Casa de la Misericordia. Monks care for disabled men in this quiet, peaceful place. You can actually feel the gentle spirit of the Camino that resides within the walls. I have developed my first blisters of the trip, several on the bottom of my heels. Because of this, I had sort of hobbled into the Monestary. The Hospitalero was very concerned, and asked if I was sick. I shook my head “no” and said I would be fine. However, he assigned us to a small room with twin beds, a sink, and a window overlooking the countryside below. I appreciated his kindness in giving us a private room so that I could rest. It is a friendly, heartfelt, welcoming  home for Pilgrims.

Tonight we were served a communal meal in the Monestary. Everyone pitched in to help serve the food, and later clean up. We sat at a long table and enjoyed the soup, fresh salad, slices of juicy pineapple,  and baskets of bread as we spoke of our journeys. We met two young Danish men who were just out of high school. They are cycling from Morocco to Denmark. They came upon the Via de la Plata, so they decided to merge it into their trek. What a fantastic adventure they are having! I am grateful for the simple food and lodging, and for all the wonderful, inspiring people who are crossing my path.

Distance from   Aljucen to Alcuescar=12.67  Miles / 20 Kilometers

Actual Distance Walked= 14.13 Miles / 23 Kilometers

Accommodations=  Albergue at the Casa de la Misericordia monastery, Donation. Apx. 30 places. Communal dinner.

If you are enjoying this trek along the Via de la Plata, and the imagery, please share this blog with your friends and family. Visit my website at www.theartistsjourney.com to see the complete collection of my artwork or purchase “The Artist’s Journey.”

Please help others find this blog by Liking me on facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/ArtistsJourney Tell your friends!


Spanish Lavender

As the warm light began to creep over the landscape, it played across the undulating contours of the hills. Large, sculptural groups of rocks  scattered across each hill, while under foot the stony surface lay just beneath the lush grasses. Shades of gold, bronze, pink, bluish-green, gray, violet and deep green graced the tall, thick undergrowth. Gently swaying clumps of Spanish lavender scented the crisp morning air as a soft breeze swept across the land.

“Spanish Lavender” is a 12″ X 16″ original oil painting on canvas.

If you are enjoying this trek along the Via de la Plata, and the imagery, please share this blog with your friends and family. Visit my website at www.theartistsjourney.com to see the complete collection of my artwork or purchase “The Artist’s Journey.”

Please help others find this blog by Liking me on facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/ArtistsJourney Tell your friends!


Zafra to Villafranca de los Barros

It was up and down hills covered in vineyards and  olive groves, but mostly gradually down, all day. We passed through the pretty little town of Maimona, featuring a church with a beautiful plaster work facade in tones of cinnamon and warm apricot. Scallop shells and other symbols of the way  were intricately carved, and it  featured a puerta del Perdon, or door of pardon. Pilgrims of old who were too sick or injured to continue to Santiago could pass through the door of pardon and receive the same absolution as if they had made it all the way. It seems that it was the intention of trying, and making the journey with everything that you  possessed, that counted for forgiveness. That is a good philosophy to remember.

We arrived in the small town of Villafranca de los Barros at mid day and set out to explore. We found hauntingly beautiful and soothing music in the warm yellow church at the heart of the village. In the small, shady plaza beneath the church, a friendly Spanish man and his wife greeted us. They were Friends of the Pilgrims, and they welcomed us to their town. They bought us a cool drink and asked if there was anything they could help us with. We told them we had been unable to find scallop shells, or conchas. They took us to the Pilgrims office and gave us extra credentials stamped by the archbishop of Merida, conchas, maps, and brochures on the area. They would not accept even a donation. They represent the sweet, gentle goodness and spirit of giving found along the Camino. It was quite simple yet heartfelt, one Pilgrim to another. Additionally, they informed us that our destination for the next day was having the annual wine festival and that every room in town was already booked. They recommended that we take the bus to Merida, as we felt it was impossible for us to walk 28 miles in one day. We were somewhat disappointed in having to take the bus, but it was the only sensible thing to do with our bodies beginning to talk back to us.  Judy has blisters that she is treating. We all have swollen feet that have begun to burn and tingle.

Today was tough walking for me. I may have had too much food or water in my pack, increasing the weight. Perhaps I was not careful how I packed things into it, or it was positioned wrong. I developed a muscle pain that shot from my lower back through my hip, and all the way down my leg to my calf.  My right foot began to tingle and I was just slapping my foot along the path by the end of the day. I came dragging into town like  Quasimodo, the hunchback of Notre Dame. I was drooling pathetically. I felt like I had experienced a stroke. I asked my friends to monitor me , and by the end of the evening Judy confirmed that I was drooling but dismissed the possibility of a stroke and diagnosed mas vino.

We spent the warm, sun filled evening in the square visiting over a glass of the beautiful local wine. Julio, a Spanish Peregrino, Alan, Judy, and I played a pictionary version of trying to communicate. It was so much fun and truly exemplified the spirit and great joy of the Camino for me. We talked soccer (futbol), families, books, and a variety of other subjects. It is difficult because you have to listen and watch so intently, but it is very rewarding. I am understanding more Spanish each day. Who would have ever thought that I would have the job of  interpreter? It is not that I know how to speak Spanish, but rather that I am unafraid to try. When I look foolish, people are very gracious and helpful. The words that I knew are now easy to recall, and I am learning new words each day. As the evening came to a close Julio went off to watch his futbol game and we returned to the hotel for dinner. I learned that Alan and I were on the Camino Frances 3 years ago at the same time and had met many of the same people. We met a 77-year-old German Pilgrim named Hubert. He has walked 8 Caminos and looks fantastic. He told us sadly that he can only walk as far as Salamanca this year. His wife won’t let him go for more than 3 weeks now, ” at their age.” He rings her each night at 10:00 and they plan the next day together. He laughed as he told us this sweet story of how they reassure each other so that he may continue.

What a day of contradictions: from struggling so hard physically on the trail to the wonderful emotional embrace of the other Pilgrims on this warm Spanish night.

Distance from   Zafra to Villafrance de los Barros=13  Miles / 21 Kilometers

Actual Distance Walked= 15.8 Miles / 25.5 Kilometers

Accommodations= We discovered the pensione was closed due to a death in the family. We checked into the very luxurious Hotel Diana in the Center of town: a very nice hotel with a restaurant and bar on the lower floor. 70 Euro for a room for 3 persons, or 23 Euro each, with a luxurious ensuite bathroom. There is currently no Albergue in Villafrance de los Barros.

If you are enjoying this trek along the Via de la Plata, and the imagery, please share this blog with your friends and family. Visit my website at www.theartistsjourney.com to see the complete collection of my artwork or purchase “The Artist’s Journey.”


The Fortress of Zafra

The massive stone walls and turrets are golden in the evening light, silhouetted boldly against the clear blue sky. It dominates the skyline with its strength and sheer size. I think of all the history that has marched across this very spot, so many civilizations built and destroyed. Each unique and varied culture has left it’s mark on the psyche of the people now inhabiting this pretty little town. It reminds me never to take things for granted, never to say “Some day I will do this or see that.” We can never be sure what the future will bring. Life is too short for anger and conflict of our own making. We  should walk joyfully, loving our friends and family with a passion like there is no tomorrow.

“The Fortress of Zafra”, 12 X 16 oil on canvas.

Zafra is and interesting little city boasting pre-historic settlements and a large Bronze Age community. Straddling the Via Pecuria, it was an important Roman stopping point between Sevilla and Merida. It was “La Safra”, or Muslim “Cafra”, until King Ferdinand III conquered it in 1241. The city is centered on The Alcazar, or castle, built in 1437 which was formerly a Moorish fortress.  The interior was destroyed by Napoleon in 1822. It was exquisitely restored and today it serves as the Parador of Zafra, the town’s most distinguished hotel.

If you are enjoying this trek along the Via de la Plata, and the imagery, please share this blog with your friends and family. Visit my website at www.theartistsjourney.com to see the complete collection of my artwork or purchase “The Artist’s Journey.”


Fuente de Cantos to Zafra

Last night I thought, “If I get to the first village and can not walk on because I am so ill, I will get a ride to Zafra and find a Doctor.” However, this morning I felt much better and was cheered up by Judy. She said, “We are super women! Not only that, the blokes are all staring at us because we are so good looking!” Yeah, that is the spirit! We proved it too, because we walked out of Fuente de Cantos at 8:35 and did not arrive at our Albergue in Zafra until nearly 5:00 and over 16 miles, making a very full day of walking.

It was sunny once again, although the temperatures were cooler. We walked on country lanes across vast expanses of rolling hills covered in vibrantly yellow-green wheat. Men were out hunting with their greyhounds and the wind whispered across the hills.

There were miles of silvery gray olive trees with a  riot of colorful flowers beneath their twisted trunks. Vineyards, not yet leafed out, followed the contours of the hills. They are like lines drawn across the landscape, becoming smaller and smaller until they disappear into infinity.

There was standing water everywhere from the rains yesterday. We had to ford several streams and walk around boggy spots in the trail. Small shapes of water in the fields reflected the blue sky and added a cool crispness to the land.

We are staying 2 nights in a beautifully restored Convent that is now an Albergue Turistico. We are sharing a room with Karl Martin. (I wonder what the sisters of old would have thought of that!) We had been unable to find Conchas, or the traditional scallop shells, to tie on our packs marking us as Pilgrims. Karl found a restaurant selling Conchas and bought one for me. He knew that I was disappointed not to have one for this journey, so he gave it to me with a shy, sweet smile. I was very touched by his simple gesture of kindness. It made me feel that the spirit of giving just for the pleasure of it that exists on the Camino is alive and well.

Distance from   Fuente de Cantos to Zafra=16.2  Miles / 26 Kilometers

Actual Distance Walked 17.81 Miles / 28.5 Kilometers

Accommodations= Albergue Turistico in a restored convent of St. Francis. 22 places in rooms for 4 persons with private bath in each room. Beautiful, quiet, directly across and down 1 block from the castle. The Albergue Turisticos allow you to stay multiple nights (and make reservations) since they are privately owned. 10 Euro per person, 12 Euro including breakfast of coffee or tea or hot chocolate, toast, juice and fruit.

If you are enjoying this trek along the Via de la Plata, and the imagery, please share this blog with your friends and family. Visit my website at www.theartistsjourney.com to see the complete collection of my artwork or purchase “The Artist’s Journey.”


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