When I seat out this morning it was dark. The rain-swept across the land in waves, then would lighten and the sun would illuminate the rich greens of this hill country. The Sierra de Gredos Mountains are close. Cloaked in mists, they peeked through at intervals to lend a beautiful blue backdrop. By afternoon the clouds had disappeared completely. It seems odd to go walking in the dark, driving rain. However, that is the mind-set that you develop on the Camino. You just walk, regardless of the conditions or your physical state. It is a timeless rhythm which allows you to smell the earth, hear even the faintest echoes of nature, touch the elements, and experience the journey very intimately. What a joy it is to step softly through the universe.
I reached the Roman town of Caparra in a driving rainstorm. Pablo, a young Spanish cyclist, huddled pathetically under the huge arch without rain gear. He looked so forlorn that I gave him a hug. We talked in broken Spanish / English. I could not help but think of all those who have passed through this arch, the Arco de Caparra, since its construction in the second century. It is in perfect condition, standing alone in the middle of nowhere. The vaulting on the ceiling is beautiful, joining the entrances from four sides. There is a major excavation site of this roman town that once served the traffic on the Via Pecuria from Sevilla to Astorga. The original paving is still very much in evidence. We wondered what treasures the excavation will uncover in the future. Finally, we determined that the rain was not going to let up any time in the near future, so we said our good byes. I saw Pablo disappear with mud flying up his back as his bike skidded and struggled with the sticky goo. (Image of Arco de Caparra in the sunshine courtesy of Karl Martin Nagle)
I forded swollen streams and passed through some truly magnificent scenery. In many low-lying areas where water accumulates large blocks of granite are placed as stepping-stones. One stream had taken out a road, and there was no telling how deep the water was. I climbed on top of the stone fence bordering the road. Those old stone fences are not meant to be walked on. I ended up sort of crawling along on my hands and knees, hoping that I would not slip off and become entangled in and shredded by the adjacent barbed wire. I did get one gash on my hand. Thank goodness for current tetanus shots!
Toward the end of the day I met up with Benny, a Danish man I had met and talked to in the last few days. We had a picnic as the sun came out, and continued on farm roads together the rest of the way into town. We walked through pastures in the foothills of the mountains in sparkling sunshine. Rainbows formed over the hills and it was quite magical.
The town of Aldeanueva del Camino has many balconies which overhang the tiny streets. Some flowers are already peeking through the pretty iron railings. The houses seem to tilt in a bit as the streets wind up and down the hillside.
Tonight Benny and I had dinner in one of the local bars. Around 8:30 there was great shuffling of tables, more chairs were set up theater style, and at least 1/2 of the village crammed into the small space. The TV sprang to life for the Barcelona / Real Madrid futbol game playoffs! It was so much fun to share the excitement of the game with the people of Aldeanueva del Camino. I love how they congregate and share the experience and not sit home alone in their isolated space. It was like actually being at the game live, only on a smaller scale. Once we safely determined the team that the locals supported, we screamed, cheered, and jumped out of our seats like everyone else. What a great game, and a great way to spend the evening in this small Spanish town.
Distance from Olivia de Plascencia to Aldeanueva del Camino= 20 Miles / 33 Kilometers
Actual Distance Walked= 21 Miles / 34 Kilometers
Accommodations= Municipal Albergue in a small yellow house, 10 places, donation.
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