Tag Archives: pilgrim

Canaveral to Grimaldo

The weather changed last night, and Barcelona / Madrid Real tied in the playoffs, so the world is safe for one more day. I did not leave this sweet little town until 9:00, after grande cafe con leche and tostadas. The tiny bar keeper laughed and patted his tummy and my tummy before wishing me a Buen Camino. He is a friendly, elf-like person who seemed to enjoy taking care of the Pilgrims. From giving us the Albergue keys to feeding us yesterday and this morning, he always took great care that everything made us happy. His tummy pat was subject to interpretation: it either meant, “You have a full tummy to walk on”, or “Look how thin you are getting. You look fantastica!”

As I left town on the main road, a man stopped me and directed me off of the pavement. Just past a small Ermita, or church, the pathway left the highway and climbed steeply into a lovely pine forest. The sweet smell of pine combined with the scent of lavender. There were rock roses and the views over the countryside below were lovely. The storm clouds turned a fluffy white and scattered across the blue sky.

After climbing through the pine forests, the path descended into lovely meadows of wild flowers and ancient looking cork oak trees. It was quite magical, filled with soft light and birdsong. After crossing meadows and brooks while meandering among the cows, I took the path to the small town of Grimaldo. It was a very short walk, but a good day to continue letting my blisters heal.

The tiny town of Grimaldo straddles the highway and has only 2 or 3 streets climbing the hill behind the bar. It was fun to sit in the sun and do nothing but talk to the other Pilgrims as they arrived. We shared guidebooks, foot care remedies, and stories of our Camino journeys. There are many Germans and 2 Austrians, as well as a Danish man. The nationalities seem to move together and come in waves. The French people were here, so once again I had to mind my manners.

The Senora at the bar takes great pride in her Albergue and meeting all of the needs of the Pilgrims. The Albergue is a donation only, and she provides shampoo, bath gel, toilet paper (an unusual feature), a washing machine with detergent, and of course food and drink at her bar which is attached. She served a beautiful lunch of stir fried vegetables, pork cutlets, salad, wine, bread, and ice cream. It was presented very artfully and had been prepared with care.

Distance from  Canaveral to Grimaldo= 4.6  Miles / 8 Kilometers

Actual Distance Walked= 6.51 Miles / 10.5  Kilometers

Accommodations= Municipal Albergue, 12 places plus extra mattresses, kitchen, washing machine, donation.

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!

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A Miracle Foot Cure

Hanging around the square today I met Sergio, a very tall, big, outgoing Spain man about 30 years old. He was very excited about practicing his English skills. He carried a notebook with all the new words he was learning, how to pronounce them, and the subtleties what they meant. His English is nearly perfect. We spent 2 hours discussing everything from American TV series to politics while Sergio diligently took notes.

We were discussing foot care and blisters. He got very excited and began raving about his great thing he had devised. He never gets blisters! He explained that you pad your whole heel with this miracle product and tape it securely in place. It absorbs the sweat. It is fantastic! He did not know the word for it in English, but he was anxious to show me the miracle product. After rooting around in his pack, he came back proudly holding a feminine hygiene product. With is pencil and notebook poised, he asked what I call this. I was not about to get into a discussion on all the different varieties available, so I merely said, “It is called a sanitary pad.” After documenting this new word and practicing how to say it about 15 times, he confided, “Of course this is for women. In Spain it can be a problem for a man to buy such a thing. We are a very Macho country. The last time I was buying it the shop keeper was not wanting to sell it to me. I put my hands on my hips and declared loudly,”My name is Sharon!” After much hilarity, I assured him that he is definitely not a Sharon type.

Distance from  Embalse de Alcantara to Canaveral= 9  Miles / 14 Kilometers

Actual Distance Walked= 12.2 Miles / 20  Kilometers

Accommodations= Municipal Albergue, rustic. 6 places, kitchen, free. Pick up the key and get your stamp in the Bar / Hostal Malaga on the main road leaving town. You may also stay at the Hostal Malaga for 15 Euro.

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!


Casar de Caceres to Embalse de Alcantara

I began walking along lanes lined with stone fences. The rolling grasslands continued without a break as far as the eye could see. Huge solar panel farms spread across the land, contrasting a grouping of Roman Miliarios. These were large columns, engraved with numbers and set at consistent distances along the Via de la Plata by the Romans like mile markers.

I crested a hill and could see a large reservoir in the distance. The arrows split from the road at a big construction site.  There was a heated discussion in French: the bicyclists said it was impossible to follow the trail, and went by the paved road. An older French couple consulted their very detailed guidebook and determined that the road was easier but longer.

It was already very hot, nearing 96*F, so I decided to take the shorter way and bushwhack. The arrows directed me over a lumpy, serpentine path that doubled back to the construction site and through a gate. Then there were no more arrows. I followed a dirt path that seemed to be the only logical choice. I ended up on a cliff overlooking the Rio Almonte. I was on the wrong side of the river, with steep gorges between me and the main road that I could barely see,  meandering in the distance. I briefly considered throwing myself off of the cliff and swimming if I survived. However, I did not think it could be done with my pack on.

It was now mid day with the sun at its hottest. I despondently turned back and hiked back up the hill. When I reached the construction site I found an obscure, brush covered yellow arrow pointing off the road, and through the bushes. I stumbled on, continuing to find concealed arrows like an Easter egg hunt, until eventually reaching the road. It was many more kilometers along the main road before I eventually crossed another river and found the Albergue hidden down a dirt road. I found the ancient French couple who had walked the road already showered and having lunch. I guess I should have opted for the road!

People are definitely displaying the “Pilgrim’s Shuffle” now. We walk stiff-legged with tiny steps, trying not to stress one more muscle. When we have to navigate stairs, we use a crab-like side step. Down one step, then rest with both feet on the step, then down one more step. Our toes curl under and we wince visibly with each new maneuver. It is a universal bonding experience.

This beautiful modern Albergue has a great view overlooking the lake. In the distance you can see a Roman Bridge disappearing into the water. How would it be to have so many Roman ruins and bridges that you could just say, “They are only minor ones. Let’s build the dam and flood them”? I can just see the boater’s insurance claim: “I need a new prop because I struck a submerged Roman Temple.”

The Albergue host did our laundry in a machine, and I discovered frozen pizza. More American food! I was in heaven. The French couple were here so I had to use silverware again. Darn! Everyone ate pizza and drank wine as we sat watching the sun set over the waters on this warm night. Our contentment was great.

Distance from  Casar de Caceres to Embalse de Alcantara= 15 Miles / 24.5 Kilometers

Actual Distance Walked= 16.24 Miles / 26  Kilometers

Accommodations= Albergue Turistico overlooking the lake. This very modern facility has laundry, “walk in” bunks, frozen pizzas and other goodies to be microwaved, a bar, and a nice common area with a view of the lake. This Albergue is poorly marked, but very worth finding. It is directly behind the closed  “Linda Mar” hotel. It is poorly marked at the road, but when you come to a gravel road down toward the water and the arrows tell you to cross the road to the right side and begin a steep up hill, turn left down the gravel road instead. Keep going around a corner. 26 Euro, including breakfast.

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!


I could kill for some American food right now

I have been gone from home 3 weeks now, and I could kill for some real American food right now. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Spanish food and wine. I am certainly consuming my share of it guilt free because of all of the walking!

Today when I had a lot of time to lounge around and think about home, I got an overwhelming craving for a hamburger. Mind you, I don’t even particularly like hamburgers, I just wanted one. I was a woman on a mission. Incredibly, a bar on the main road was open and offered the first hamburger I have seen on a menu here. It came with an entire side plate of French fries. I scarfed it down and contemplated a second one.

Unsatisfied, I browsed the super-mercado in search of something I could cook for dinner. This was pure desperation to consider cooking for myself when I could go to the local bar cheaper and easier. I proudly stepped out of the mercado loaded down with bags filled with the ingredients for that great American favorite: Mexican Food! What kind of a statement is that about our cuisine? Back at the Albergue, I made scrambled eggs with Old El Paso salsa, fresh avacados, sea salt, tomatoes and lettuce all wrapped up in a tortilla. I was wolfing it down and the French woman left the table. She washed a fork and knife, and gave it to me. Obviously she thought we needed cutlery to be civilized. I did not have the heart to tell her that we always eat tortillas like that!

Distance from  Caceres to Casar de Caceres= 7  Miles / 11.5 Kilometers

Actual Distance Walked= 12.4 Miles / 20 Kilometers

Accommodations= Municipal Albergue across from the ayuntamiento, or town hall, on the Plaza de Espana. Great, clean little Albergue with 24 places, kitchen, free. Pick up the key and get your stamp in the ayuntamiento.

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!


Alcuescar to Aldea de Cano

I felt very sick after our lovely communal meal last night, and I could not even help clean up. I went straight to bed feeling feverish. Despite my silk sleep sack, all of my clothes, my down sleeping bag and a blanket I could not get warm. I was shaking and shivering, yet when I touched my skin I was burning hot. I was up and down all night with vomiting and intestinal issues. This morning my stomach was still very rocky and I could not eat. Worse yet, I could not keep coffee down! Every time I took a sip of water I wanted to vomit again. It appears that the hospitalero  was right yesterday when he thought I was sick and gave us a private room. I was the only person who was ill, so I know it was not the wonderful dinner that we were served.

Walking was very difficult and slow today for me. Fortunately it was very flat, perhaps even down hill slightly. My blisters hurt with each step, and I felt more blisters forming. I stopped to bandage my feet and apply a compeed pad to the entire ball of my foot. However, on the bright side,  we were walking directly on top of a Roman road which historians say is 50 CM below the current pathway. We crossed a Medieval and a Roman Bridge, just standing in the sunshine after 2000 years,  still used by walkers. The sky was very blue and it was a sunny 88*F by this afternoon. There is always something good to balance out the negative and make you glad you ventured out to see and experience it.

Not every day on the Camino is easy. However, I feel that this is the test of our fortitude. I could have stayed in bed for a day, but walking in the fresh air seemed to help. I think by going slowly I helped work some of the fever out of my body. I remember when I was about 16,  I stayed in bed one day when I was only marginally uncomfortable. My Mom asked me what I thought I was doing. She told me that there were lots of days that were less than perfect, and that I would waste a great portion of my life if I babied myself like that. She promptly informed me that I should get out of bed and go to school because she was not going to write an excuse for me. As small a thing as this seems like, it was great advice. You can be a whiner and a hypochondriac, and you find excuses by blaming your situation or those around you for your failings. Or you can do your best, and get on with making the most of your life. Either choice leads to a pattern of behavior. I prefer to think of life as an interesting challenge and just get out of bed and start walking each day, metaphorically speaking.

Thankfully our walk was only 10 1/2 miles today so I was able to have a restful day in this tiny town. The streets were very quiet during afternoon siesta. Even the cats lounged and lay draped from the warm, colorful rooftops. Storks circled overhead and a herd of goats grazed at the edge of the village. The soft goat kids frolicked and played king of the mountain on nearby rocks. They playfully butted each other off the rocks to gain a superior position before returning to the bright yellow green grass.

Distance from  Alcuescar to Aldea de Cano=10.3  Miles / 17 Kilometers

Actual Distance Walked= 12.6 Miles / 20  Kilometers

Accommodations=  Municipal Albergue, pick up the key and your stamp at the bar / restaurante Las Vegas. Small  Albergue on the main road with a kitchen, 1 bathroom, and 2 sleeping rooms. 12 beds with mats for extra places on the floor, 3 Euro. Food at the Bar Las Vegas across the street. There is also a very nice Casa Rural Via de la Plata on the main square in town. If you choose to walk slightly further, there is a basic municipal Albergue 7 miles past Aldea del Cano at Valdesalor, 10 places, free.

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!


Walking Companions

We met a Spanish man, Guillamo (William), who is walking the Camino with his faithful donkey,  Churro. William smiled gently as I scratched Churro’s ears and  rubbed his wooly neck. I enjoyed the few moments while he nibbled my fingers as I fed him a treat of grass.  He has a beautiful old-fashioned leather pack-saddle with baskets on the sides.  He carries his own food as well as William’s pack. Donkeys and horses expend a lot of energy walking long distances just like we do. They need high energy food, such as grains and corn, to keep up their strength.

This is the 5th year that William and Churro have walked the Via de la Plata together. Churro has his own scallop shell on his forehead, hanging from his halter, that commemorates all the years they have walked the Way together.  William seems a kind and gentle soul, content with his walking companion and his journey. He says it teaches him patience because he walks only as far as the donkey wants to walk. here is no persuading Churro to go further once he has decided that he has finished walking for the day!

They walked slowly into the morning sunshine together, without the necessity of a lead rope. Churro knows the way, and Guillamo taps him gently with his walking stick if direction is needed. I swear I could see both of them smiling.

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!


It’s a date!

As we were having a lunch of paella in a sunny sidewalk cafe, Julio spotted us lounging under our umbrella. He asked us to join him in the Plaza at 7:00. That evening we met and had a pleasant cold drink. Sadly, I have switched from wine to juice, trying Judy’s theory that alcohol makes us retain water. My feet are very swollen, so I will try the juice, but I do not like it! We continued struggling along in basic Spanish with Julio, and playing pictionary on our napkins to fill in the gaps. After an hour we excused ourselves to go shopping and said goodbye to Julio.

Judy was seeking sweets, and  all sorts of cute clothes and trinkets which she knew she could not carry, and I needed a straw hat for sun protection. Soon Julio found us and singled me out just as I was purchasing my sombrero. It was clear he wanted me to meet him alone for dinner. I had a date! When I told Judy why I had to disappear, she said, “Crikey! What does a man SAY? Especially when he can’t speak your language?” It was actually quite simple: there was much pointing in a “you/me” fashion followed by meaningful eye contact. Soft whispering “Solo. Plaza de Espana. Nueve. Comida.Bebidas.” This roughly means, “Alone in the plaza at 9:00. Food. Drinks.” This was sealed by a squeeze on the arm, a wink, and more soulful eye contact.

I think many romances happen on the Camino. This is a prefect situation for many people. I am sure it can be fun and  interesting,  perhaps even resulting in a longer term relationship. Who am I to judge what others do, or what is right for them? I only know that for myself, this is not the right path. It would be a bad way to treat my best friend and husband who trusts me. Besides, I like to avoid feeling guilty!

Judy was certain she would have to lurk around the corner and rescue me if it went wrong. I promptly assured her that I do not put myself or my friends in that position. It probably would have been fine, but why put yourself in a  situation that could easily go bad? We fantasized that Julio regarded us  Goddesses, and it was flattering and fun to be propositioned. But seriously, this is a Pilgrimage! Aren’t we supposed to be downloading sins, not accumulating more? We better get out of town before the pagan influences take over completely.

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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