Tag Archives: women walking

Banos de Montemayor to Calzada de Bejar

It was raining as I wound my way out of this steep little town on narrow cobbled streets. At the top of the village the original paving stones of the original Roman road are still perfectly in place, and they lead you over the mountain top. It is quite a feeling to walk over the mountain pass on a 2000 year old road. The views of the green valley, shrouded in mists, were breathtaking. The land is terraced with stone walls to gain extra farm land.
Once at the summit, the road wound quietly down to the river on stone-walled paths. The landscape is very green and damp, with a profusion of ferns, moss, and purple wisteria.  There were sections of rocky peaks above, with huge boulders scattered among the cows. The valley is lined by beautiful trees and dotted with stone cottages. Rainbows danced across the hills when the sun emerged. it was quiet except for the rushing of the river and the singing of the birds.
The river is named the Rio Cuerpo de Hombre, or the “River of the Body of Man”. I wonder if the tributaries are named “The head of Man”, “The arm of Man”, “The leg of Man”, etc. to make up the whole “Body of Man”!
Just as I was pushing up a steep hill, I was feeling lonely. I wished I had someone to share this experience with, and I thought of the prayer:
I said to the angel,who stood at the portal of the new year,’Give me a light so I can safely walk to the uncertainty.” He looked at me and replied, “Just go out into the darkness and put your hand in the hand of God! This is better than a thousand lights, and safer than a known way.”
Just then a Camino moment of magic occurred. I looked up, and walking toward me was my Spanish friend Taqui! We hugged and laughed. I was so happy to see a friendly face. He had received my email just this morning telling him approximately where I would be walking for the next few days. He immediately drove to Calzada de Bejar and started walking toward me.  It was perfect timing because we met just 10 minutes from the village.
At the Albergue I paid for my spot because I had reserved it. I told them to let someone else have my place who needed a bed, as I was going with Taqui. There was an excited conversation in French, Spanish, and English as we explained to the Hospitalero and the other Pilgrims who I was and how Taqui and I met.  On my first Camino, Taqui was a Hospitalero (volunteer host) at the St. Francis of Assissi Pilgrims Hostal in Tosantos. Taqui and Jose Luis created a warm and loving environment, and as a result, it was a spiritual turning point for me. I always regretted not being able to tell Taqui and Jose Luis what important work they were doing, and how it changed lives. Two years later, through a series of emails resulting from my book, I found that Taqui’s lady lives only a few hours from me in the Seattle, Washington. Taqui and Robbie came to my house in January, only a few months ago, and we began a new kind of  friendship.  Once we are Pilgrims, we become part of a global community who share a very powerful common experience. The world seems like a much smaller and better place, full of friends with good intentions. This seems more like a miracle than a coincidence to me!

Distance from Banos de Montemayor to Calzada de Bejar= 7.5  Miles /12 Kilometers

Actual Distance Walked= 12.68 Miles / 20.5  Kilometers

Accommodations= Private Albergue Alba Soraya, 28 places, 8 Euro. This is a friendly, nice Albergue, located just where you need it after finishing the climb out of the valley. They serve very good food upon request.

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The Horses of Andalucia

The horses are fantastically beautiful here. You see guys just prancing down the street on them. It has been said that an Andalucian man without his horse is like a matador without his cape. These beautiful creatures  have been a source of pride and an integral part of the Spanish culture in work, leisure, battle and every day life for centuries.

When the Romans came to Spain around 200 BC they were very impressed by the Andalucian horses. Centuries later, when the Moors conquered the area, they prized them highly and bred them with Arabian and Berber horses. Their blood lines have spread throughout the world, helping to establish the royal horses of Denmark (The Fredriksborg), the Austrian Kladruber, several British breeds, and the famous Lipizzaners of Austria, to name a few. They were also taken to the Americas by the Conquistadors, establishing horses in the New World for the first time since prehistory. This is the horse that became “The very cornerstone of classical riding.” Whether they are used as carriage horses, working on ranches , in competition, or for pure pleasure,  their gentle temperament combined with a graceful, ballet like stride they are a national treasure.

About 50 per cent of Andalusians are usually grey or white, the rest being bay or black. I find this odd, because light-colored horses sunburn! You would think that in a hot, sun drenched country evolution would have produced more horses with dark coloring.

The saddles that I have seen the local men riding have very unusual stirrups that are about 6 or 8 inches wide, supporting the rider’s entire foot.  The saddles have very high seat backs, and they come up in the front but do not have a saddle horn. However, they look very secure. The riders usually have very tall beautiful boots.   Last night I saw a man on a beautiful gray horse, and I did a thumbs up. I told him “Muy guapo!”, or very handsome. He laughed and smiled, waving a great big “Muchas Gracias!” I meant the horse was handsome, but if he thought I meant he was handsome, I guess no harm was done. I can see I need to be more clear in what I say!

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