Wed 27th Sept., Mérida to Aljucén, 17klms
Today started with much uncertainty - should I walk or should I not? I didn’t want to just sit around Mérida all day long waiting for the late afternoon bus, nor was I all that keen on leaving Janet alone for another day – not that she’s not quite capable of looking after herself, but rather that that wasn't in the spirit of what this trip is all about.
So after a fair bit of umming and ahh-ing, I decided to give it a go. It turns out to be the right decision.
Our first stop was to the farmacia to get some guts drugs (should have done that 48 hours ago), and whilst we were there we notice that the tourist bureau was open so we collected an official Mérida sello. Then we were on our way. Our plan was to walk a couple of kilometres to the Bar Acueducto, where Janet would stop for breakfast (I’m still on a restricted/zero diet). The bar is of course perfectly named, as these few shots show.
And of course you have to have an acueducto selfie, even if the light's a bit lousy:
This was probably our prettiest day’s walking. The town of Proserpina, about 6klms from Mérida, is home to a beautiful lake built by the Romans in the 1st and 2nd centuries as part of their water system to service the town of Emerita Augusta, as Mérida was then known. Apparently they built 3 of these to service the town. Amazing engineering skills. The water path from this one was nearly 10 kilometres long at a slope of 1 metre per two kilometres. Water flowed at 150 litres per second. Today, along its pathway various relics remain, including 7 aqueducts and a channel dug into granite rock. Whenever I find out some of the facts of their engineering craftsmanship I am amazed, as I was today.
The walk into Aljucén, where we are now, was uneventful. The pastures through which we walked were quite green, with little white, purple and yellow flowers abounding. It was quite warm walking – in the region of 30- degrees – and little breeze. Same for the next few days I think. It was the right decision to walk, and I'm pleased that all went well.
Signs like this raise hopes, especially after a longish hot walk uphill. Sadly it was closed.
Aljucén is a lovely little town, and seems to have really adopted the Camino spirit, judging by the various adornments on the houses and walls.
Mosaic tiles embedded into the roads around town
Santiago welcoming us to town
So one way of looking at the above two is that we now have less to go than when we walked the Camino Frances.
By street map distance we've now come 223 klms (and there's been some car/coach travel in that). Add on to of that a bare minimum (guesstimated average) of 5 klms each day wandering around towns, be that exploring/touristing, or looking for a feed/bar, or sometimes getting lost. So we've covered lots of extra klms on top of our "official" 223.
Sundown over Aljucén's San Andre's
Our digs for the night, the Casa Rural La Plata, is delightful.
One of the things I really like about these rather remote little villages is the apparent community spirit. We're sitting here in the town square, families have come out for a meal at Magui y Raquel's cafe, kids are running around noisily playing. Perhaps that happens in regional/country Australia, but I suspect not.
Another relatively easy 17 klms or so tomorrow. Back into the swing of things now ...