Sat 30th Sept., Aldea del Cano to Cáceres, 22 klms
Possibly only a short post today. It was a hard but enjoyable walk, and to use a somewhat base Aussie expression, I'm a bit knackered.
The walk did prove one of my theories, that is, if I expect it to be hard it won't in reality seem as difficult as the picture the mind had painted beforehand.
Today's title came early from a very brief interaction with a cyclist. The "buen camino" he gave us, accompanied by a giant smile, was totally genuine. We have seen maybe 50 cyclists in total in the last fortnight (compare that to the CF where one sees 50 every hour). Most of our current 50 haven't been pereginos, but everyday folk simply out for a ride - singles, groups of mates, or couples. Many wish us well as they ride by. I recall railing against groups of cyclists on the CF where often they'd throw a "buen camino" over their shoulder in a sort of "get out of my way" sort of manner. But today, and most others, have been refreshingly different.
That led me to another thought. Others have spoken about the VDLP being a more "authentic" experience. I know what that word means, but can't necessarily translate in a practical sense. We obviously can't go back a thousand years to times when the devout made a pilgrimage to the tomb of St James with nothing but the clothes on their backs, relying on the goodwill of the churches along the way to feed and house them, and hoping that the fighting orders such as the Knights Templar protected them (although we do have the Guardia Civil 😉). But perhaps "authentic" is in the sense that people are generally genuinely supportive of those who make this walk, irrespective of their motivation for doing so, whereas on the CF there's possibly a stronger commercial orientation. (I realise that there's a series of assumptions and possibly projections thrown in there. ) Happily, the "buen camino" from the cyclist this morning generated all of these thoughts.
These thoughts aside, it wasn't a day for many photos. Here's today's overview, plus a few shots. We left Aldea del Cano early-ish (a little after 8am, sunrise) , for a bit of a march to Valdesalor (around 11 klms). Valdesalor is a new town - built in 1963. Very different to most places we stroll through. Stopped for a coffee at the local bar - very friendly woman behind the bar - and a platano in the plaza where all the old senoras had turned out to watch a wedding.
Leaving Valdesalor we were overtaken by Neil from Nottingham. We walked with and chatted to him for about an hour - he set a fairly brisk pace in the sunshine from Valdesalor to the top of the hill just short of Cáceres. Interesting fellow. Told us that he doesn't have a TV - got rid of it 10 years ago - and that he's only been to London 9 times in his whole life (we guess he's probably in his late 40s), 8 of them to run in the London Marathon (and for those interested his best time was 2:43, and all have been 3:00 or less). No wonder he could charge up the hill. He started his walk in Málaga, and we likely won't see him again as he's walking 30/40 klm days.
We got here at 3:30-ish. We've done a little exploring in this fascinating town, but I'll leave all that till tomorrow - we've restructured things to spend an extra day here.
We found time for a therapeutic ice-cream (50:50 chocolate and pistachio) though, just to beat the heat ...
And lastly, an incredible meal at Mastropiero Gastrobar y Jardín tonight.