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Day 7 - What's Important?

Fri 22nd Sept., Fuente de Cantos to Zafra, ~26 klms

[Some stats – estimated at a little over 26 klms, 33/35,000 steps recorded on our devices, departure 1030, arrival 1730, with assorted breaks over maybe an hour.]

This could end up being a somewhat long and rambling post, so depending on what time it is and where your are in the world you might like to grab a cup of tea.

I pondered much of today as to what to title today's post, and this one came to me just as I started. So it will be ...

You may have inferred from yesterday’s post that I was not happy. I didn't say that explicitly, but the inferences were certainly there. I know/ knew why this is the case, but chose not to get down into unnecessary detail, and still don't. But what I did do is talk at length to Janet about the matter (she knows all about it,  it's been troubling me for months, but it usually remains buried). I say all this just to put today into perspective.

I woke to receive an email from a friend/ex business colleague to advise that another colleague from past times had passed away. I hadn't seen him in years, and although I knew that he was terminally ill, the speed of his demise was a shock. We weren't “mates” in an Aussie sense, although I was reasonably close to him (and his wife) for some years. I remember him as one of the most decent blokes ever to have drawn breath. We didn't always agree with each other over certain matters, but I knew that the decisions he made and the positions he took always came from a place of principle. There are certain practices which I still adhere to today which I learnt from him, some 20+ years back. What's all this got to do with the Camino you may ask? Well, nothing directly, but one of the things I've previously learned from the Camino is that the mere fact of walking for 6/7 hours a day, and putting the pain associated with that to one side, allows one (me) to contemplate the important things in life.

Which in turn brought me back to the issue which had been troubling me yesterday, and caused me to take a step to attempt to resolve it. Ahh, the Camino ...

Despite or indeed due to all these thoughts, and despite it being quite a long walking day, I found today a relatively easy and enjoyable walk. Defies logic.

Our digs last night were palatial. I can safely say they won't be bettered over the next 6 weeks, even if we were staying in Paradors, which we aren't. I'll put it down to no more than luck. I probably slept for some 10 hours, which in part accounted for the late start. And because it was an apartment with cooking facilities we were able to have a cooked breakfast before we headed out for morning coffee.

Because it was raining and a bit miserable when we got in yesterday we hadn't done any exploring. With a big day ahead of us we didn't get much of a chance to do so, but here’s a couple of centre of town shots.  For a bit of fun we also got a sello in our credencials from the local farmacia.

We’re now quite used to seeing no-one else, so when we chanced upon this traveller I had to grab a shot of him. He had a big journey ahead of him too ...

The road to our first stop, Calzadilla de los Barros was uneventful, but I was surprised (pleasantly) to see fibre optic cable laid along this remote-ish country road.

And I spent a lot of the day taking snaps of grapevines and olive trees, so here's the first few:


Grapevines to the left; a massive solar farm to the right

Calzadilla de los Barros was a delight, albeit briefly. A fabulous coffee at Bar Dioni, and as we left we turned a corner and there was el hombre de Mexico, who we had a chat with.  We now know him as Emilio. He had a blister problem so was of to the clinic and then planning to taxi to Jafra (where we are now). No doubt we'll bump into him again.


Leaving Bar Dioni

Above two: Iglesia del Divino Salvador, 15th/16th C.

Most of the rest of the day was spent simply walking and taking more photos of grapevines and olive trees.

I remain amazed at these low profile/non-trellised vines

Some of these olive trees have bases on them that suggest they are scores of years if not centuries old

Lunch amongst the olives

Now the other thing that entered my head today, and not surprisingly something which Janet had also been thinking about, has to do with the last third of the walk.  We had always planned to turn left at Granja de Moreruela, and then follow the Camino Sanabrés into Santiago. And we might still do so. But I/we have found this first week a fairly isolating experience, and even though we knew this would be the case, and we’re not “lonely” in any way, and on top of that even though we're normally relatively reserved folk, the isolation has been very noticeable. Soooo, my thought today was that perhaps rather than following the Sanabrés, we might continue north to Astorga, and then join the Frances into Santiago.

Those who have read my book, or who read my blog posts from 2015 might recall how I railed against the somewhat shallow hordes (me, judgemental??) who invaded the last 100 klms, and who didn't really seem to have the “spirit” of the Camino (there's that judgment again). So going up to Astorga and following the Frances may be a massive culture shock.

You'll see that,  combined, all that presents a bit of a dilemma. Those of you who’ve done this walk will have a valid viewpoint/perspective. I’d value your thoughts if you'd like to add a comment.  TIA.

Back to now. Our last stop for the day was the village of Puebla Sancho Pérez. Nice little town. Had a coffee. Visited the church (something was happening but we couldn't work out what). Got a “bum steer” on the walk into Jafra. We were encouraged to take the quieter ruta alternativa into Jafra, which took us into the middle of nowhere and then a 2klm hike along the major N-432 highway into town. Last thing we needed after 25klms on our feet.

Here we are in Jafra. Not surprisingly I’d booked us at the Hotel Cervantes. I'll close with some photos of the book in the foyer. Happiness ...

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Sep 24, 2023

Buen Camino Janet & Peter. Thinking of you both as I read this blog.


Sep 23, 2023

Hi both, I did the Via last September via Astorga. Would highly recommend. The few stages after Granja to Astorga are dead, but more lively post Astorga on the CF. The 2 prettiest stages on my whole Via were on this CF route. I was dreading the last 100 kms re. numbers of walkers, but was pleasantly surprised. The weekends are busier with Spanish walking, but the most I came across were approx 30 across the whole day. Accommodation wasn’t a problem. Ultreia



Sep 23, 2023

I walked the VdlP in spring so there were a few more people around. I loved the solitude, so definitely turned left and loved it. They say the Camino gives you what you need and from what you‘ve written it’s challengIng you already. Pilgrimage is about the inner journey (and pace AW above, faith is more then religion) Go with flow and you know which way to turn!


Sep 23, 2023

I was on the Camino Frances last year, second half of September. Some mornings, there were so many people, especially after Astorga, I didn't really enjoy it.



Sep 23, 2023

You’ve got lots of time to decide how to finish the walk, though I imagine you’ll stick to your original plan. been meaning to ask - do you book accommodation in advance? You’ll soon tire of those that fly in to walk the last 100km. It is good to have the time to mull over your thoughts and discuss them them with you partner. We certainly came unstuck this year following (well meaning I’m sure) advice on alternative routes. Just be grateful you didn’t start from here

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