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Zafra Travel Blog

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The frog pond - scene of my wee accident

Well, the last couple of days have been a blast! It was time to leave the wonderful friendly village of Real de la Jara and head to Monesterio, a slightly bigger Pueblo of 4000 people.

Ramon and I made an early start and found a Bar open at 6.45am for our first wonderful cafe con leche. The walk was just spectacular with plenty of the now familiar pigs, sheep and cows. After a couple of hours we stopped to change socks and have a drink. About 5 mins later we were fording a small riochuelo (stream) jam packed with delightful singing frogs and I slipped in wetting my entire shoes and socks. Plonker!! NB: The frogs legs were on the menu later in the day.

Monesterio: the town that lives and breathes all things 'meat'

The final 8km were not as much fun because we were walking close the the new highway and it was a stinker (hot hot hot). The camio turned into a gravel road and we were now in full afternoon sun.  The final ascent was a steep uphill slog for 2km. I was flagging but the thought of a shower and some sort of bed kept me going. This part of Spain is the deep south (cowboy country) and most people either work the land or create products from the land - namely pigs!! Nearly every store in Monesterio sold something made from the beautiful pigs, Cerdos Ibericos. This town is definitely a cowboy town - complete with handsome farmers and their horses riding through the main street.

As there was no Albergue for pilgrims here, we had to find a Pension.

If he can't see me, am I safe?
The one we selected was cheap but the owner not very friendly. Regardless, we decided to settle in as we had been told there was a big wedding in town that evening (Saturday). The local Torrero (bullfighter) was to tie the knot at 7.00pm.

After the usual process of showering, washing clothes and taking a small siesta it was time to meet for a walk around town and possibly a vino. By now the relaxed German (name not nationality) had joined us so the 3 musketeers were together again. We are the only 3 walking pilgrims at the moment.

After a few drinks (and chorizo to die for) at a marvellous bar in the plaza we were pleasantly surprised when the weddng party and all of the guests formed a walking procession right past us to the Church. It was beautiful. Girls, we can learn a thing or two from the Spanish Chicas about dressing. No black in sight, but every colour under the rainbow.

We had settled at bar Las Templarios and after making friends with the proprieter, he invited us back for dinner (Spanish do not eat before 9.00pm). After freshening up we three returned for a spectacular meal of (you gussed it) pork! The speciality was Solomillo, kind of pan fried pork served with home made potato chips. The first course always seems to be ensalada mixta. This version was iceberg lettuce (Paul - now I understand), fetta, jamon and salmon - sounds strange but it was delicious. Of course we needed a bottle of Rioja Tempranillo to assist with digestion! Follow this with the obligatory cafe and a favourite digestive, Liquor Hierbos. Just as we were about to leave the manager brought us some complimentary drinks - a liqueur  made from acorns. Now you remember that the pigs around here feast on acorns to give the jamon its particular flavour. We are still on the pig theme!

Not to be outdone by the locals, we deciided we should see what they get up to on a Saturday so made our way to Bar Ponderosa (I kid you not!). I made friends with a large group of local girls and soon became their NBF (new best friend). We had a great time dancing and chatting. They and their partners invited us to the next bar and soon we were all in full party mode. More local drinking, this time Patxaran. Me gusta mucho!

I am not quite sure how this story ends but luckily there were 3 of us and we made it safely to our respective rooms at 5.00am (very bad pilgrim behaviour). I donĀ“t know how I did it but I was up at 9.00 and after 2 cafes was walking at 10.00 minus Ramon. The walking was the best so far. It started off through groves of oak along pretty lanes with stone walls on both sides separating the pigs from us. It was magical. Forget hangover, I had such a great day walking. I was careful to drink loads of water as I headed for Fuente de cantos, another tiny pueblo. The Canadian Grand Prix was on at 6.00pm and both German and I were trying to make it in time so perhaps we walked a little too fast.

On the way I stopped at a small wooden cross on the wayside. I had read about it in one of my books and was so pleased to have found it. Underneath was a tin box. Inside this a plastic bag and inside this an old video case containing a diary for pilgrims to record their thoughts. I read back over the last year and there was only one! other english speaking pilgrim. I left my mark and with a huge smile and slight skip, continued on my way - la Buena Vida strikes again.

A treat awaited in the form of a beautiful Albergue in a converted convent. Arrived totally spent, had not eaten more than an apple all day and my feet in so much pain that I could only manage a slow hobble. Still, what a great day! The albergue had small rooms with 2 bunks in each so we all shared again. There were crisp white sheets and real blankets (heaven is not having to use your sleeping bag).

So after a shower and washing it was time for the surgery to open. Oh dear. I had done some serious damage to one of my little toes. The entire end of it was a huge blister filled with blood. It took 3 (yes, 3!!) stitches threaded with cotton to empty it. (thanks for the blister lessons in my youth, dad). All my other blisters looked tragic as well so I decided to let them air while I had siesta. When I woke I felt as though I had been hit with a bulldozer. Quickly I downed 2 dehydration tablets and a litre of water. In an hour I was watching the GP and feeling on top of the world. Who needs a doctor. I am certainly glad I have a great medical kit. Thanks to everyone who assisted in its creation.

As we all had not eaten for a day (not that we needed to) we took a quick trip to a local bar and had 3 raciones (small serves). They were calamari, Lengua (beef tongue) and bacalao (small fish in a tomato sauce). It was home cooking at its best and just what 3 naughty pilgrims needed on a Sunday night. Early to bed and early to rise for a 26km day today.

As usual I was the first to leave. I shared my cafe with about 5 old men in the early opener Bar. The people are always amazed that I am travelling alone. It is unheard of here. 

The walk out of Fuente de Cantos was my favourite so far. I was alone with the early morning light on the wheat fields and first vines of the trip. In the distance on top of a hill was an enormous metal bull heralding my path for the morning. I passed 3 old ladies walking a small dog and we made girlie small talk for a few minutes. They were so stoked when I took their photo and showed them the result. Does it get any better? I have really found my mojo again. I felt the best I have for 5 years (BJ!) It was a moment of bliss and one that went straight into the Golden Box.

Ramon caught up in the next village and we made it to the town of Zafra without a hitch despite my Camino notes saying that it is easy to get lost around here. Zafra is a lovely old town with a historic old town centre. I have walked the perimeter this afternon and seen all the sites. The churches are beautiful.

Not much surgery this afternoon but I will keep you posted as I am sure it is fun readig (not!) 

More next time on the Golden Box. Besos

scheney says:
Hi Gracie,
I have just caught up on your blog and I am certainly sitting here in amazement. Reading what you have achieve and experienced so far. I know you will get through the 'house of pain' stages with the feet. Considering you do your own stitching (yuk). Keep it going and I look forward to the next update.
Posted on: Jun 09, 2008
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The frog pond - scene of my wee ac…
The frog pond - scene of my wee a…
Monesterio: the town that lives an…
Monesterio: the town that lives a…
If he cant see me, am I safe?
If he can't see me, am I safe?
photo by: pacovera