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Monday, 15 October 2012

Monesterio on the Via de la Plata

Real de la Jara to Monesterio 20kms Day 5

Wednesday 21st September 2012

Castillo de las Torres near Real de la Jara
After breakfasting in the only bar in Real de la Jara we could find open we walked out along Calle San Bartolomé. We had checked out our exit from the village the evening before. To our right was the Castillo de las Torres dating back to the early Middle Ages. Shayne and I would have liked to check it out more closely but ahead of us lay our last 20kms of walking.

I had arranged to phone my wife Angela later in the morning to meet us and take us back to Marbella. It would take her two and a half hours to get to Seville and Monesterio only another hour down the road by car. It was going to take us five days to get there on foot.

After five mornings we had our early morning routine worked out, water bottles easily accessible, bread rolls for our first stop at the top of our packs, the packs balanced and the map needed for the day at hand. It was our last morning's walk and we swung along at a good pace.
Bicigrinos on the Via de la Plata

Not long out of Real de la Jara we crossed the frontier of Sevilla province with Bajadoz, the first province in the Extremadura autonomous community.  We practised saying "On Day Five we walked out of Andalucia into Extremadura!" It sounded good and rolled off our tongues easily.

The enormous Vistahermosa finca took two hours to cross. Men were repairing stone walls, others checked on the pigs grazing beneath the acorn trees. Who owned this huge farm?  A sign advised us that we had come to the Ruta de las Contrabandistas, the Smugglers Route which came down out of the Sierra  de San Roque some kilometres off to our right. Ahead of us we could see blue mountains. Somewhere beyond the mountains was Monasterio, the end of our walk.

It was a warm morning and when we stopped for our midday break under a lone tree, inevitably we talked of when we might continue our pilgrimage on the Via de la Plata. Shayne's time was limited. Each time she walked in Spain she had to travel down from Germany and we still had around 800kms to go to Santiago.  Our next stint would have to wait until next year. As we sat and chatted we saw three cyclists approaching. Their saddle bags were laden and we could see they were pilgrims. Bicigrinos as a roadside sign referred to cyclists on the Camino. We exchanged the traditional pilgrims' greetings "Buen camino!

Without getting up we took a photo of them as they cycled past. Somewhere off to the north beyond them lay Santiago de Compostela. They would get there long before we would. It was then that we looked at each other. Perhaps we could continue our pilgrimage on bikes?  It would be an adventure. Something to plan in the winter months. Would rides along the Ruhr river on flat cycle paths provide enough preparation? Could I do some mountain bike training in Marbella to find out what kind of bike to buy.

Monesterio is only 10kms ahead!

Our discussion about biking parts of the long Via de la Plata route took us with renewed spirit and drive to the junction of the EX 103 and the N630 roads.  Monesterio and the end of our first adventure were only 10 kms ahead. It was hot now and a tunnel of eucalyptus trees took us out of the sun for a couple of kilometres. The climb to the port above Monesterio seemed never ending. 
A long hot climb to Monesterio

A monumental ham
Suddenly we were in Monesterio, a giant ham signalled the entrance to the town and the importance of the pig industry to the town. Just inside the town we heard a happy greeting from a passing car. It was Angela,  she had last seen us five days before departing in a taxi to the bus station in Marbella. We dropped our packs into the car and it felt good to be driven to the Hotel Moya at the entrance to Monesterio.
Pilgrims in the Hotel Moya Monesterio
The Hotel Moya offers special accommodation and meal rates for pilgrims and ater our very welcome cooling gazpacho soup and good helpings of pork chop and chips the waiter was more than pleased to stamp our pilgrim's credentials. By chance, across the car park from Hotel Moya we spotted the Ankay bike shop. I took a photograph of the shop, not guessing then what part it would play in our continuing camino.

Back: Almaden de la Plata to Real de la Jara Day 4

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