Thursday, March 31, 2016

Torremejia to Meredia

We will continue to walk along the Romana Caldaza (Roman Road) for the next few days. The countryside is stunning this spring and though the distances walked each day can be a bit long with no place to stop along the way the road is fairly level and easy. Sometimes we even stand to eat our lunch. This area is full of history and some of the structures we pass were built in the first century AD. In fact, this area houses more important Roman monuments than any other areas in Spain. 

As we walk along this ancient road we contemplate our plans while we are in this area. We are trying to remember to stay balanced in our walk with rest and recreation times. We feel as if we have just now gotten into the swing of our walking routine and are a bit hesitant to stop even if it is to stop to relax and enjoy this area.

This seems to be a reoccurring theme of mine. Balance. I remember the first time we walked the Camino France's and decided right in the middle of the day to stop and stay right where we were. We changed our plans and left behind the thoughts of the 'recommended stages' and daily walking allotments. It was the best thing we could have done. It was such a freeing moment. I am glad that I have this time to work through this again.

So here we are today. About to enter this gorgeous city filled with Roman antiquities, good food, nice wine, and a lovely little Hostal near the plaza. It really didn't take us long. We're staying!

We are tourist again for awhile. Going to stay up late and sleep in even later. We will put our packs down and meander through this lovely town hoping to capture the hidden treasures within. We are going to have some fun! Thinking of would love this place. 

Buen Camino...You are loved.

Villafranco de los Barros

The walk from Zafra to Villafranca de los Barros was a dream come true. The weather was a perfect 60 degrees with a nip in the air and a bit of sun to warm our backs. Perfect for our nearly 20 mile walk today. We are finding that 'a mere twenty kilometers' often turns out to be a 'mere twenty miles'. We are not sure how they measure these areas but everyone we meet says the same thing. We really don't mind though as we are happy to be on this beautiful trail.

This area of Spain is known as the Extremdura and is a mixture of  farmland and natural reserves. This is not a heavily populated area. In fact, most of the time we walk we do so without seeing anyone except the occasional farmer. We are not walking from town to town but along this Silver Road as it cuts through the countryside and takes us deeper into the Extremadura. 

We have come to love the serenity of this walk. We stop along the way and turn full circle so we can capture all that is around us. Each moment we think that this is the most beautiful place we have been. Each moment this is true.

We stayed in a lovely Casa and right next door was a little restaurant. In fact, we walked through our kitchen to theirs. The agreed to make us a lovely little dinner and bring it to us when it was ready. We ate dinner in our room barefoot and comfortable.

We are feeling stronger as the days go by and we are excited at what is ahead. There are many hours throughout the day to think, to chat, to pray, to breathe and enjoy the silence. We are content and are thankful for this time.

You are loved and missed so very much...Buen Camino

Wednesday, March 30, 2016


The trail is stunning as we walk through this region in the spring. Not a moment goes by in which we do not appreciate the timing of this walk. I am sure this area would look much differently in any other season. For now, it is lush and green and filled with a variety of wildflowers. The weather has been perfect.

We continue along the Romana Calzada, the old Roman Road, and are smitten with the beauty of the earth and the miles we have to appreciate all that we are privy to viewing. Rows and rows of olive trees, grape vines, and alfalfa and the serenity of the countryside as we go hours without seeing another soul. Today was the exception when we actually met everyone we knew on the trail. This was a first for this trip and it was a bit exciting.

Zafra is our destination today and we have heard it is a beautiful city with a strong Moorish influence in its architecture. Many people call it 'Little Sevilla' and we are excited to see for ourselves.

We were welcomed into the city by a path of palm trees. Another  first for us in this region. We are staying in a lovely hostel at the recommendation of our host in Fuente de Cantos. It is a small compact city and looks like it has something for everyone to enjoy.  We see children out with their parents enjoying an evening carnival and later in the night young adults out enjoying wonderful food and beverages with lively conversations.

For us, we have decided to have Chinese food tonight. It is always awesome here in Spain. Familiar but with a Spanish flair which makes it better than almost any other place we have ever had it. Tomorrow Villafranca de los Barrios which is just a mere twenty or so kilometers. We shall see!

You are loved. Buen Camino.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Monesterio to Fuente de Cantos

Monesterio to Fuente de Cantos

We had heard for the last several days that Monesterio was famous in this area. It is known throughout this region as the Ham capital of  Spain. It is said that a connoisseur will know the ham from this region even before he is  told. The explanation for this has to do with the pigs diet. They are fed exclusively a very special diet of green grass and acorns. It is the acorns that supposedly give this ham its distinct taste and recognizable flavor by those in the know. We happen to agree that it is a wonderful tapa along with some goat cheese, fresh bread, olive oil, and a cool glass of wine at the end of a long hike.

 It was a stunning walk to Fuente de Cantos. We had heard that there was wonderful apartment for peregrino's and we decided to take advantage of the offer. When we entered into town Antonio was waiting for us. What a welcome site! He drove us to the apartment he and his son owned and offered to the pilgrims on the Via de la Plata. It was more than we could have asked for and we felt very comfortable and at home in this place. We even had our own washing machine and a beautiful balcony to hang our clothes for the day. 

After we settled in he drove is to the local bar where we had the best salad and calamaris along with some cool drinks. We watched people mingle on Easter Sunday (known here as Resurrection Day) at the cathedral. When the procession for Semana Santa began we were able to witness and enjoy this most sacred of celebrations. It was beautiful and we were honored to be a part of it.

We head to Zafra tomorrow which is known as the 'Little Sevilla'. Excited to see what is ahead...loving where we have been.

Buen Camino...

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Real de la Jara

 I remember when we first decided to walk the Via de la Plata. I was excited to be walking on the road less traveled and remembered in my research reading about a small village named Real de la Jara in the Extremadura region of Spain. Little did I know the imprint it would make upon both Tom and I as we shared a small portion of life in this small white village. 

It was a stunning little blanco pueblo, no one would dare disagree with that even though we would say that this was not the thing that made it most memorable. The walk in was beautiful as we passed the most breathtaking estates. We saw a small note posted on the trail about four kilometers from town advertising a small and beautiful Casa de Rural. We decided that this might be the place for us and so we called while on the trail. This was our first year with a Spanish phone and found it helpful for moments like these. Because it was Holy Week we decided to ensure we had a place to stay. When we spoke with Manuel he said he had a matrimonial suite for us. We usually ask for this kind of room because it gives us a larger bed and private bath. 

When we arrived into town we were a bit confused about the directions to the Casa. We gave a quick call and in just a few moments Manuel drove to meet and pick us up. He gave us a quick tour of the town and then drove us up to the 'Castle on the Hill' which was just a short distance out of town. He introduced us to a couple of professors who had walked the Camino Via de la Plata and we had a lovely conversation about what was to come. We had a little business in town and he accompanied us on these errands. 

We got back to our Casa and were delighted with our accommodations. We even had our own washer and dryer! I quickly washed our clothes and headed down for some local tapas and a nice drink. Our host ordered for us and it was phenomenal. Fresh local lamb with fresh picked potatoes and goat cheese accompanied with fresh cured olives, bread, and wonderful wine. His son Manuel and daughter Emma joined us and we learned of their life here in Real de la Jara. He was recently widowed and I think he enjoyed the company of someone who he could talk with and speak his heart. It was a beautiful time of sharing life and the stories that  can connect you to people you had not known before. To say it was lovely would be an understatement. I always love this part of life and travel. The part in which the ordinary becomes extraordinary. We could not have orchestrated a lovelier day.

Back on the road tomorrow with another destination and adventure awaiting. Thinking of you along the way. You are loved...Buen Camino.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Almaden de la Plata

Today our walk lead us into Almaden de la Plata. We knew it was to be a long walk, over 20 milesaccording to our guidebook, and we were to walk through the Sierra Norte (national forest) which usually means a mountainous terrain. We set out early after eating a hearty meal in our lovely Casade Rural. It was a beautiful home and we had the entire house to ourselves. We cooked dinner at home the night before and so we had a ready made breakfast of  pasta, peas, and meatballs. As strange as that might sound, it warmed and fueled us as we set off for an early  morning start. 

We passed many estates and saw the most beautiful gardens and farms. The livestock are stunning and I can not help but notice
 how well cared for and healthy they appear. This area is know for its famous Iberian ham. The pigs are feed special diets which include plenty of acorns.This enhances the taste of the meat and we are told that this is what makes the Iberian ham so desired and renowned. We are happy to savor it with some of the local cheese, fresh bread, and a glass of wine for our afternoon snack.

Our walk today actually turned out to be about to be 24 miles and the last mile or so was quite arduous. As we we neared the top of the crest we came into view of  one of the most beautiful blanco pueblos (white villages) we had ever seen. These are prevalent throughout the Andulucilian regions but this one was spectacular to us. We will rest a bit and catch an early dinner. The festivities  of Semana Santa continue even here in this small pueblo and we will hear the celebrations throughout the night and early morning.

We are happy to be just where we are and wish you were with us. 

Buen Camino. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Castilblanco de los Arroyos

Castilblanco de los Arroyos

Today we walked to Castilblanco de los Arroyos. What a glorious day this has been as we begin to truly experience the unencumbered life.  It is spring in Spain and the wildflowers are in bloom. The sun is warm and the air is cool and we have had a relatively easy walk today. A mere 15 miles in about 63 degree weather. The hills are alive with the multiple blooms of wildflowers and even the grazing cows are are a beautiful sight to our eyes. We are staying in a beautiful Casa de Rural or farmhouse. We have the entire house to ourselves and are feeling very much at home. 

We grab a quick tapa of spinach and chickpeas with some warm meatballs and a cool glass of wine. We have done our laundry for the day and will head to the market soon in preparation for tomorrow's 20 mile walk. People stop us as we walk, excited that we are peregrino's on our way to Santiago de Compostello. I wish our Spanish were a little better...but we are still able to engage in conversation with the local people we are meeting.  

We are the recipients of so much kindness. I have come to understand that a little kindness goes a long way and I hope to cultivate this within myself. I am thankful that I am a piece of work and still teachable in the eyes of my Creator.  

Holy much too think about as we meander through this beautiful countryside.  Thinking of are  so very loved.

Buen Camino. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Via de la Plata

Today we begin our official trek through the heart of Spain. We are walking the Via de la Plata or the Silver Road as it is also known. We have heard of it's beauty and serenity and today we were able to witness it for ourselves.
 We had read that the walk out of Sevilla could be hard but we did not find it difficult at all. We left at about 7:30 this morning with a cool and lovely morning fog. We stopped for a cafe con leche so we could officially start the morning and then were quickly back on the trail. We had met two other men from Ireland yesterday but suspect our paths may not cross again as they will only have 10 days to walk and they will want to cover as much ground as possible. We, on the other hand, have plenty of time and are no hurry whatsoever. 

We are enjoying the beauty and solitude around us. When we were within an hour of our destination the most beautiful thunder and lightening storm erupted. We were so happy to be caught in it and to be so close to the warm and wonderful Bar and Hostal Frances in Guillena where we are to stay the night. We quickly showered and headed down stairs to enjoy a nice glass of wine and some wonderful Iberian ham and cheese. We are quite the celebrities having spent the night in Sevilla and witnessing the Semana Santa celebrations. 

We are feeling refreshed and at peace in our souls as we began this trek. It will be close to 1000 km and we are excited to see what God would have for us. I think we smiled most of the day, excited to be back on the road again and enjoying the unencumbered life.

Thinking of you so very much. This time gives us hours to reflect on what we are so very thankful for. You are at the top of this list. You are loved.

Buen Camino

Semana Santa in Seville Spain

Semana Santa

Holy Week , or Semana Santa, as it is known is Spain is a jubilant celebration. While it is infamous and quite festive in Seville and AndalucĂ­a it is defined by its stunning processions. Each of these processions typically boasts two intensely adorned floats, one of the Virgin Mary and the other of a scene from Christ's Passion. You can not help but be in awe of the lavish decoration of these incredible creations as they slowly pass before you accompanied by the music of coronets and drums. It is hard not to get caught up in the pageantry and emotion of this celebration. Underneath each float, you can  barely make out the rows and rows of feet. There are up to forty men, called costaleros, who haul the float on shoulders and control its swaying motion. In fact, they practice so much and are so in sync with each other that the realistic figures on top look as if they were walking along to the music.

Impossible to miss are the seemingly endless rows of nazarenos, or penitents, who walk along with the float. You may even see many nazarenos walking barefoot, which is pretty impressive, considering some of the processions last up to 14 hours. This is to signify their remorse of sins and desire for true penance.

As with any cultural celebration, Spain's elaborate Semana Santa was for centuries a work-in-progress. The starting point for its extensive history is clearly the death of Christ, from which it takes its subject, however the celebration that occurs today is the result of centuries of evolution.

We are in awe of these celebrations. While it is not our particular custom we have to admire the intensity of feelings and their commitment of this most Holy celebration. Tomorrow we begin to walk the Via de la Plata. We are aware that Semana Santa is celebrated through out Spain and although the customs are a bit different we are excited to be here.

Buen Camino.

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Gift

The Gift

For those of you who know me well, you know of my love for travel and adventure. From my very early years when my sisters and I would travel around the neighborhood with every thing we needed for an adventure in the back of our small red wagon ( I don't take much more than I did back then) I have always been smitten with wanderlust and the desire to take the road less traveled. As the seasons go by I find I am becoming more enamored with this 'affliction'.

Last fall when we were walking along the Portuguese Camino we met a couple from Germany. Like us, they had walked some of the Camino's before. They said they understood, we had the 'affliction', almost like an addiction to cross country walking. We smiled as we nodded in agreement with them. We completely understood what they meant.

Today we head off for another walk. After the reminder to be flexible as we travel (AKA Space Available travel) we will start our adventures in Sevilla, Spain where we will begin to walk the Via de la Plata aka the Silver Road. Another road less traveled, we will meander through the heart of Spain where we hope to experience an even more rural Spanish culture and immerse ourselves in another life. Places like El Real de la Jara, Villafranca de los Barros, and Zamora to name a few. We are excited to see and to savor what we have not seen before. We are ready for the ease and fulfillment walking brings us.

We find we yearn for these times as if each passing day reminds us that these times are a gift to us from our Creator. We have been instilled with the  desire to travel this way in this season of our lives. We do not know the exact number of days in this season but know we would be foolish to waste any of them. So onward we go.

As always, we carry you in our hearts, wishing you were along side of us to share in these moments. Looking forward to the times we are together again sharing life.

Until then, Buen Camino.