Today took me over the 400 km mark, and I have seen a sign saying 375 km to Santiago. To give readers an idea, after nearly three weeks, I am three days walk (approx 70km) to the East of Léon in the diagram above. I am still up on the Meseta at about 900m and probably will be until Léon.
Nobody skipped breakfast in the luxury hotel. After all, it was a 17 km walk to the next (small) village with nothing in between and at least two of us had no food left in our packs. We had to refill. On leaving I found I had made a tactical mistake that no Boy Scout would have committed. I had believed the weather forecast and the blue sky view through the window, and exited the hotel into a cool, breezy, cloudy day wearing only a T shirt. It was about 8 degrees. I had packed my only fleece top into my transported pack to lighten my day pack for the long day. I had to keep telling myself I really didn’t feel the cold when it didn’t warm up all day. The patches of sun on your back as the low clouds scudded overhead were a great relief.
But an easy flat walk. The walk actually follows the ancient Roman Via Aquitana. The Roman road is still there two millenia later (I understand) – it is covered by the soil and pebbles that you see here. The Guide states that it was originally built (straight as an arrow) through marshland, and that it took 100,000 tons of rock that the Romans had to cart in to raise the road above the water flood marks. They were very impressive those Romans.
I had 27 km in total to walk today and walked the first 17km to that first village with my friends, Tom and Jenny, again.
Our conversations are now ranging from Spanish agriculture and wild flower varieties to politics, refugees, South African relatives in the First World War, the multiple uses of donkeys, the population of Tasmania and the Great Artesian Basin (I was embarrassed. Here I am exploring a foreign country, not knowing facts about my own country. I was asked if Tasmania was part of Australia – I had to think?).
( Tom: in September quarter 2016, Tasmanian population was estimated at 519,783 people, growing by a massive 2,880 people a year – Aust Bureau Statistics. 🙂
Great Artesian Basin extent:
A different destination type tonight: rather than the 4 star luxury hotel tonight I am staying, along with Angela and Denis, in a communal auberge a kilometre or so outside of the town of Terradillos de Los Templarios – an old Templar stronghold of which there are no remains. A nice meal of Ensalada Mixta, followed by Lomo (pork) and fries. Nothing like the Castilian Garlic Soup served on linen for the first last night in a restaurant full of old wooden beams and trusses and wonderful workmanship.
Now I have an announcement:
I am about to become a grandfather. Erin and Michael are expecting a baby in November. I’ve known for a while but was asked to wait till Erin and Michael were happy to tell their friends and the extended family. A happy time, a first grandchild for myself (and Penny), the 20th-something great grandchild for my mother, and the very first great grandchild for Michael’s grandma (Penny’s mother). Everyone seems happy and excited. I can hardly wait.
I was in France when I was told so will insist on being called ‘grand-père’ or ‘papy’ 🙂
This future event will also allow me to adopt a North Korean-like stance and threaten a certain member of the Saturday morning breakfast group with a campaign of mutually assured destruction (MAD) should she persist with the incessant photos and videos of her first grandchild 🙂