Castilblanco to Almadén de la Plata

Apr 14 – Woke up early this morning with the conviction that we must move on.  The morning was cool and misty, which we took as a good sign.  Without any buses scheduled today, Jim said we would walk, and put out our thumbs and hope for a ride to get us at least part of the 18 miles (28km) to the next town.  No trails today – the entire hike is along the side of the asphalt road. Surely on this holy fiesta day, one good hearted person would stop for two old Peregrinos?

On the edge of town there was a bar open for business, so we stopped for some coffee (café con leche) and toast with butter and ham.  I looked at the other patrons of the bar – all older men, some drinking coffee, and others drinking whiskey or brandy at 9am.  I asked Jim if he thought it would be a good idea to ask if anyone was traveling north to Almadén, but he replied that this was not usually a fruitful strategy.  Better to show we were willing to walk, but would appreciate a ride.

So we hiked down the roadway through the grey and misty morning.  It was a very quiet road, but twelve cars passed us by, with our smiles on and our thumbs out.  Most waved left or right to indicate that they were turning soon, so therefore could not pick us up. Some made no eye contact.  Three bicyclists passed us as well.  

At about the four mile mark, after a long stretch of no farms and absolutely no traffic, a car going in the opposite direction stopped and the driver rolled his window down, asking if we wanted to hire his taxi to take us to Almadén for 30 euro.  The price seemed a little high (we had already discussed offering 20 euro to anyone willing to drive us all the way), but I remembered the joke about the drowning man who passes up three offers of help, saying God will provide, then asks St. Peter at the Pearly Gates why God didn’t save him.  “God sent you a raft, a boat and a helicopter – you have to meet Her halfway!”  We got in.

So now we are in Almadén de la Plata, named for an old silver mine, where it is still a fiesta day, and no stores are open.  The taxi dropped us off at the municipal alburgue, whiched looked clean with a large room full of bunk beds, but communal sleeping is always our last choice.  Although Booking.com said there were no rooms available at the hostals in town, it is not yet noon and we have nothing to lose by trying our luck.  At Casa de Concha, the door was open and a lady was cleaning the restaurant. We got a private ensuite room without any trouble, for only a bit more than we would have paid at the alburgue.

We walked through the quiet town, and saw the church with the usual complement of stork nests on the roof.  Storks are considered to bring good luck (as well as new babies) and their nests are encouraged throughout Spain.  Have you ever heard the call of a stork?  Not at all musical – like the sound of a stick being dragged across a washboard.  

We peeked into the church, expecting to find another bunch of silver- bedecked pasos, but instead found…women praying!  A group of ten or so, doing their rosaries aloud.  First time this trip we’ve found anyone actually doing what people do when it’s not Holy Week!  A refreshing change of pace – we sat and listened to the soothing drone of their voices blending together.

Our midday main meal consisted of pasta in tomato and cheese sauce, short ribs in brown gravy, and the ubiquitous fried potatoes.  So good! So much! So full!  I may never eat again.On tv, the Semana Santa parades from Sevilla continued all day long.  From time to time, a float would stop under a balcony, and a woman would sing out something akin to the Muslim call to prayer – definitely not melodic, but long and sort of screechy.  I don’t know if I’m ever going to figure these customs out!  Here’s another – Sunday is not advertised here as Easter, but as the Fiesta of Judas. Go figure!  578 miles to go.

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