Puebla de Sancho Perez to Zafra

Apr 20 – Today is a Short Walk Day.  We had the option of walking three extra miles yesterday (which would have been a 17 mile day – boo) to get to Zafra, but opted to stop in Puebla instead, sleep in, have a leisurely breakfast, read the news, then proceed on to Zafra this morning so we would have all afternoon to see the sights. Zafra is the first big town we’ve come to, with “things to see” according to TripAdvisor.

We left Puebla around 10am. The sun was already shining!

The walk was mostly a sidewalk alongside the highway, crossing over the railroad tracks.

We passed a beautiful field of red and yellow flowers.

And a house with a bright pink wall that caught my fancy.

Once in Zafra, our first order of business was to stop at the alburgue, where we were told that we can (finally) purchase our pilgrim credentials.  We were unable to get them in Sevilla due to all the Semana Santa hoopla, and have been striking out in every town since.  A credential, or Pilgrim Passport, is the official document that you get stamped and dated in every town you walk through to prove that you actually traveled the Camino.  Today was our lucky day.

The man who runs this alburgue is the president of Friends of the Camino, and was happy to give us our credentials plus a German map.  A lot of Spanish people think we are German on this trip – what’s up with that?

I liked the artwork on the alburgue wall that showed our progress thus far: sore feet in Sevilla, getting lost in Almadén, taking pictures of pigs in El Real, and surviving the water hazard at Fuente de Campos.  I guess everyone has more or less the same Camino experience!

We are staying at the historic Hotel Cervantes.  Don Quixote and Sancho Panza greeted us in the lobby.

We dropped off our packs and went off to explore the town.

El Plaza Grande

I don’t know what this is, but I like it!

There is an old castle here, which is now a hotel.

There is an old church here, Nuestra Señora de la (Our Lady of the) Candelaria, containing paintings by Francisco de Zurbarán, who was born right up the road in Fuente de Cantos, and is a big deal in these parts.   The church was dedicated in 1543.

Like every town, there are old men gathered to sit in the sunshine.

There are narrow streets where shoppers walk.

We asked at our hotel if there was a place where pilgrims could get an early supper.  The receptionist cheerfully directed us to the restaurant around the corner, which did indeed have a Camino shell on the front.  They didn’t open until 9pm.  Not acceptable!  We walked around, looking for fast food options:  pizza 8pm, gyros 8pm, Chinese 8pm.  We were standing at the door of the Chinese place, trying to decipher the Spanish menu, when the proprietress popped her head out and said, “Siete y media”.  7:30!  She reinforced our understanding with hand motions and a gap-toothed grin.  We felt like we’d won the lottery!

So we were standing at her door at 7:30pm.  She let us in and gave us a delicious three course banquet that couldn’t be beat, with real fresh vegetables, spicy chicken, and absolutely zero pork or potatoes!  Our first Nice Person of Spain award goes to the proprietress of Restaurante Chino Oriental!  526 miles to go.

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