Mérida to Aljucén to Alcuéscar

Apr 27 – Back on the road for an easy 12 mile day of flat terrain.  Got to pass by the aqueducts one more time as the sun came up.  So long, Mérida!

A reminder of how far we have yet to travel.

The nice folks of Mérida built a bike path alongside the highway, which gave us a way to walk safely out of the city.

Several miles out, we walked around the Proserpina dam, built by the Romans to provide water for the aqueducts of Mérida. Quiet and so pretty in the morning light.

We met a couple from Montreal who are walking their fifth Camino, and were passed by two bikers. We walked through a little town with an open church (a woman was cleaning inside) and we stopped for a quiet moment.

Walking into Aljucén, we saw some Camino-themed graffiti at the highway underpass.

Aljucén is a town of 247 souls, according to Wikipedia, but it has three alburgues and two restaurants that cater to pilgrims.  There is no hostal near this town where it is possible to get a room with a private bath, so this will be the first of our Alburgue Days.

At an alburgue, you get a bunk bed, access to a shared hot shower and a toilet, an outdoor washtub and line for laundry, and access to a shared refrigerator and stove.  What you don’t get is sheets, towels, shampoo or, usually, privacy. A diehard pilgrim spends every night of his/her Camino in an alburgue, at a nightly rate of $11-13 per person.  We have been carrying shampoo, a lightweight travel towel, and silky traveler’s sheets / pillowcase on the chance that we would need them (the traveler’s sheets are really a miracle – they fold into a sack the size of a little packet of tissue, and only weigh a few ounces).  We picked the Alburgue Annalena because the pictures online showed that the bunks were in four bedrooms instead of in one big dormitory.  As it turned out, no one else chose this alburgue, so we had the whole house to ourselves.  Annalena came by at dusk to check our passports and wish us Buen Camino.

472 miles to go.

Apr 28 – Woke up to a cold, windy morning with rain in the forecast.  Even though the rain had not started when we left the alburgue, we opted to put on our raincoats because it was so cold.  Within an hour, a cold rain started to fall.  Not many pictures today.  We were passed by a woman from Holland and a man named Christian from northern Germany.

Although we only walked 11 miles today, I was beat by the time we got to Alcuéscar, from walking into the wind.  We passed the alburgue and decided we deserved a night in a hostal.  Unfortunately, the Hostal Olivo was overpriced, with very mediocre food, and no wifi.  When it rains, it pours.  461 miles to go.

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