Tag Archives: Castilblanco de los Arroyos

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.

Guillena to Castilblanco de los Arroyos

Apr 12 – Having walked 13 miles yesterday, I figured that today’s 12 mile trek would be a snap.  It is another beautiful day, cool enough in the early morning for a sweatshirt.  We walked confidently out of Guillena, following our yellow arrows.  Just out of town, we saw a pond, with trees reflected perfectly in its calm surface.

After a bit of highway walking, we found the trail, which looked like it might provide more shade than yesterday.  

Once again, plenty of spring wildflowers in bloom.

We passed a castle in a farmer’s field.

We saw a local family out for a walk, and were passed by a singing cyclist, but otherwise we had the day to ourselves.  Except for some burros.

As we approached our destination, we encountered a sign meant to encourage us.  Of the original 1000 km trek, only 927 left to go!

Unfortunately, as the afternoon heated up, my pace slowed down and we made it to town about two hours later than planned.  When I removed my socks, we surveyed the bloody damage to one of the toes on my right foot.  Jim proclaimed tomorrow a rest day.  Hallelujah!

Apr 13 – I am very much enjoying my rest day.  This is a nice little town, very clean and friendly. We walked down the street to a bar for coffee, and over to a bakery for some bread and ham for breakfast.  Looking at the map of our next segment, it will require an 18 mile walk along a roadway, with no towns in between. After my poor performance yesterday, Jim doesn’t think I’m ready for that (and I agree!), so he suggested we look for a bus to take us at least part of the way.  We asked around and found the central square and a man with information about buses.  There are several buses that go back to Sevilla, but only one that goes north, and it runs only once a day in the late afternoon.  “What time tomorrow?”, we asked in blissful ignorance.  “¿Mañana!?  No! Es impossible!”  Turns out that tomorrow, Good Friday, is the biggest fiesta of the whole year.  No buses run tomorrow!  Crap.

We had our main meal at lunchtime (ham soup with hard boiled eggs in it, and chicken with couscous).  We walked around in the afternoon and waited until after siesta time (2 – 6pm) for the stores to reopen so we could buy some supper, but it turns out that tonight the fiesta begins, and the supermarket and all the shops are closed.  Thanks to our experience last Sunday in Sevilla, we knew what happens next.  We walked down the block to the church, and watched the men decking out the pasos with flowers.  We saw Jesus carrying his cross, dead Jesus in a glass coffin, and two sorrowful Marys.

Every man, woman and bambino was out in front of the church by 7pm.  Fewer penitents in pointy capriotes, but a very credible brass band and lots of swaggering costaleros ready to do their part in lifting the heavy floats.  We are told they each weigh about a ton.

This time we were able to see the pasos leaving the church door and being negotiated down the steps.  The townsfolk applauded when the men reached the street and turned them 90 degrees for its walk down the block.

It took about half an hour to move each of the pasos down the street. We didn’t stay to the conclusion of the festivities, so I can’t tell you how it all turned out.  The music, drums and tolling of the church bells continued until well after midnight.  I wonder what tomorrow will bring?