A blessing of solitude

Oh that glorious walk between Monesterio and Fuente de Cantos… No words or pictures would do it justice. It was without a doubt the most beautiful stretch of walking I encountered on my mini-camino (that is, the part between Sevilla and Cáceres) and it lifted my heart beyond expectation.

The weather was overcast and clouded, however fast winds made for an ever changing scenery and shadows travelled over the endless planes in a matter of minutes. The fields were glowing with colour, mainly the bright yellow of tiny flowers and the deep green of moist grass.

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The fields seemed to take over the colour of the Camino. Some of them were bright as gold.

The road soon let me into a sea of infinity. This is the Spain I love so much: a landscape that seems endless, with nothing surrounding you but waving hills and heavy skies. A landscape in which one could easily drown.

I walked as slow as I could, with a constant grin on my face, and thanked the heavens for this blessing of solitude. Every so often, when the sky would break open and the sun would warm the otherwise cool spring air, I’d sit down and paint. Then I’d lie down in the grass, close my eyes and listen to the silence. There wasn’t a sound to be heard but the rustling of plants and the humming of bees. And I had all the time in the world to enjoy it.

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Great views and heavy clouds

IMG_20170324_105734cropLOWRESHalfway through, just when Fuente de Cantos came in to sight for a moment (at that point we still had 10km to go), I met German R again and he was kind enough to take this lovely picture. We walked together for a while, chatting a little and rejoicing lots. It was the first time we talked, as during the previous days we had only exchanged nods and Buen Caminos. I instantly took a liking to R, a generous and good natured man with lots of stories to tell.

After a while I continued alone again, still amazed by the vastness of the landscape that unfolded. The Camino sure is full of surprises: one day you’re walking next to a main road, the next you suddenly find yourself surrounded by nothingness. Where did all the farms and highways go? R had pointed out it was smart of me to bring an emergency whistle (as he spotted it dangling from my backpack), but sure enough it wouldn’t help me here. For miles and miles there wasn’t a soul to hear me. The loneliness didn’t scare me though: it freed my heart and mind.

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I loved the fields full of yellow flowers and the rough tracks that ran through them.

Upon arriving in town I was greeted by a flock of goats blocking the way. My feet were tired and my body had gone cold. Perhaps I had walked a little too slow and took a little too many breaks, but I didn’t regret it. Instead, I made my way to a private pensión and booked a double room with sheets. Great was my surprise when C, the Canadian woman who had been part of our initial pilgrim-group, walked in to be my room mate. Seeing her again was the icing on a perfect-day-cake.

R and I went straight for a lunch menu. It was already 3pm and I was starving; washing and cleaning could wait. The Venta del Gato restaurant (on the Eastern edge of town, across the N-630) served wonderful food: omelette with local ham and mushrooms, succulent meat with crisp fries (not always a given) and delicious home made dessert. Upon returning to the hostal I took advantage of the luxurious facilities and had a bath instead of a quick shower. I hadn’t gotten this pampered in days and slept like a queen in the comfy bed and quiet room.

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River crossing. Luckily I didn’t have any real trouble with any of the streams. Although still early spring, the water levels were rather low and there was always a way to keep the feet dry.
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Endless landscapes all around

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