The Meseta might be beautiful but it’s hot, it’s flat, and it bites. I was very pleased to arrive in Villacazar de Sirga this afternoon. We’re some of the lucky ones, we have a reservation. While I waited for my sandwich (it took forty-five minutes to arrive, everything here is under pressure) I watched weary pilgrims of all ages, shapes, and sizes trudge past, each of them hoping for a bed. Many are limping, some have abandoned their shoes for sandals, even jandals. The unrelenting flatness is really tough on feet, joints, and spirits.
The albergues in this town are full – apparently one is closed at the moment – adding to the pressure for pilgrims who are walking in the full blast of the afternoon sun. At 3:00pm it was still possible to get a room – for a price. Soon, those, too, will be gone. Some choose to carry on, for another hour or two to the next town. I can only admire their determination.
Despite all this, before the burn of the sun sapped everyone’s energy it was easy to enjoy our walk. Much of it was alongside or near the canals and rivers.
The storks have gone but there is evidence that this is their habitat on church spires and even on specially constructed towers.
Although the going is tough at the moment there is a lot of support from the local people. As I walked across a pedestrian bridge, above a motorway, the drivers below tooted their horns and waved their support. In one small town a local man grabbed my hand, insisting I wait while he cracked fresh almonds for us. He did the same for those who followed. They were the most almondy almonds ever.
And, one woman was hard at work making sure we would find our way.
Despite the busyness of the place, Villacazar welcomes pilgrims. It has done since the 12th Century.
We paid our respects to the local tradition with a cold beer and a visit to the 13thCentury Santa Maria la Blanca.
Tomorrow, because: blisters, again!, we’re walking a grand total of five kilometres and we’ve booked a room in a Pensione. I’m looking forward to it.