On the trail again and the going has been hard.
Not the route itself ,taking a couple of days to get from the coast up through the hills to an altitude of 590mt at Villanueva de la Concepcion followed by an ascent to a pass at 900mt through El Torcal and down to Antequera at 570mt.
Not much to complain about in that but although the mind has been willing the flesh has been weak.
A very extended 60th birthday party resulted in a weakened immune system, allowing a nasty dose of man flu to hit on the first day out.
I’m walking with two friends from Ireland and two of us were struck with the hot and cold fever, coughs and sweats.
We didn’t get going from the church of Santiago in Malaga till about 12.30
So pushed up through the suburbs in the noonday heat, stopping at Junta de Los Caminos after 11km to light some candles for the three peregrino amigos at the wayside shrine and have a late lunch.
It was another 12.5km to our beds so we push d on with h an ETA of 6.30. Half an hour later we finally got off Tarmac and ran into problems with bad signage leading us astray and a detour of a few kms as the moon rose and the sun set. With our destination finally insight we hurried/staggered on to the final hurdle- a steep descent followed by an ever steeper ascent up through the winding narrow passageways of a the towns, stopping every now and again to ask directions to the albergue (always further always up).
We were very lucky when, at about 8pm, we came upon it there was a member of the civil protection outside.
They look after the albergue for pilgrims there and he was able to give us keys and show us the set up.
A shower food and bed quickly followed, after a 26km first day.
Next morning we were out by nine and lost by ten. Somehow we missed a turn on the track, but we realised quite quickly and could see on the map how to get back on track a little while later.
Beautiful weather again-blue Sky and sun (hot- should have started earlier) and lovely scenery with innumerable ranges of hills fading into the distance and the trail winding gently through the surprisingly empty countryside of grain fields and almond and olive groves, dotted with vast abandoned fincas.
We could see our destination, Villanueva de la Concepcion long before we got there, descending to cross the river Campanillas on stepping stones and taking dirt roads that had recently been very muddy up and around the low hills
before the final exhausting climb up to the village where the my manflu wasted body collapsed into the albergue bed on arrival, temporarily revived for a dinner out, and shivered , coughed and sweated through another long night.
We had been sharing the albergues with a Swiss women who had done a few Caminos with her adapted shopping bag trolley, loading it to the handlebars with bags of kit and dragging it behind her on a network of straps. She’s had to tackle some rough ground with it but overall it seems to work for her.
Arriving in Antequera she announced she wouldn’t stay at the same albergue as us if there was only one dormitory as she didn’t want to put up with our coughing, wheezing and snoring anymore.
She’s heading for Merida, 3 weeks into my trail so I guess she’ll be avoiding me for a while yet.
I had woken with a clearer head and was able to properly enjoy the days walk for the first time, feeling a bit of energy return.
Down into the historic centre of this city in the very heart of Andalusia, to our albergue in the church of Santiago where our last fluless man had to go to a clinic to get his infected swollen finger sorted and the church youth group did some serious skipping in our little plaza.