CAMINO MOZARABE: Monterrubio to Don Benito 16th/17th March 

42km/ 26km

What a difference a day makes.

Yesterday as I walked in the baking heat under a deep blue sky I contemplated how lucky I had been with the weather. More or less cloudless skies the whole trip. I had read reports in the albergue logs from pilgrims who had suffered struggling through muddy tracks and I had wondered when fording the rivers how it would be in the rain. I may find out tomorrow.

The day was grey when I awoke this morning and it got darker and darker. Spots of rain at lunchtime turned into a full on downpour just as I came into Don Benito so I found myself a bed and have been watching it come down all afternoon. There seems to be more forecast for tomorrow so the going could get muddy.

But it was different yesterday as I left Monterrubio.

The olives had returned and been painted white.

But mostly it continued to be a mix of holm oak and granite

before climbing up to a high plain of grain fields dotted with round stone wells.

I stopped at Castuera to have a look in the centre for information on the area of special protection of birds, a huge area of the countryside around here that contains loads of different valuable habitats and is rich in bird life. I know nothing of birds but had noticed lots of different types and heard some lovely song. There is a big drive on to increase tourism in the area and bird watching is one of the ways they are trying to do it by setting up hides and observation platforms and encouraging Casa rurals and places to stay out in the campo.

Unfortunately the museum of nougat was closed ! Apparently the town is famous for it and the building looked unusual.

Some of the paving on the outskirts of town looked a bit nougat ish.

Then it was onwards down the long trail again

Passed another granite quarry

until finally after 40km I walked through Campanario only to discover that the Albergue was another couple of km out of town on the converted railway station.

It was worth it though. Lovely building, two bed rooms, loads of sofas, dining room, washing machine etc with a bar next door!

Today the countryside was more open and treeless. More grain fields and fallow land, and wetland for the birds.

And some fields that would keep the stone pockets busy.

At the hilltop village of Magacela, surrounded by granite, there were remains of Neolithic, Roman, moorish pasts.

An unpromising entrance to La Haba a small place out in the plains led to an old town centre with venerable buildings.

And finally, as the rain came down, I was presented with this dilemma on my way into Don Benito.

Happy Paddys Day.

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