Needless to say the fiesta in Dona Mencia didn’t get going till after pilgrim bedtime. I vaguely heard some music and cheering in the night but not nothing to disturb the sleep of the weary.
The route out in the morning led me up into the olive cloaked hills again with far ranging vistas across the uninhabited landscape dotted with the remains of grand old fincas.
On the outskirts of Baena I came upon this rather dispiriting marker post,
before entering the seemingly quiet town,
that suddenly came alive with drumming and centurions.
Legions of them, in different squads, marching around the narrow spectator lined streets. I moved on before the finale, past a nice graffiti dog
and millions of caterpillars of the processionary moth that have been a feature of the trail the last few days.
Trying to avoid them as they marched back and forth across the track mad it look as though I was hop scotching to Santiago.
The increasing heat made the 20km remaining to Castr del Rio seem a long way through the olives and alongside the convolutions of the Guadajoz river.
I found my way to the local police station for the key to the albergue I had to myself situated in a fine big old town house on the church plaza, where the storks nest on the bell tower.
Yet another beautiful ancient city with layers of Roman, Moorish and Spanish influence and infrastucture.
I decided to make the jump and go for Córdoba in one stage rather than two. Sign says 36km, more accurate guide says 39km.
The landscape shifted, less rugged, more rounded then rolling. Olives giving way to grain.
Soon I was reminded of walking the Meseta on the Camino Frances , miles and miles of open skies and limitless horizons of shelter less , hedgeless grain fields.
No one lives out there and the silence was broken only by the heavy buzz of insects rather than chainsaws and the engine of distant tractors fulfilling their endless tasks across the vast prairies.
Again the heat got too much and I had to rest up for an hour. I had thought of camping on route and leaving 10 or so I’m for theorning but the high empty country was not inviting so I carried onandon and with 35km done and twilight approaching, when a jeep pulled up alongside and offered a lift, I didn’t refuse.
The albergue is an amazing facility right in the heart of the old city next to the cathedral, with courtyards,lounges, study areas and dining hall. 20€ for bed and breakfast in a twin bed room.
I was going to have a day off here but I feel like I’m in a hurry to get home at the moment ( probably not a good thing) so after a look around the awe inspiring Mezquita and a blog posting I may head into the blistering heat again.