Walking out at dawn I realised I’d been on the very edge of town and skirted around it through an industrial area. I was taken by the artistry of the car breakers.
The first olive groves actually had grass between the rows. Was this the work of some radical organic farmer or merely sensible intercropping.
The land here was very sandy leaving tracks of wildlife and tractors.
An hours climbing to the high ground of the day and I was pleasantly relived to finally come to another species of tree. Aleppo pine and plenty of herbs, the scent of which filled the still morning air.
The previous morning, surrounded by mile upon mile of olive I was sure I could smell the oil, a not very pleasant odour normally only noticed around the mills at processing time.
Another change of crop was a plantation of almonds, although the eagle eyed reader may have spotted a picture in the last post of rows curving over a hillside.
And then for the first time this trip I was off the farm tracks and on a woodland one, running down between the pines and past a strange enclosure that looked like it had been used for pigs.
It was literally and figuratively downhill from there and back to the olives before a break in the form of an remote controlled aircraft landing strip. These toy flying zones are immensely popular in Spain for some reason and I’ve come across them in many of my ramblings here.
Kenny and friends seem to enjoy their time here, flying high maybe.
I had to cross the AVE high speed train line which although not pretty is a monument to Spain’s love affair with mega infrastructure projects. They seem to have the space to push these things across the country with gusto.
And then on the last leg into town across another area of flat arable land I past the ruins of the big watering infrastructure of the past. Huge pump houses now derelict.
I arrived to find the place just setting up for a weekend of fiesta revelry.
The campsite I’d booked for a shower, phone charging, clothes washing etc was rammed and no quiet corners for me to bivvy in so they lent me a tent complete with mattress for 2€ and erected it next to an extended family and all their mates intent on partying.
Before I left home I’d discovered that the Donkey Sanctuary charity for whom we foster donkeys had a affiliated Spanish branch here, so I hiked over for a chat and look about.
An interesting place, if your interested in donkey sanctuaries. Almost a reverse situation to Ireland in terms of donkey care. All feed brought in, dry paddocks, hot conditions, actually an environment they are genetically designed for. About 80% of their funding comes from England and they( and their new sister sanctuary in Extremadora) take in donks and mules and the odd horse from all over Spain as well as Italy and France.
That poor specimen wouldn’t have made the grand in the flamboyant display of horsemanship that went on in Piedra that evening.
Macho posturing and horse grooming at their finest, and the señoritas weren’t to be outdone.
The Main Street was closed and the riders had to pelt up the hill and catch a steamer rolled on a wire with a little wooden pin, presumably to catch the eye of one of the exquisite beauties watching from the sidelines.
It went on for hours.
The weary walker couldn’t stay up for the late night procession of the Virgin through town, but I got a sneak preview in the cathedral of her flower bedecked podium(?)
Of course there was no rest to be had at fiesta camping and me and my outsider neighbour, tossed and turned through the hilarity till they collapsed about 2am.
Up at 6am and thinking of singing loudly I instead snuck quietly away to join a track alongside the railway.
I carried on beside the railway into the rising sun and , at last, towards the mountains.
With the occasional building to add interest. Some old and abandoned, some old and refurbished, and one a bizarre mix.
I got as close as I was going to get to the famous lagoon. Still horizontal smudge across the background there was no chance of spotting the pink flamingos.
Then came the tough part, though thankfully the sky clouded thinly, as I made my way across a vast rolling ocean of earth.
It reminded me very much of crossing the Meseta on my first Camino. Mind numbing. But lacking visual stimulation I added aural and the music filled my mind, my body and my soul and I fair flew along to the tunes of the maestro who is Baramus.
You need a zen like state at times to be happy covering distance where the horizon never seems nearer.
Shaken out of my reverie by the sight of Campillos on a now changing horizon I was able to leave inner space and Evie’s details like the mud cracked ground.
Entering the town I passed the grand cathedral where a wedding was taking place.
Unfortunately the edifice viewed from my hostel room didn’t mimic the finer architectural details.
And so I prepare for the hardest two days of the trip. Long stages, nowhere to get food or drink and big mountains.
And a tight deadline. There’s a plane to catch.