About this camino
Quite illogically, I’ve felt very unprepared for this camino, the Mozarabe from Malaga.
I’ve had to take myself in hand and to remind me that: I can do the daily distances, I’ll build up to the higher ones; wearing trail runners is fine, it’s dry and they were much better on the few hundred km with JP than heavy shoes or boots; my pack weight is ok, I’ve left a few kg in Madrid as I knew I’d need to carry more water than usual; I don’t have a sleeping sheet, and shouldn’t need it as I have a 3 seasons bag; no jumper, but I have a very light down jacket and a better rain jacket than previously; I don’t know where to stay, but I have Internet access and lists of albergues plus some towns will have hotels and hostales; it will be too dark to leave at 07:00 tomorrow, quite possibly true but I have a solar torch, much of the initial section will have street lights anyhow plus I’ll stop for coffee as soon as possible etc. etc. All soft objections I can rebut but that underpin my excitement and anxiety.
The one disappointment will likely be the loneliness. I don’t want lots of fellow walkers but I do like meeting the same people every now and then on a camino and walking with someone compatible. Besides, I chose this camino so I didn’t have to walk a Bourke or Pitt Street or the Gran Via equivalent, like the camino Frances.
The night before
I downloaded more maps. Silly, as I already had them. Belt and braces and more a comment on my state of mind.
And then there was the final wash😁. Well, the same lot of clothes was washed twice. Why twice? Ask the front loader! Front loaders without instructions always win. At least it’s only 2×28′. Better than my first time with the machine in Salamanca. I’ll swear it took 2.5 hours on one start! Felt like more.
In the morning
First was a noisy night. A sensible person would have noticed the bar below and chosen the second bedroom. People are out very late, talk noisily as they wander home and the sound echos in narrow streets fronted by 3 story buildings side by side. Like the four looking at something on the internet, and sharing the experience loudly.
Anyhow, the guy from the apartment rental company arrived at 06:58, as promised. I was impressed. He didn’t look around, just gave me my €150 and waited for the keys downstairs for the minute it took me to tie my shoes, pick up my gear and head down. I left the knobbly socks i bought in Madrid, a month ago, on the table and hoped he didn’t think I’d forgotten them. Doubly washed (bloody front loader + idiot) they were clean ++.
Off and walking 07:00 – 13:30, ~ 23.1 km
Leaving malaga in the dark and I could have been in one of many Spanish cities I’ve walked out from. A few street cleaners, a few bars open, people returning home after a long night, runners and lycra lads on bikes. After an hour of this I stopped, had toast and tomato plus a cafe con leche, a cafe latte.
Along the road, around a horrendous roundabout under an overpass and still walking on a road.
First town was Junto de los Caminos, after about 10km, and the route turned and onto a narrow rough road.
No yellow markings for the first five to eight km after Malaga then, some, then considerably more frequent markings. Often not where I needed them! Like, after a choice point rather than at or before it.
Up hills through dry river beds and on. Always tending up.
Did I mention the heat? Even though I left malaga at 07:00 I was warm then. A few hours later and it was very warm as I walked under a fierce sun. Lots of 50+ sunscreen on before I left but tomorrow I’ll have a long sleeved shirt on instead. No sun burning today despite the, at times, quite intense sun.
One strange sort of sub-town, a collection of houses. Perhaps it was one once. A guy hung out a window and pointed out the direction. I ruefully noted there was no cafe. He offered to make me coffee. I demurred and kept on. Was very kind but I thought I might be found there, needing dusting, in 5 years time if I accepted.
Up, down, rough track. Ever onwards and upwards. And then the dogs at a house on a corner gave me a rousing welcome. I quickly realised the owner was using english. Sure enough, a very British couple live there, like an escape to the country outcome. God knows why you would choose there unless it was cheap as I strongly suspect it was. In the middle of nowhere with rough tracks for access! I’m sure you’d get more house than in Bristol but, I’d met at least one local neighbour already!
Anyhow, he warned me I had 12 km to go, she said 9. Since Brits don’t use metric distance yet I don’t believe many are good at estimates of distance using it. I’d guessed 6km from the map and the time I’d walked. He offered me a lift to the next town, Almogia. Tempting, momentarily, but no point. I thanked them and kept on. I doubt either have walked that stretch up the hill behind their place. He said there was no shade, there is. He said it was hard, he wasn’t wrong about that though! Distance? I think my guess was closer at 6km. It’s an area some wrecked houses suggest people leave. The state of many almond trees, and the creek beds, suggests they are right to do so.
Thankfully it was dry. Rough and tough, with the rock underlayer, made it hard going up, combined with hot. Still, better for me than it being rough, tough, cold and wet!
Finally I could see the town, Almogia. Getting there was another story, up, along and down goat tracks. Finally, I arrived at the bottom of the town. It soars above, somehow sticking to the side of the steep hills. Did you guess where the albergue is? Up, up, and more up. The town is beautiful. Steep, whitewashed houses and stairs and more stairs.
Today is celebrating almonds, the big crop around here. So, lots of street signs and people dressed up, many at church (it’s Saturday) and it looks like there’ll be stalls up and down the main streets through the town tonight. Hopefully with lots of almonds!
As I walked ever upwards I was searching for yellow arrows and albergue signage. I was so lucky. I was accosted by a guy on a motorbike. Alfonso is the caretaker for the albergue and he told me he’d be up there in about 20′. Sure enough. A few minutes after I arrived, so did he. In a broad (Spanish) accent he told me about the key, what I had to fill in etc. It’s donativo and so you put €€ in an envelope, label it with your name or date, and stick it in a locked box on the wall. I never know how much to give. I hope €10 is ok as its €6 in Galicia so I made it more as I am very appreciative of his help and the place.
The room has 3 bunks and at one end, a bathroom. I’m furthest from the bathroom, bottom bunk because I had a free choice 😁.
First I wanted lunch. Not a big choice at the Bar Coco: salad and something meatie and potatoey for first course, lots of meat for second. I chose salad followed by meatballs.
I can again confirm: the romans left these guys to salads too early. While they went home and developed wonderful, Italian, salads, Spain stayed with shredded iceberg lettuce, tuna, tomato wedges etc. Not to die for, nor from. But just not as good as regular Italian options. More like the ones mum used to make but, with tuna and without the hard boiled egg. Salad and meatballs were fine and with 1.5L of water and 2 coffees cost…..drum roll…€8.00! I got value for money at that price. It’s very close to the albergue and the Día supermarket. May need another coffee later with the internet, albeit a slow one as I can’t download things in the albergue.
Back to the albergue. Hope I have someone else with me for the night. No one yet when I got back and still no one and its after 18:00. And I now reckon the clear walking boot tracks I’d seen along the track belong to a guy who was here on the 19/9/16, too early for us to meet with it now the 24/9/16.
Ahhh, a great hot shower, did my washing and had a rest. And download photos ready for whiffy. I said wifi in Bar Coco. She checked if I meant whiffy, so whiffy it is down here in this part of Spain. And it is too slow to use for even one photo. The cover photo I downloaded using 3G. Sorry. I have them ready to go but, we won’t live long enough for them to upload.
Regarding my fears of last night: trail runners were very comfortable and dusty socks can be washed, the 2 litres of flavoured water were sufficient for the walk. I drank only 1.5L en route, the rest when I arrived. Having the extra 1.5L with lunch was essential. Yes, I needed street lights at 07:00 and most went off at 07:45 by which time the natural light was sufficient. The accommodation sorted out, as always. Better than usual, meeting the albergue boss along the way so he was expecting me. So, I’m tired but had a good day.
My previously unstated fear was: what if I don’t enjoy it? Well, I mightn’t but, I did today and it’s one day at a time. When I don’t like it I’ll stop doing it. For a day or for the remainder of this trip. I have never in my life had as much freedom as now. Never! And I love it ❤️.