Villanueva de Algaidas to Encinas Reales

One false start then hills up, hills down. More hills. Beside olive groves, through olive groves. The best bit was finding my first fig tree with edible fruit, right at the start of the day in a small dip before the olives. Three very nice ripe figs! First time in my weeks in Tuscany and now Spain I’ve been able to pick them from a tree. Here most look desperately short of water. In fact, even the one blackberry hedgerow I found had no visible fruit it’s so hot and dry. 

On with the track, a GR route today as I had no camino map and its arrows didn’t start til I was out of the town. The camino, GR and a green route were the same for much of this section. Basically, all three were hills and the ubiquitous olives. Acres and acres of them. Some trees apparently over 100 years old and some very young ones. A few tractors busy flattening the ground under many of them. Wonder what that does to the soil over time? It’s so poor looking and rocky around this area anyhow. Guess the flattening is to do with harvesting. I’ll leave finding out about that for another year. 😏

The most interesting bit today was the little ‘town’ of El Cedron (approach into it is shown in the heading photo). A small collection of about 4 houses that was a Jewish town prior to the 15th or 16th century expulsion of the Jews. There was another, a Muslim town, presumably here just a little before their defeat, also under the aegis of the Catholic Royals (Isabel & Fred). I am unsure which town that was as I’d walked through a small (cafe free!) town with a similar name to the Muslim one earlier. So, confusing.

With the remnants of a Roman town yesterday beside the track it’s a long populated and long cultivated area. While I couldn’t find the Roman ruins I did find a milario, one of their distance markers, beside the track. So, what an interesting region it’s turned out to be.

Encinas Reales

By the time I arrived in Encinas Reales at 12:30 ish I was knackered. Absolutely knackered. Both my hat and I were wrecked! It’s looking tatty and that’s how I felt. Not surprising. Think of our day. No coffee, many km of hills on rough farm tracks, and the heat… Had I seen a taxi as I walked into this benighted town I’d have bought it and made my escape. 

Reality: no taxi, found town hall, collected police chief who drove me up the street to the albergue, gave me the keys after pointing out where the main part of town was. Left my stuff in the albergue and headed off looking for a restaurant. First was shut, so was second so I headed into the main area. 

The cafe owner provided coffee, said restaurants were shut for a fiesta (hmmm, Spain?), and that she could make me something. From seeing the raciones she had on display I wasn’t keen but she was making Russian salad. Usually swamped in mayonnaise, she hadn’t added it yet so i got the veggie mix with some mayo on the side. 

Mainly potato, lunch had a very positive effect. I stopped praying for a taxi, wondering about bus schedules and asking Scottie to beam me out. In fact, an hour later, after a hot shower as well, i decided to keep walking tomorrow. My hat looked better too as the sweat had dried a bit and some dust came off with a bit of shaking.

The distances seem to be a few km further than listed in my sources that I note, do vary considerably. I’d like to leave at the usual time, 07:30, on Thursday when there’s just enough light to see. However, the police chief doesn’t start work til 08:00 and the usual option of dropping the keys into a mailbox isn’t possible here. He said I can ring him and he may be able to pick them up earlier.

Encinas Reales albergue

Did you guess? Yes, I’m the only customer in the albergue again tonight. I have a single bed, in a semi single room, no bunks. There are bunks in two other areas. Not in mine. I have my own shower even! In truth, i had to use my neighbours as mine’s not the best. But, a hot shower after consecutive cold shower days. Luxury! And the albergue feels better than having last night’s 23 empty beds watching my every move. The good thing is no one has yet needed to comment on my snoring! Even being situated on a busy corner shouldn’t be a problem as most noise stops at 21:00 in these little towns.

Fingers crossed for two things: tomorrow is only 20km and has few or no hills (ha ha 🐖) and that I find a very nice, reasonably priced, hotel with a vacancy and in the centre of Lucena.

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