Yesterday we spent most of the afternoon in a bar. The woman in charge was initially very abrupt and quite unfriendly. Sure, she placed beers, cokes and tapas in front of us at regular intervals but she was very unhappy. A few hours of the two Canary Island caballeros and she became very friendly. (I wasn’t surprised!) We thought she had a domestic issue after having initially suspected she didn’t like peregrinos.
They shared a room and I had my own, again. The accommodation on this camino has been very good. It was another donativo, where you give what you think reasonable. They give €5 and I had been doing that anyhow.
Hueneja to Alquife
White towns (known as pueblos blancos) nestled in hills, acres of trees up and down hills, dry river beds: ‘same, same,’ you say. No. Today had those and more.
We all left together at about 07:20. Too early for the track we had to climb in the dark. Ok going up but I wasn’t keen going down.
Breakfast about an hour later in Dólar. Strange name. Yes, a gorgeous little white village nestled in the hills covered now by almond trees, not olives, and with two handsome caballeros in front.
Bar: they stayed, having an aniseed drink after breakfast and I headed off expecting to see them in the next town, Ferreira. Yes, another gorgeous white town nestled under a hill and surrounded by almond trees.
Bought some bread next to an old Arab farmhouse or something initially well fortified and kept on. Couldn’t find the bar! The woman in the breadshop said it was at the entrance to the town. Hmmm, guessing which street is heading towards a local’s idea of the entrance is not always obvious and I’ve been 90% unsuccessful to date. So I missed the bar and kept going.
Found a couple picking up almonds by hand. They said they do it every day but it obviously could not be commercially practical. And then I heard the delightful sound, yet again, of water running in concrete channels alongside the track.
A classic castle. Not surprising given this is in the middle of the plain that lies alongside the Sierras, and between two centres of power and commerce, Granada and Almería, important for a very long time. I’m guessing this was even in the pre-Roman times too and not just after the invasion by the Moores in the 8th century.
As I got closer the castle just became more and more impressive, looming over the town of La Calahorra. Yes, another delightful little white town but with its own castle. Up near the cemetery coming into town an old guy insisted on trying to tell me something. Despite his lack of teeth, and his accent, I finally figured he was saying free food today at the town hall. Seemed highly improbable but I had to walk past the ayuntamiento anyhow. Obviously I misunderstood him! Town wasn’t dead but it wasn’t busy either and there was no sign of free food anywhere. 🤓
So, where was the bar? Heaven knows as I didn’t see one. I’d hoped I’d meet the guys there. So, I kept going again as I knew we would be staying at the same place tonight as we had the same recommendation, albeit it from two different sources.
Two ways to get to the next town: the long back way or along the road. Which way would the camino go? Yup, the back way. So, more almonds. And I finally saw almonds being harvested commercially. Tractor extends an arm that grips the tree. At the same time ‘bat wing’ structures open out on each side under the tree so that when the arm shakes the tree the nuts are collected in the large ‘wings’.
A nest of dogs, not tied up for once, insisted I kept moving. Loud barkers but not brave! And it’s usually the little ones that make the most fuss.
I made very good time into Alquife with such an early start and just the one stop. Helps that it’s considerably cooler here, higher and closer to the Sierra Nevadas.
Anyhow, I was wandering around wondering where on earth to go. Sat in the town square to ring the phone number for the casa rural and an old bomb pulled pulled up beside me. Yes, my lovely caballeros, B and M, had rung Manuel, in the casa rural, shortly before and said where they were and that I was 30′ or so ahead. So the owner picked me up in town and took me out to his place.
Again, two rooms with beds, a bathroom and wait, there’s more! Wifi and, washing. Manuel will wash all our dirty things, house us, provide dinner tonight and, wifi, for €20. Seems pretty reasonable to me. And again, I have a room to myself. Oh, and it’s another white Andalucían town to boot.
Another exciting tidbit about a previous town, Finaña, was that the Catholic royals slept there for one night. The tourist guide didn’t know that and could only guess where. Can’t have been easy for the Queen riding here either side saddle or in a coach. They were on their way to take possession of Granada after ‘their’ defeating the Moores. Hmm, they must have come by boat, through Almería.
I’m not sure what I’ll do once I finish this camino. I’ll have about 10 days afterwards before I head home. One or two days of the equal (to Erwin’s) best cheese cake in the world and I doubt I’ll need to stay in Granada much longer again. I’m tempted to go back to Almería. I missed a very good museum there from what the caballeros have said. Who knows. Days to go yet. Just completed day 5 of the walk to Granada. Four stages to go and a lot can happen in that time!
Spanish? Have I died of frustration on a linguistic island you ask? Tried to escape the guys because of it? NO! The guys have been wonderful! M helps every time I get lost in the language and B has modified how he speaks to me and I now understand a lot more of what he says. They have done so much more for my understanding Spanish than my last few weeks in school did. I’m so grateful to them for the efforts each has made. I could not have been luckier with my compañeros on this walk. They are truly caballeros: really nice, kind and always thoughtful guys. Plus, they are both very interesting and speak no english!