La Peza to Quentar

Energy please! Looking at the information I’ve got for this next section there is not one cafe after we leave town! Not one. And, nothing in this town may be open when we leave a bit after 07:00.  Except the temporary bull ring beside the statue of the, as usual, very well endowed bull.  That will be open still, I’m sure, ready for Saturday. Strange statue as the fate of the man on the ground is quite unclear! And not looking good.

Ok! So what should make a day of walking impossible:

rain – tick

distance – tick 

no coffee or food along the way – tick

no energy or enthusiasm for a long day – tick

hills – no, that’s usual and more interesting than extended flat sections!

Yes, we had it all today! And it was a great day. Why? Who knows? It’s silly to anticipate how it will be as the combination just makes it so different each time. 

We left the albergue a bit after 07:15 and soon discovered the town, La Peza, was dead at that hour. Not one bar was open so no breakfast, usually toast and tomato. No coffee or anisette. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. Nada. 

Poor M had to go back to the albergue at this stage and get a cup his grandmother had given him and that he’d unwittingly left there. Was caught getting the key from its hiding place and suspected of being a thief!

By then B and I were well on our way for the day. Nice sunrise. If you ignored the black clouds.

Double rainbow. And then the rain started. I’ll have to change my weather app! Wrong again…. The boys had heard on the radio that it might rain this morning. Yes. It did. 

Rain. On with the wet gear. Cold wind as we climbed higher onto the edge of the Sierra Nevadas. Happily well away from the snow. 

No towns. One town visible way over to the side, well off the track, about 15km in. No others. Not one. Mountains. More mountains and hills. Such a different landscape from yesterday, the types of rock and vegetation plus, we were higher. B and I stopped and shared a can of Red Bull. M caught up and we each had had a strawberry milk as well (90%milk, 10%?), and along the way, a few of my Werthers toffees. Hardly a decent intake for a serious walk of about 28km and 7 hours duration.

Soon after we could have chosen the road: 5km to Quentar. The Camino was another 15km. And I’m sure it was much more interesting than the road would have been. 😋

And so we continued, up and down hills, more hills. None especially high yet. One long one up and down. Found pine trees being milked. Outer bark was removed and a collector funnelled the sap running out into two cans below. Not a labour intensive job as the rate of filling looked very slow. 

One rough stretch beside the road was a bit rugged for 4 or 5km but generally the track was very good, except for the last bit. I’d read a suggestion that you should use poles coming down the last 2k. An unusual suggestion. One I’d now strongly concur with. A very rough stretch. Very. Also it had a few strange signs: for example, on one side of a narrow track is a yellow arrow and on the other a cross so you won’t continue. Hard to reconcile such a contradiction. Earlier it was unclear if we should be on the higher or lower track. We kept going!  The right thing to do it transpired.

At the highest point it was a bit misty in the clouds. And the hill rising above us on the right side was basically gravel. Looked like the lunar surface in a mist might look.

One severely eroded bit made me very glad I wasn’t alone. The track ended in a thick gravel tongue separated from the next part of the track by a deep little gully. You had to jump from the tongue to the restarted, downwards angled track. And you had to land on soft gravel on the steeply angled side or, slip down the gully. M made it look easy and gave me a hand. Alone, I’d have been quite concerned to try it, especially wearing a pack. 

Then the track got progressively better. Down, past more ripe blackberries, a couple of very small figs, and almonds and walnuts in their shells. Yes, we grazed.

Seemed to take forever to find the town. Finally, another white, old, Andalucían town clinging to a hillside. Who knew there were so many! And so beautiful. 

Forget finding the hostal at which we were staying! First, a bar. Coke, wine, coffee and food. Not much else mattered until afterwards.

Afterwards we had to climb back up to the start of the village. After food and drinks it was a lot easier. 

Nice hostal, owned by a German guy living in Spain for 30 odd years. €10 each and for the first time the three of us slept in the same room. And I was able to speak english: an english couple arrived after us, not walkers, just people revisiting spain. They lived nearby for two years, for work, two more in the Middle East and then retired back to the UK. We talked about British ghettos here and the risk of isolation. The manager, a German guy, speaks english, as does the owner and the Taiwanese woman who helped me get the washing done. 

The usual shared dinner, grazing on bread, cheese and salami while drinking coke or wine.

So, seemingly an impossible day after I’d run out of energy the day before. And it wasn’t. Despite all the factors suggesting the contrary, it was a really good day and my legs just worked. And worked. Why? Who knows! Who knows!

Even the hat was happy. Despite dust, showers and reshaping in my pack it was still travelling very well. I feel quite an obligation to it as it was made for a better life than I’ve given it so far. And yes, it will come home with me. 

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