Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Day one. Seville to Castilblanco de Los Arroyos. 40.4 kms


Well, here I am again. Another Spanish city and faced with another 1000 kms (600 miles) of who knows what. The first week of any new trek always brings the three ,'tions'. Exhilaration, anticipation and constipation, but as they say, this too shall pass. So, here we go, this is one of the longer days.

I go armed with an iPad containing an ever increasing list of names of those that want me to light a candle for their loved ones in Santiago de Compostela.  ( if  you would like me to do the same for you click     Here  ).

I have heard that there have been knife robberies on this stretch so I also go armed with my deodorant in my pocket in place of pepper spray, and a list of the most profane Spanish expletives I can find.  My memory is so bad that I have had to write them down so I may have to call for a time out if I am being robbed in order to retrieve the list from my pocket.

But first I will try a little friendly chat. ' Soy un sacerdote no tengo dinero.' Comes to mind, and with my ancient and somewhat scruffy walking gear I could pass for a pauper priest.

I had time before leaving and a visit to the cathedral was a must, of course, but the highlight of the day, depending which side of the convent de la Encarnacion one was on, came In the  entrance to this place. 

In the entrance porch I came across a large shelved turntable some four feet high recessed into a wall in such a way that I could not see behind it. There was a bell on the side so I pressed it. A female voice, presumably one of the nuns, came from within. It was then I wished a had at least a smattering of Spanish. I mumbled something fairly incomprehensible, even to me, and as I finished the turntable slowly revolved and a large bag of what looked like white crisps appeared. The Voice said something, I said 'no', and the crisps disappeared. I was to learn five minutes later that I was being offered communion wafers. I thought it might be wrong to take these, but had I, I might have been able to ' bless' in to submission any ne'er do wells.

And how did I know they were communion wafers?  Because a man came in and I asked. We had a very in depth conversation in sign language as the result of which he said something to the Voice and a bag appeared. It contained the left over bits from when they cut out the round wafers. He  gave them to me for a gift. There were enough in the bag to hold at least 100 masses. I thanked him he went on his way pleased he had done his good deed. I now had to decide what to do with the wafers. I found a solution but I will keep it to myself. Sufficient to say there are some well fed and quite holy pidgeons in Seville.  At least I know that the circular cupboard was not, as I originally thought, for putting abandoned babies in.

My broken wafers

The magic roundabout, not for abandoned offspring

Relaxing before the big hike

                                                                          Seville's high flyer.

So, how did it go? Well, it was a blooming long way for a first day and it didn't start off too well. No problem getting through the ciity,  it was too early for robbers to be about.  Got to the suburbs then lost the arrows. No maps or compass on this trek. It's find the yellow arrows or get lost. And me and there Italian men were lost. We found a young man waiting to cross the road and asked him where the way was. He pointed to a sign post. One of the men moved to reveal a yelllow arrow. His friends said something umcomplimentary to him and  we set off along a muddy track. Now we had a thunder storm last night and it rains watfalls here. Which meant the  path had turned to cloying thick boot grabbing mud, what should have taken an hour took nearly two. And to cap it all when we thought we had got to the end the road was completely flooded to knee level with no way round. So it was off with the boots and socks and hope there was nothing nasty lurking underneath the filthy water.

I covered the 22 mms to Guillena, fairly easy if unatractive walk. I did meet a Roman Senator on the way at the Roman theatre at Santiponce, we engaged in mortal selfie combat.

The afternoon was somewhat hard, in fact bloody hard. It was another 19kkms to Castilblanco Los Arroyos through scintillating beautiful countryside. Trouble was, it was a long steady haul along  a muddy track through olive groves. It was another battle with the mud my leg muscles were really humming. It was also hot and heat plus rain equals humidity. Now I was sweating buckets. When I eventually made it to the top of the hill the cascade of wild flowers that greeted me were stupendous. The rain had done It's job and a cascade of blues, yellows and purple invaded the senses. Among the small oak trees cattle ruminated as cattle egrets examined them for lunch. I was alone and it was beautiful. 

It was also very hot by now and I was not sorry to stumble into the hostel at Castlblanco de Los Arroyos, wash my clothes and find a bar. For the price of. pint they connected me to their wifi. Which is how come you are seeing this. I've also decided to grow a beard, I am so knackered at the end of each day that I can't be bothered phaffing around scraping off the whiskers. 

Tomorrow, we'll that's another day. We shall have to wait and see. But if you don't hear from me then I am not in wifi territory.



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