Update October 16

October 16:  Day 11 update and Questions and Answers

I though I'd ask Hans a few questions on your behalf.  Questions are in bue, answers in black.  If you'd like to know something, email me at haloranch1@xplornet.com 

1.      How many people do you see/ pass/ pass you on a day during your walk?
Virtually none. So far over 11 days I have met 10 other pilgrims. Mostly you meet them at the albrgue at then end of the day. Last year I met that many in the first hour of the first day.

2.      How many pilgrims are in the albergues? 
Yesterday there were 5 including myself. In a couple of places there have been 2-4. At least snoring isn´t as much of a problm as last year. I expect the numbers to climb once I get to Salamanca as more people will start from there.

3.      does the host know how many pilgrims pass through his place each day?
Yes, because everything is recorded including your passport number.

4.      are the accommodations similar to last year, e.g. bunk beds?
Yes. In some places there are no albergues so we (Franck and I) have had to share a room in a hotel or hostal.


5.      when you stay in B & Bs or other places where there are no albergues, do you encounter other pilgrims?
Generally not.

6.      what's the typical dinner and breakfast that you eat?
Breakfast is typically "cafe con leche and tostada". Dinner can be everything from a typical 3 course dinner in a bar/restaurant to somethng cold from a tin (sardines/tuna) with cheese and/or sausage and "pana". I carry some of the above with me for lunch since there frequently is nowhere to eat or purchase food.


7.      what's the topography like?
Except for a couple of really steep climbs at the beginning it has been relatively flat with rolling hills.  

8.      Are there lots of dogs running around?
No. There are lots of dogs but they are usually on chains or behind fences. I have my trusty walking stick!!!!

9.      has the trail taken you on any big roads where there's lots of traffic?
No big roads but have walked the shoulder of N360 almost every day. Not a real problem as it is a secondary highway.

Day 11 - October 16th update just received from Hans

Arrived here (Caceres) today (Thursday October 16). To this point I’ve completed 300 km with just over 700 km to go.

Have walked 123 km over the last 4 days with yesterday being a pretty long day at 39 km.  Almost 9 hours of walking.

The weather has been brutally hot especially after 11:00 a.m. when the high temperature, which has typically been in the upper twenties, is reached. Exacerbating the situation is the need to carry lots of water (weight!) since it is so far between places where you can get water and other supplies.  The good thing is that I have lost some weight so it has been a trade off between carrying extra water and less fat!

Over the next week or so I expect to fall at least one day if not two behind my original schedule. Some of the distances that I had planned to walk were a bit optimistic (44, 39, and 39 km over the next three days). I could probably do it if it weren´t so hot but I don’t want to overdo it this early in my walk and then strain something. The average high temperature for this area at this time of the year is about 18-20 C and I am getting pretty consistent weather in the high twenties, which is pretty hot for walking.

The walk over the last few days has been fairly boring with kilometre after kilometre of the same scenery....grape vines, groves of olive trees, herds of sheep, cork forests, and local black pigs. The only things that have been interesting are the Roman artifacts along the Via de la Plata and the incredible Roman architectural remnants in Merida. I spent about two hours wandering around the city (unfortunately I had to carry my backpack since I was passing through) and viewed some incredible sights.

The incredible 60 arched Roman bridge pictured below (Puente Roamano) by which I entered the city is thought to be one of the longest ever built by the Romans....an incredible feat of engineering.  The Teatro Romano and the  Anfiteatro Romano are two facilities built side by side.  The Teatro Romano continues to be used for performances today.  They are quite astounding as are the temple of Diana and Trajan´s arch.

And lastly as I left the city you can see the remnants of the immense 1 kilometre long Acueducto de los Milagros. It once stood as high as 25 metres and was the last of a number of channels that brought water from a reservoir about 7 km from the Merida.

I am a walking signpost: 

I walk with the yellow ground roll attached to the back of my pack. Traditionally, the Camino de Santiago trail is marked with yellow arrows. Franck thinks that I am a walking Camino directional sign. That’s OK unless I get lost!

Miscellaneous recollections from the last week:

On the second day the Dutch couple, Franck and I stayed at the little albergue in Castilblanco de los Arroyos. The albergue is on the second floor. On one side there is a small passage leading to a washroom and shower facility and beside it is a door leading to the dormitory. This setup is mirror imaged on the other side. Franck and I took one side and the Dutch couple the other (we told them that they had the married quarters).  During the night someone came up the stairs and stole all of Katherina´s toilet and makeup articles which she had left in the washroom. I suggested that Franck should at least return the makeup stuff since he really doesn´t need it. Pretty brazen. 

On day three from Castilblanco de los Arroyos to Almaden de la Plata, there is a very steep climb of about 1 kilometre to a ridge called Cerro del Carvario. Whoever put in the trail must have thought that pilgrims are goats. The trail goes almost straight up. I had to stop a half a dozen times to catch my breath. Someone should teach them about switchbacks! However, when I finally summitted,  the views from the ridge looking both north and south were fantastic.  Below, the view from the top.