Day 26 (23/Oct/2017): Hinojosa del Duque to Monterrubio de la Serena (32km)

Since yesterday was Sunday, Michel and I had been unable to buy supplies for our 32km hike (with no intermediate towns) to Monterrubio de la Serena. Fortunately, the barman at our hostal in Hinojosa Del Duque happily prepared a lunch bag for each of us, containing a large ham and tomato sandwich and an orange, while we ate breakfast. Despite being worked off his feet, he seemed much readier to serve us with a smile than the staff members that we encountered the day before.
The Camino took us through Hinojosa del Duque’s old town, which was surprisingly pretty, with an attractive square in front of the town hall and a church with some unusual decorative elements.
We were soon out of town and passed by arable land being prepared for the next season by farmers in tractors. Some of them greeted us and wished us “Buen Camino.”
The farms on this section of the Camino appear to be mostly growing cereal crops in large fields with holm oak trees. In places there are collections of rocks that bring to mind prehistoric monuments, but are, I guess, the result of farmers moving stones into piles to get them out of the way of their tractors.
I was pleased when I came across a scene that was exactly as Maggie Woodward had described it in the account of her journey along the same path – Two very friendly young dogs and one grumpy old dog – guardians of a group of piglets.
Later we also saw a flock of sheep who eagerly made their way to some hay that the farmer had put out for them. My guess is that the holm oak fields provide too little nourishment for the sheep that we saw under the trees. I suppose that the farmers have to supplement their acorn diet with hay.
After passing a derelict station next to a line that looks like it might still see occasional use, we passed by a surprisingly full lake and into some wide open, arid country. Somewhere around here, we must have missed an arrow that would have put us on the path to the Ermita de Nuestra Señora de las Alcantarillas – one of the oldest churches in the region:…/historia-…
We passed a large grove of olive trees that were planted surprisingly close together in perfectly straight rows. The effect was like looking at vines. Olive trees are normally separated by several meters, and the earth around them is thoroughly weeded, to ensure that the tree gets enough nutrients to produce large olives. Sure enough, I found that the fruit on these closely spaced trees were like small berries. Perhaps this is a nursery for growing olive seedlings – but these trees were quite large for that. After some time without seeing an arrow, we consulted guidebooks and apps. The app on my phone suggested a route that might be better than the official Camino route, since it avoided the long stretch of road-walking at the end of today’s walk. However, the official Camino route takes pilgrims past the Ermita and we decided to head toward the Ermita to rejoin the Camino there.
Sadly, for a distance of about 8km from that point, we walked on Tarmac on the edge of the road. My right foot is still moaning about it. The road brought us into the town of Monterrubio de la Serena, a pleasant looking, but terribly sleepy little town. We found the hostales in front of the church. Although there were cafe tables in the square in front of them, there was nobody on duty and nobody answered the phone when I called. Just then, a local passed by and asked us: “Wouldn’t you rather stay at the brand-new, free of charge, albergue that the local authority has just opened?” He guided us to the albergue, where we called the lady who manages it. She arrived with the key within 10 minutes and showed us around the very smart, excellently fitted out, albergue. “Free,” turned out to be 5 Euro per person, but I have no complaints here. It has free wifi, a washing machine, kitchen, shower, terrace, and lounge area with TV. Somehow I managed to snag a bed in a small room downstairs. Michel is in the immense dormitory upstairs with three other pilgrims – the Czech pilgrim from Brno and a Spanish couple who have walked from Malaga.
Despite the existence of several bars in town, we found only one place that served food in the evening. We had a passable dinner there, but I regret not cooking for myself in the albergue. We had little to say to each other over dinner – I think Michel and I have had enough of each other’s company. Tomorrow I will walk 20km to Castuera and I believe that Michel is hoping to walk 39km to Campanario. I may use the excuse that my feet are sore to walk a little slower tomorrow.

Categories: 2017 Camino Mozarabe (Almeria to Finisterre)

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