A much more comfortable walk today. 19km from Abla to Hueneja. I threw some unnecessary items out of my rucksack to lighten my load, and allowed myself to lie in – leaving Abla as the roosters were crowing at 7:15. I was struck by the density of construction in Abla – a town with steep slopes and streets barely wide enough for a single car. The way to the Camino was well signposted and I was relieved that most of my walk today was on easier surfaces than yesterday’s river beds. Soon, I found myself walking between olive groves and wind farms with the Sierra Nevada mountains to my left. I kept up my energy with yoghurt, croissants, and ham from Alba, and figs from the side of the road. To escape the fierce sun at midday, I rested in the shade of an olive tree. When I rose from my nap, I was delighted to find the sky clouded over and the temperature a comfortable 24C. I continued though some small settlements – including one half constructed “bubble era” town with street lights, zebra crossings, well paved pavements … dressing streets that led nowhere. I reached Huernaja around 4:30 and collected the key to the albergue from the attractive nursing home run by the “Hermanos de la Cruz Blanco” order. Huernaja has its fiesta today, which is wonderful. But it’s a Sunday, which means nowhere to buy food for tomorrow. I have some trail mix which will serve as breakfast, and I’ll pick up other things in the first town I pass through. My routine so far has been to eat regular snacks – a second breakfast at 9:00, elevensies at 11:00 (when else?), and so on.
Doorways between Abla and Huernaja
First order of business on arriving at an albergue is to remove walking gear and do laundry so that it has a chance of drying overnight. Then I can shower, put my towel out to dry, write my name in the register, stamp my credencial, and check my route for the next day while there is still light. After that I’m ready to go into town to buy desayuno and snacks for the next day and to get some dinner. The extent to which I can perform that routine efficiently determines how much time I have to write.
The albergue in Abla had a washing machine and drier, but that didn’t save me effort or time because I had to go into town to get change (6 x 1 euro coins) to use them. The albergue in Huernaja has a very practical Spanish sink for clothes washing and a line for drying on the balcony. It also has an inside-out toaster, which I would love to use but I can’t buy any bread today.
This albergue is next to a school. I wonder if it was built as teachers’ accommodation, like the flat I lived in when I was in Kamikuishiki. The building reminds me of Japanese social housing from the 1960s-70s, although I think it’s of a more recent vintage. The steel door, the layout of two flats per storey on a communal staircase, the balcony space for drying clothes, the general quality of the build, and the small but practical bathroom and kitchen all resemble Japanese danchi. The spaces are a little larger than those one might find in a typical danchi apartment. The bathroom lacks a tub, which would be de rigeur in all but the oldest danchi. But in other respects, it’s remarkably similar.