Day 40 (6/Nov/2017): Carcaboso to Jarilla (27km?)

I started writing this from my seat on the ALSA bus from Jarilla to Caceres, trying to resist the soporific effect of the engine’s gentle hum. Futile. Even the long, loud, phone call of the lady behind me could not prevent me from falling into a floppy, semi-sleep for the 90 minute ride.
Today’s walk was quite perfect, taking me through several fincas, with beautifully twisted Holm oaks and a few cork oaks. The path followed the old Roman road closely; a comfortable, straight, sandy track. For one stretch, through a finca, the path narrowed to single person width. One of the surprises for me about the Camino has been that it’s very wide – often wide enough for four wheel drive vehicles. That’s good if you’re walking as a couple or a group. It offers little advantage to the solo walker – and for the last few days I’m very much the solo walker.
During the early stages from almeria, I discovered that the dry river banks are used as altern atives to the roads by locals. Today’s route through the finca felt more like the narrow forest paths that I had imagined.
In the fincas, I came across many cows but no pigs. They must be foraging for their acorns in other fields at the moment. At one point I came across a bovine rush hour – a line of cows all making their way through a gap in the wall. I suppose it was feeding time or milking time on the other side. When I tried to film them, they stopped snd stood back, like pedestrians in a city, politely waiting for a tourist to take a snap of a famous building.
The “big event” of today’s walk was
the Roman ruins at Cáparra. I had heard that I would pass by the four-sided archway that is used as the symbol of the Via de la Plata in Extremadura, but I hadn’t realised that the arch is just the grand centrepiece of large archeological excavations of a Roman city, founded in the C1st AD and occupied until the C9th. The excavated ruins look amazing – I was delighted to see the restored Roman road, which clearly showed the flag stones that were the top layer of the road. As I mentioned before, the Romans had a sophisticated approach to the layers that composed the road:
“a foundation of lime mortar or sand to form a hard, flat base (pavimentum), this was followed by large stones (statumen), a layer of smaller stones (rudus), gravel (nucleus) and finally topped with large paving stones (summum dorsum).”
Read more at…
Sadly, with the exception of the arch, all the other ruins were inaccessible – cordoned off with high, metal fences. It seems that this area is set to become a curated exhibition, with viewing platforms, and information panels. The work is funded by a trio of European Economic Area countries (Iceland, Norway, and Liechtenstein). But nothing is happening with the site right now.
I was the only person at the site. On another day I might have found a way to scale the fences and taken my own tour of it. Today, however, I was constrained by an artificial deadline. From the Roman arch I had a choice if walking about 6km to the village of Oliva de Plasencia, where the bus to Caceres stops at 4:40pm or walking 12km to Jarilla, to catch the same bus at 4:30pm. My navigation app suggested that I could just about manage the Jarilla route. So I found myself pressing forwards, maximising my speed and trying not to stop to take too many photographs. The old adage states “Never run after a bus or a girl. There will always be another.” But for the people of Jarilla that must sound strange. They have only two buses per day to Caceres. I wanted to catch the bus and pick up my winter kit today because I’ll just be getting further from Caceres and the opportunity to do an overnight run will be gone. So here I was, chasing after the rare 4:30 bus and the so-rare-it’s-mythical “guapa peregrina.”
I booked a ticket using he ALSA app, from Jarilla (Cruce) to Caceres. I pushed hard and didn’t take a break for lunch. The toast and jam that I ate in the morning at the bar by the albergue sustained me. It was only when I got to the tunnel under the motorway junction that started to wonder what the significance of “cruce” in parentheses might mean. I had 30 minutes of walking to get to the centre of the village and only about 45 minutes remained before the scheduled bus time. Nonetheless, something nagged at me. When I passed the junction, and started to climb the hill toward the village, I suddenly realised that the “cruce” might refer to the intersection of roads that I was leaving behind. I turned around and walked to the bar/hostal by the junction. Sure enough, they confirmed that the bus stopped outside the bar. That was fortunate. I would have missed the bus if I’d gone into the village. Wikipedia tells me that the population is aged and numbers about 150 people. I will give it a miss tomorrow when I return to the Cruce with a heavier rucksack – now that I have picked up my winter clothes from Caceres post office. I won’t bother faffing around with poste restante again.
This evening i asked my Airbnb host for a recommendation for dinner. He suggested Bar Marina in the Colon district, some distance away from the historic centre. I liked the idea of getting away from the touristy areas – but Bar Marina is not open for dinner on Mondays. In the immediate area, I had a choice between an American style burger joint “Wings & Co.” or “Tagliatella” – an “Italian” restaurant that looked chain-ish, like a cousin of Cafe Rouge. I felt like having something less meaty than usual so I went for the Italian, which provided a Spanish-sized salad to start and a pretty good risotto. No complaints, but I still feel like Caceres and I have failed to hit it off. It’s not you, Caceres, it’s me. I must get some sleep now. I have ordered a cab at 6:45 to ensure that I can catch a 7:30am bus back to Jarilla, where I’ll work my way back into the Camino route and see how far I can get with my now heavier rucksack. Tomorrow might be my last day of walking in Extremadura. The province of Salamanca lies to the north.

Categories: 2017 Camino Mozarabe (Almeria to Finisterre)

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