Day 47 (13/Nov/2017): Salamanca to Cubo de la Tierra del Vino (38km)

I left Salamanca with a heavy heart as I knew that there was more to see and experience in this beautiful city, and I’d heard that the next stage of the Camino was not pretty or enjoyable. In a cafe in a street leading to the Plaza Mayor, I treated myself to a “Desayuno Ingles,” and since that failed to live up to its promise, I had a second coffee and a small slice of tortilla in another cafe at the northern edge of the city. If I lacked enthusiasm for the walk, I was comforted, at least, by the knowledge that there were many accommodation options along the way. I could stop at 16km, 23km, or 38km, depending on how things were going. Or so I thought.
Signage was a little lacking on the way out of Salamanca, but I was familiar with the streets to the plaza mayor and from there to the round church. The route from there to the edge of the city was pretty much a straight line, which Raúl had drawn on a tourist map for me.
At each end of a town and city on the Camino in Castile and Leon, there is usually a board with an aerial photograph of the city and a red, dotted, line to indicate the Camino’s route through the town. As I was admiring the bird’s eye view on the board, a man bellowed in a london accent: “It’s easy to follow. It just goes straight for 3km, then it leaves the road.”
He wore an army surplus outfit and a long ZZ-Top beard, and he spoke somewhat angrily, without slowing down or turning his head to make eye contact. I thanked him and wished him a good day, which elicited: “Yeah. Sure. Whatever.”
The scenery, as expected was uninspiring. Apart from a couple of kilometres around the intersections of the motorways at the edge of Salamanca, and the last couple of kilometres into Cubo, I didn’t have to walk on the road itself. But the path was between a busy road and empty ploughed fields for virtually the whole way. For relief from this banal landscape, I focused on whatever I could – Once or twice I saw a plane in the sky that reminded me of the vintage propellor plane in a junkyard that I had passed. Perhaps they’re flying vintage planes at the nearby airfield. At one point, I came across an unharvested field of wheat. And towards the end of the walk I saw a tower and a collection of large, yellow buildings, which I soon realised must be a prison. I wondered if modern Spanish correctional facilities were enlightened centres for the rehabilitation of wayward citizens, like those in Scandinavia. And then I heard a tinny voice from a PA system that seemed to be coming from the tower that dominates the campus; Audible but not intelligible from the other side of the four lane motorway. I get the feeling that it’s no holiday camp.
About 13km into today’s walk, I came across a farm building with a roof and two walls – one of which had a huge banner advertising Casa Sosa. Inside this shed was a table and chairs, a first aid kit, a couple of oranges, some bottles of water, a visitors’ book, and another banner. This showed that, while the albergue at Calzada de Valdunciel was 3km away, the Casa Sosa with beautiful rooms and facilities was just another 9km along the road, and Cubo was 22km further. Smart advertising! I was sold. So what if this would mean that the journey to Zamora would take three days. I peeled an orange and looked forward to finishing today’s walk in time to wash and dry my clothes.
When I reached Casa Sosa, the wisdom of this decision was apparent. I really didn’t have the energy for 38km today. I think I knew it from the start. That must be why I left Salamanca so late and stopped twice at cafes. I rang the bell at the smart gate, in eager anticipation of a hot shower. There was no answer. After ringing three times, I telephoned and spoke to the owner who explained that it was closed because there are too few pilgrims at this time of year. At 3pm, I set off for Cubo, 13km further along the Camino. I guessed I could get there before sunset.
I finally reached the albergue Torre de Sabre just as the last light from the sun was fading. The albergue is a modest home at the end of a farm track. The door was answered by a small, round, lady. I’m the only pilgrim in a room with four beds. I had an excellent dinner of fish soup, chicken with mushrooms, tomatoes from the owner’s garden, and fruit from their orchard. The husband came to have a glass of wonderful wine with me and told me that this area is called “Cubo,” not because of a “basket,” but because of a set of four defensive towers that protected the area. He talked to me with some pride about the variety of crops and livestock that are raised here. I have a feeling that I ate their dinner…
Sleep now. Tomorrow I’ll try to walk all the way to Zamora. It’s only another 33km. There’s one albergue about halfway, but I doubt that I’ll feel like stopping there. For the last few days, I’ve been singing “Zamora, Zamora, I love ya, Zamora, You’re only a day away.” And now I can stick out my chin and grin because it’s true.
I’ve learnt a lesson from today’s experience with the closed albergue. Just because the published information states that a place is open all year, doesn’t mean it’s true. From now on, I’ll call ahead to confirm places are open.
I’m starting to dare to calculate how many more days of walking I have ahead of me. I think I will spend a day to look around Zamora. Then I’ll need, perhaps 13 days of walking to reach Orense (Nov. 28?), a day relaxing in the hot spring baths in there, and then five days to Santiago? I hope I’m not tempting fate by writing this. So many things could delay me – bad weather being the most obvious. I’ve also noticed that my boots are wearing thin, especially at the heel. I’d rather not have to break in a new pair at this point. Any thoughts?

Categories: 2017 Camino Mozarabe (Almeria to Finisterre)

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