Most of the gang set off after coffee at the Bar Los Emigrantes, in a straggly line.
Today’s cast of 8, together for almost a week, are all over 60 except for the two Chicas, and they won’t be seeing 50 again:
- English D, who has a very goofy sense of humour, is doing a charity walk in memory of his wife, who died one year ago.
- Mongolian-German W, who just enjoys Spain and the Camino.
- Spaniard N, who has walked many times on other routes, and has a suave Madrideño accent.
- Spaniards M and R who are friends in Seville, with Andaluz accents, but they are cheerful and willing to repeat.
- Las Chicas – Two women who seem to have wandered onto the Camino from the set of an international soap opera. They only met 3 weeks ago, but are now BFF. They spend most of their time discussing the scripts of their private dramas.
The second half of the day was on dirt paths or roads and very scenic. However, it got quite warm in the strong sun. In the end I resorted to using my red wool buff to protect my ears from the sun. Sorry, fashion police!
We were very glad to reach the rendezvous point at Ventequemada, where we were to call the people at Oliva de Plasencia for a pickup. This is a stage that requires a workaround and detour for accommodation, to avoid a tough long walk.
One Spaniard had reserved 8 beds at the albergue for us all, and we all had the phone number of the taxi, in case we arrived separately. Five of us were gathered at the meeting point before the taxi arrived to shuttle us to the albergue. Note that Ventequemada is just a house on the highway – see the photo.
We called W to see if he was arriving soon, but he had taken a wrong turn and was on an unknown road. The driver (Ivan) was very kind and we set out to search. Five minutes later we found the hot, tired, but much relieved pilgrim, trudging along a side road. He had also been led astray by the “camino” sign at the beginning of the day, so he had walked almost 30 km instead of 23.
Then we began to wonder about the Chicas. No one had their phone numbers, but we knew that they had the numbers of the albergue taxi and two of our group. At the albergue, we were a bit worried since, well, pilgrims do try to look out for each other. What if they were separated? What if their phone was dead? Both of these were real possibilities. At what point should one send out a search party?
Meanwhile, someone said we should just ask at the more posh Casa Rural. Sure enough, we were told they had indeed checked in. They never bothered to inform either the albergue to cancel their beds, or the Spaniards who had made the reservation. Not good form.
For those seeking Camino tips…
- On leaving Galisteo, ignore the “camino” sign at the roundabout. You need to follow the road signs straight north to Aldehuala del Jerte and Carcaboso – 11 km on asphalt but the traffic is light.
- On the Camino, a few km before Ventequemada, you will encounter two of the big granite markers. One shows the Roman road (blue) going straight ahead. The other shows the Camino (yellow) going left through a gate. GO STRAIGHT! Otherwise you will reach a road and have a longer route to get to Ventequemada, as W did.
- The albergue in Oliva de Plasencia is very comfortable with regular (not bunk) beds. It has a good kitchen. The shop in the village opens at 6 pm and has a good selection, and will wash and dry a load of laundry for €5. The one bar in town is a
basicauthentic village bar but serves a satisfying menu if you don’t want to cook.
- To reserve the albergue, call Rafa at 620 007490.
- To call for pickup when you arrive at Ventequemada, call Ivan at 608 333 036. Ivan is a one-man-band, managing the albergue, the store, the pickups, procuring of super glue to fix eye glasses, and many other tasks. He is unfailingly polite to everyone, from tourists to the little old ladies shopping in his store. He speaks a fair amount of English, too.
- The pickup at Ventequemada is included in the albergue cost of €15. If you request, Ivan will drive you to Cáparra in the morning for €2/person.
- The people at Hostal Asturias will do a similar pickup at the Arco de Cáparra. They have very reasonable prices for single and twin rooms, and will direct you in the morning how to get back on the Camino.