Monday, October 17, 2011

Day 18: A whole new world

It's amazing how quickly the landscape changes. Some of the vegetation changes are a bit gradual - fewer olive trees, more oaks noticable over the course of 10 kilometers or so; sporatic cows grazing across a hillside rather than the large herds of sheep down in the valley... this sort of thing. I came over a pass this morning, 35 kilometers south of Avila, and suddenly, in a matter of a kilometer, oaks gone completely, groves of pines have taken their place. The entire landscape is different.

The welcomed change in landscape was accompanied by the very welcomed presence of some morning clouds. The region has been experiencing a prolonged drought since winter, and an extended heatwave on top of it. The clouds and cooler temperatures in addition to the different trees together are like walking into a whole new world.

I climbed out of some mountains into picturesque Avila. I immediately sensed its similarities to Siena, Italy - enclosing wall, tons of churches, lots of learny things, hoards of tourists, herds of their buses, noisy restaurants poured out onto the cobbled alleys, every building turned into an hotel. Yikes! Overwhelming. And by coincidence, La Fiesta de Santa Teresa was going on. Chaos redoubled. I stayed in a pilgrim house, alone on this little-used pilgrim route, and a nice one, one for the encyclopedia defining pilgrim houses... a hot shower and a washing machine =) It's the little things.

Back into the mountains, higher and higher, reaching 1,200 meters (4,000 feet), I'm enjoying lots of vistas, highlighted by the golden poplars along the dry riverbeds, with a lighter load since the harvest is largely over and fruit trees left in villages.

Pilgrim life continues... I'm as far east as I'll get in Spain, heading south to Toledo in a few days, then southwest to Cordova... I plotted out the route and came upon this little factoid: the difference between averaging 30 and 37 kilometers per day will add up to 2 months over the course of my travels to Jerusalem... do I arrive at the end of April (37 km/d) or end of June (30 km/d). Place bets on earlier rather than later, the heat takes its toll on me.


ksam said...

Wow...the distances you cover leave me reeling!

Sheila Phelan Wright said...

30 or 37K? Unbelievable. Glad you found some shade for a while, especially at your pace. We're always thinking of you. Safe travels southward.

Amy R said...

Well, it's not a coincidence that you were in Avila for St. Teresa's festival! What a blessing!

I sent you an email, too.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you've touched (and will leave) the Camino de Valencia which I'll walk next spring. A very quiet way, rhythmic and contemplative. MUNDICAMINO has a list of albergues, I think.

Like others I find your average kms pretty daunting. For a day or two, yes, but then I suffer. But I'm no spring chicken. Thankfully, this kind of walking isnt competitive or we wouldn't do it. Well I wouldn't.

Continue to have great time!

Compostelle 2008 said...

Wonderful descriptions again, I love it! My bet, end of May. Some days 37 km some days 30 km and lots in between!

Michèle (Ottawa, ON) Canada