Earlier Updates

Dear Rotarians and Friends

If you're reading this page for the first time, I'm sorry to tell you that I lost everything today that had been posted previously.  Below is what I have been able to recreate.  New updates will be posted by date on the front page and I hope not to lose anything else.

Day 7 - October 12:  177 km completed.

There is no albergue here, so Franck and I are staying at the Casa Perin (something like a B&B although no second B) here in Villafranca de los Barrios. Here is an update covering the last two days. So far I have covered 177km and taken just over 235 thousand steps. By the way Franck has a blog that he is updating as he goes along. You can view his blog at  http://viaplata2008.blogspot.com/

Saturday morning I was woken up by the crash of thunder and the sound of rain at 6 am. When we left the Albergue Turistico at 8:30 it was not raining but we could hear the thunder and see the lightning all around us. It felt ominous. After about 10 km of walking, during which we could hear thunder almost continuously, I could see a buildup of dark clouds to the west. I stopped to put on my poncho but it was too late. Rain started to come down in buckets and I had only enough time to kneel down beside my backpack and have the poncho cover me and the pack. I stayed in this position for about 15-20 minutes while the wind howled, the rain pelted down and then to top it off hail about the size of small marbles made an appearance....that stuff hurts. Later on I learned that Franck who was about a kilometer behind me experienced the same problem, however he was not too far from some trees while I was in the open.

I was pretty wet and despite the continuing rain I had no option but to carry on. It rained for the rest of the walk to Zafra (about 16 km). The trail was a mess. It seemed to be a conduit for water draining from the adjacent fields and in some cases it looked like rivers coming at me. In the low spots it would pool giving little option other than plowing right through it.  Where there was no water, the soil had turned to brown sticky clay that stuck to your feet thereby adding to the burden. There is little difference between being wet and getting wetter so I just kept going. I thought to myself, "There must be easier way to raise money for PolioPlus". All I could think about was getting to the albergue where I could get out of my wet clothes and boots and have a hot shower. Never was an albergue more appreciated as when Franck and I arrived at 2:30. We looked like a couple of half-drowned cats.

The same weather continued today. It rained lightly pretty much the whole way from Zafra to Villafranca de los Barros. It wasnīt a big problem as we were prepared. It didnīt give any opportunity to stop and take care of my feet so I just walked through the 21 km in a single go. The good news is that the weather is expected to improve for the next few days.

I expect to be in Merida (221 km) on Tuesday. This is about 1 day behind my plan but should pose no problem as long as my health remains OK.

Anecdotes

The Dutch Couple that I met the first night and with whom we spent time over the first four days in the albergues was very interesting.  Over the last few years they have walked the Camino France twice, the Camino del Norte, the Camino Portuguese starting in Fatima and the Inca trail in Peru. Marcel is a self-employed tour guide! If you are doing one of the barging tours combined with bicycling on the canals and rivers of Europe then he might be your guide. He is a huge man which is probably why he was also carrying a tent as well as cooking facilities. He had to be carrying 40 pounds of gear!

Franck is an environmentalist who lives in Brussels who is currently on a 6 month sabbatical (sp?). A week or so before he started the Via de la Plata he spent two weeks walking in the Pyrenees Mountains. Before that he walked the Harz Mountains in Germany. He is a walking machine.

At the Albergue Turistico in Fuente de Cantos we met an Australian couple. The husband was at least 40 pounds overweight but they were bound and determined to walk to Santiago de Compostela. They had started from Sevilla on October 2 (Franck and I had started on October 6)and he was in pretty bad shape with his feet. They were planning to walk the 6 km to the next town in the morning!!!! I hope they survive.

One of the big differences between the Camino France and the Via de la Plata so far is the distances between facilities e.g. bars, restaurants, drinking water facilities. I recall that the longest distance that I had to walk last year was 17 km and that was an aberration. Typically it would be 6-10 km between towns. Here the distances are huge: 12 km day 1, 19 km day 2; 30 km day 3; 17 and 21 km day 4; 22 day 5 etc. Planning becomes very important so that you donīt run out of water.

On the first day after I toured the Roman ruins of Italica there was a perfectly straight section of road that was 12 km in length. There was no relief other that a line of trees and shrubs that bisected the road about 8 km after the start of this stretch.  This was a low point and when I got there the road was filled with water with no obvious way to get through. I tested the pool of water with my walking stick and it was obvious that going down the middle was a recipe for disaster. So, gingerly I tried to cross on the left bank while fending off shrubs and thorns. About half across I lost my balance and only my trusty walking stick saved the day. If I had fallen it would have taken a small crane to get me out. Another Camino triumph. The road must have been designed by someone who later on immigrated to Saskatchewan.


Day 4, October 9 - 109 km completed.

After 4 days I have finally been able to email.  Here is an update.

I am currently in Monesterio where I have to stay in a hotel since there is no albergue. Have completed 109 km over the last 4 days.
Sevilla to Guillena (Oct 6) 20km.
Guillena to Castilblanco de los Arroyos (Oct 7) 20 km.
Castilblanco to Almaden de la Plata (Oct 8) 30 km.
Almaden de la Plata to Monestorio (Oct 9) 40 km.

The 3 1-2 weeks of inactivity in Central Europe did not help my training for the walk. Have found conditions pretty tough with a few niggling problems.

The first couple of days were very hot and uncomfortable (high twenties) so the short distances of 20 km was a relief.

Since then the weather has been warm and sunny with never ending wind mostly against us;however cool mornings have been helpful.

No blister problems to this point and I donīt expect any BUT I am having some problems with my right knee and leg. Knee seems to be a stretched anterior ligament. Use of the knee brace has helped and I donīt foresee any it getting any worse as long as I am careful. The long 30 and 40 km distances the last two days have been very tough. My right leg started to ached with about 10 km to go today and I had to drag my butt most of the last 2-3 hours. Also ran out of water with about 3 km to go. A double dose of Ibuprofen and a couple of beers made me feel a lot better.

If I can get through the next 2-4 days I should be able to walk my way through the leg problems.

I met a couple from Holland and Franck from Belgium on the first day and the 4 of us have stayed at the same (and only) albergue over the last 3 nights. Only Franck and I made the 40 km walk today so we probably wonīt see the Dutch folks again. Franck is going all the way to Santiago de Compostela so we might stick together for a while (we are sharing a hotel room here tonight). The Dutch folks are walking for 2 weeks and will continue their Via de la Plata walk next year.

Please extend best wishes to all that are supporting our ĻWalk to Beat PolioĻ


Day 1, October 6 - leaving Sevilla, Spain

When Hans left Budapest on Saturday October 4 for Seville, Spain it was raining steadily.

"It seems like a fitting way to leave Central Europe since the rain followed us for three weeks through Budapest, Vienna and Prague," he wrote.

Unfortunately the continuous cold and damp weather that plagued us for three weeks also left Hans with a cold just four days before his scheduled start to the Walk. Colds pretty much come and go at their own pace but we treated his symptoms anyway as best we could with salt gargles and Ibuprofen. Since he's in excellent physical shape he's bouncing back very quickly and is off and walking on Monday October 6th just as planned. He writes:

"It is 8:00 a.m. here and I will definitely leave a bit later this morning. Am feeling about 98 per cent and getting better all the time. I may not wait until 11:00 a.m. to get the sello at the cathedral since the high here today and tomorrow will be 28C. I don't want to walk in the main heat of the day.

Had a good day yesterday touring the city which is beautiful but also a place where it is very easy to get lost. Getting out of the city and into the country will be a bit of a challenge as there are very few 'Camino' signs.

I will try my best to stay in touch but I suspect that there might be a shortage of places to email until I hit some of the larger towns and cities along the route."

Fellow Rotarians and friends, I will definitely update this website the minute I get any news. ~LolitaWhen Hans left Budapest on Saturday October 4 for Seville, Spain it was raining steadily.

"It seems like a fitting way to leave Central Europe since the rain followed us for three weeks through Budapest, Vienna and Prague," he wrote.

Unfortunately the continuous cold and damp weather that plagued us for three weeks also left Hans with a cold just four days before his scheduled start to the Walk. Colds pretty much come and go at their own pace but we treated his symptoms anyway as best we could with salt gargles and Ibuprofen. Since he's in excellent physical shape he's bouncing back very quickly and is off and walking on Monday October 6th just as planned. He writes:

"It is 8:00 a.m. here and I will definitely leave a bit later this morning. Am feeling about 98 per cent and getting better all the time. I may not wait until 11:00 a.m. to get the sello at the cathedral since the high here today and tomorrow will be 28C. I don't want to walk in the main heat of the day.

Had a good day yesterday touring the city which is beautiful but also a place where it is very easy to get lost. Getting out of the city and into the country will be a bit of a challenge as there are very few 'Camino' signs.

I will try my best to stay in touch but I suspect that there might be a shortage of places to email until I hit some of the larger towns and cities along the route."