Day five on the Via de la Plata

20km to Monesterio

104km from Sevilla

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Today I walked out of the region of Andalucía and into Extremadura. Just before reaching Monesterio, the town I would stop in for the night, I also passed the 100km milestone!

I'm super pleased that I had a surprisingly great morning and walked a bit faster than usual even though it was quite hilly. I even overtook several walkers, which rarely happens. But it's not a race, and after lunch, it was back to a slower pace and bigger hills.

It was a beautiful blue-sky day though, and I was once again walking through gorgeous green fields and quiet farm roads. I didn’t see very many people at all, and it was so quiet at one point that I managed to surprise a hare. It was a hilarious moment and I managed to catch it on video too. I thought I was about to get mugged tbh.

Also a quick little mention for Monesterio, which is famous for its ham - which you could instantly tell because it had a Museum of Ham right at the entrance to the town! I don’t really eat meat but I’m still so curious as to what was inside, alas it was closed when I arrived.

Oh, I’ve also just found that that there is also El día del Jamón - the day of Ham. A day festival celebrating all things ham. This is.. ham-azing.

Cracking Up Laughing GIF by Kathryn Dean

For the last three nights in a town, I’ve met up with the same group - totally by chance. This happens a lot on the Camino, and it’s one of the nicest things about it, and the most bittersweet; you could be on the same walking “scheduele” with a person or group of people for a week, and then suddenly someone decides to walk on, or walk less, or leave the trail, and you never see them again.

To be on the Camino is to give up control and welcome chance, or fate, if that’s what you believe. And, because of the nature of the long-distance trail, a day feels as if it becomes a week, and a week, a year. If you walk with someone for two days, you’ll probably have spoken about some of your deepest feelings, your worries, troubles, loves, and it’ll feel like you’ve known them forever.

This evening, I'm staying in the parochial albergue; these ones can often be hit and miss, and I’m not religious at all - along with a lot of other walkers on the Camino - so there’s always a slight peculiar feeling of not belonging. But the building is beautiful and new and spacious, the hospitalero friendly and funny, and when I arrived not long after lunch, the terrace was coated in hot yellow sun. My afternoon routine was familiar and automatic by now; check in, shower, handwash any clothes I needed to, and then find a good spot in the sun to soak up all the goodness and rest my feet.

Here’s where I met a few people I would go on to walk with for some time, including Ŝpela from Slovenia who whirled in like a hurricane while I was half-awake at the dining table. I found out when we got to talking that she’d volunteered as a hospitalera on the Camino Frances - the most popular route of the Camino de Santiago that begins in the south of France and runs through the north of Spain, and the route I did when I first walked the Camino in 2016.

She was an incredibly warm person, boisterous and not afraid to laugh loudly - and a complete machine. She’d walked 37km, from the town before the one I started in today. We ended up meeting up and walking together a few times, and became fast friends - we’ve since met up again off the trail when I visited Slovenia - about this time last year I think, actually! For dinner, we all went as a group to a local restaurant a few steps from the albergue and had a lovely meal among new but good friends.

Until next time,

A x

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Hey! I’m a freelance portraiture and documentary photographer based in London. I enjoy telling stories about adventure, the outdoors, and our relationship with the natural world.
In this newsletter, I’m digitally retracing my steps on the Camino de Santiago. From March to May 2019, over 45 days, I walked over 900km along the Via de la Plata (the Silver Way) route of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in Spain.
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