I made it to Cordoba already! I'm stuck here and nursing injured tendons. On strict instructions not to hike anymore for at least Four more days.
I slept for a solid 13 hours on a park bench. How tired do you have to be to do that?
Briefly, and typing with tired lazy fingers and brains, Alcalar de Real was excellent. Made about €30 on Wednesday eveining. Spent the night exploring bars. Got wasted. Thursday morning I returned to the park where I was sketching to complete a panoramic sketch. All was going very well until Policia Local stopped me and told everyone I wasn't really a pilgrim. They said I was a homeless alcoholic just looking for beer money. No-one believed them.
From Alcalar I walked to some other place about 20KM away. On arrival I realised it was just to small and a hopeless place to make cash. Took a vino tinto and very generous paella tapas for just €1 before walking on towards the next town - Baeda. What was promising to be a beautifully sunset evening sky suddenly turned black prematurely. Huge winds swirling and fuck all shelter. Spotted some lights by the distant motorway that looked like a service station, so headed that way fast as I could. Founs some sort of plastic shelter and waited, and waited, and waited for a very violent storm to pass. Eventually gave up and beded down for the night on the spot. It was fucking cold.
Set off at sunrise in the morning trying to retrack the path I was following. Eventually found it. Very nice track following and old railway line that serviced the olive groves (fuck all else to service). Beautiful morning. The sun slowly raised the valley mist bellow. By 10 it was hot, dry and typically Andalucian. However, the track took detours to take in nature reseves and lakes. As nice as that was I would prefer to be warned that a 20KM trek is about to become a 38KM trek. Fucking hard day. Very hard. Eventually made it to Baeda. Friendly Guardia Civil and some nice guy who bought me a drink. I needed out of there. I was already hallucinating from sleep deprivation by now. Spent the night on a bench by a church.
Onwards and upwards. Fucking rain. Loads of it. Didn't know what else to do other than keep walking, so walk I did. And, walk, and walk and walk some more. Another promised 20KM hike turned into almost 30KM. Found a small town called Castro de Rio, or summat. I was feeling very defeated by the time I arrived. It was still raining. No chance of selling paintings and I had absolutely no energy left. Slept in the porch of some community center only to be verbally abused by some old hag in the morning. I met her again later.
Sunday. Decided to sketch the main church and pretty much only tourist attraction here. One group of tourists passed by fleetingly. Totally lost by now and almost at the point of turning around. Then some guy I had asked for a cigarette from the previous day shouts out 'Hey, John, come and join our fiesta'. So, I did and some of the friendliest people I've met stuffed me full of all sorts of goodies and beer and sherry to the point of bursting. 'No' was never and option. About to stagger away to explode somewhere privately, I was informed that the paella would be ready soon! I had to leave the place before I got stuck for another night. The hag that abused me in the3 morning apologised because she did't know who I was.
Making my way to the ring road I heard someone shout 'Hey, John, come and have a beer'. I felt oblidged. Then accepted the invitation to tapas. And, another beer. And, a spliff.
Finally stumbled out of town and made a very slow Two day plod to Cordoba.