Monday Nov. 3rd 2014 Aljucen via Alcuéscar to Aldea del Cano 35 km

Because my food supply was finished I had desayuno in “Kiosk”, along with Vincenco. The only foodstore in Aljucen would not open before 10 am. Our planning was to leave early. The lure of a breakfast in the Kiosk has dissuaded us to wait till opening of the food store at 10 am. So we left from breakfast in the “Kiosk” already at 9.30. Later I heard that the store opened half an hour late anyway, at 10:30 am., The frugal Polish Peter had been waiting for the food store to buy a cheap breakfast. He was irritated that he had to wait for the belated opening and in general he couldn’t get used to the different concept of time in Spain. That is Spain.                                  Lovely walking weather, a little overcast, nice and cool, many stretches of fine path with thin sand or hard clay, but then again kilometers of the hopelessly sharp stones. The rubber strips that I had found and that filled up Leons hoof boots, helped well. Today only twice I had to replace a single hoofboot. At around five it started to drip. We had 9 km. left to go and I thought that it would be dark, before we would arrive at the inn. I did not want to camp in the rain. So please Leon, stop constantly trying to graze at the roadside. That way we’ll never reach the inn before night, with still the nagging question where you and Tosca must be accommodated. A pitch-black sky was approaching fast. With great difficulty I could fish my poncho from the bottom of one of the backpacks, Leon got a rain blanket, which  turned to be inside out when it was on Leon’s back, and right after the storm broke.

Holy sh.., strong winds whipped havy rain against my thin summer trousers. The path became a stream. Shoes got in no time . Tosca took shelter under every bush and to make things worse Leon lost another hoof shoe. Fortunately, the inlay strip was still in it, otherwise the horse shoe would soon be lost for a second time. I bent over to do that hoof again, with the result that the wind blows the poncho over my shoulders, the horse runs away and I got soaked wet with only my Mama Alice- polo shirt on my belly. I pulled down again the poncho, but it covered my eyes and I didn’t see the horse’s hoof any more.
While I knelt in the cold rain with one of the hoof shoes in my hand, my poncho lay on the ground and I was afraid that Leon would stand on it and would tear the cape. Meanwhile Tosca,  all wet, asks shivering for attention. My fingers were so numb that I could barely handle the hoof. It was uncomfortably cold, dark and I already passed most of the village. Nowhere a sign pointing at an inn. Then I decided to stop searching for signs for the pilgrim road to the holy St. Jacob. I walked my own route, straight back, to that village, towards the church, where a police car pointed me to the local pub, where I received the key to the pilgrims’ hostel. A friendly villager offered me a meadow for Leon, and Tosca I explained, again against the rules, got fixed inside in the living room of the inn, where Tosca lay down under the big drain of the huge fireplace, which of course did not burn. An old Spaniard, whom I already had met in a couple of other inns, had taken the only electric heater that was present in the tavern, into his bedroom, to dry his wet gear. Come and sleep in my room, he invited me. Then you can dry your own cloths. I thought, put that stove in the living room, then everyone can use it.

In the meantime arrived already annoyed Polish Peter and he got really angry at that selfish behavior of the Spaniard. The Spaniard had already gone to sleep. Peter decided to tell the Spaniard the truth tomorrow (but the next day the old Spaniard left before Peter woke up). In the evening I took a nice shower, drying myself with a sponge that I found there and my polo shirt (I must buy somewhere a towel) clean, I put on warm clothes, and had a diner with the dry bread I had bought in the afternoon, topped with a little jam of Polish Peter, feeding the animals, and with Peter I had a liter of beer (the first thing I was drinking since this morning.
Finally in the inn Peter and I discussed an hour the things of life and of the world and then we ordered the same booz in the wifi cafeteria that my Spanish neighbor at the bar was drinking. It tasted like sherry and when I was the only one left in the cafe, I thought it was time to go “home” and I went to bed at 11. With this bad weather the few beautiful Roman bridges and Roman mile stones along my route , “proving ” that we walk on the ancient Via de la Plata , did not get the attention  that they deserved. Without that attention , they’ll probably keep standing there too.
Plan for tomorrow : trying to pass Caceres and find a place for the night North of the city. But if it will rain tomorrow , I will stay here one day longer and I’ll try to find a farrier blacksmith and then I can also dry my stuff with that heater when the old Spaniard is gone.

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