Camino Day 13: Mérida to Aljucén

As often happens when we stay in a hotel room with a noon check out time, Mikey rationalized the morning away with hitting snooze and taking a really long shower. Then, it was a leisurely breakfast followed by a trip to the market and post office. Wow – you’d think he didn’t have 36km to walk today! As it turned out, we didn’t get on the road until almost noon and stopped early in the town of Aljucén which is a mere 17km from Mérida. The best-laid plans…

What was fabulous was finding this aqueduct in a park just around the corner from our hotel. Referred to as “El Acueducto de los Milagros” or the Miraculous Aqueduct, it is a three-tiered structure that supplied much of the city with water. (You know, for long showers and such.)

Yes, to reach the Camino, we had to walk through the structure, so this is a view looking back and into the sun.

Ever wonder where all that water came from? Yep, the Romans also built dams. This is a nearby reservoir that has been in use for nearly two millennia. No, it’s not massive like our modern dams, but sheer longevity puts this baby at the top.

We continued on and passed these lovely ladies having lunch. It’s funny – Mikey used to immediately assume that all cows with horns were bulls. Nope. One actually encounters very few bulls and most cows have horns. Oh, and before you ask, Mikey has seen other pilgrims craning their necks to make sure!

At the halfway point today was a water fountain and the Church of Our Lady of Consolation and the Way of St James. Let’s just saw that there was little consolation in this village. Aside from the fountain and locked church, there were no shops, cafes, or even restrooms.

There were, however, fields upon fields of wildflowers the whole way. And with every breeze came wonderful scents.

We finally reached Aljucén around 4 pm and decided that this was far enough for today. This no stoplight town had a church in the center square, 2 cafes, and one bar.

Mikey went to the pensioners’ cafe and ordered a glass of local wine. It arrived alongside a small plate of mussels. The price? 1€. Seriously, these people take “fixed income” to a whole new level.

We returned to the albergue and the hospitalero assisted Mikey in washing all his laundry. By “assist” we mean he took our money, put in the soap, and pressed start. Following a nap, we hung the clothes out to dry in the sun and headed out on the town!

This basically consisted of walking across the street and having dinner at the other cafe. While the food wasn’t the best that we’ve tried, the view was quite serene. Still, having now seen all the sights and with laundry left to fold, we headed back to the albergue to get ready for tomorrow’s hike wherein we will hopefully make up some lost miles.