Camino Day 14: Aljucén to Aldea del Cano

As we had additional ground to cover today (Mikey figures that we’ll be caught up in two days), we were the first out of the albergue this morning and began once again before daylight. Not that there was any chance of getting lost in the dark on the only way out of town, but seeing those little yellow arrows is definitely reassuring.

Ever since his first Camino, Mikey has enjoyed the exit signs one sees upon leaving a village. In his mind, the red slash turns to blood and an almost demonic voice gruffly erupts, “Aljucén is gone!” Yeah, that’s disturbing and is a joke. But the red slash is a bit foreboding – don’t you think?

Speaking of red, this field of red wildflowers really stood out as we left the town and headed towards another natural reserve park.

Mikey always kept an arm’s length from most botany/natural science courses in both high school and college opting instead for the humanities and social sciences. Ergo, we have no idea what types of wildflowers surround us, but are enjoying them with blissful ignorance.

Flooded paths, however, are much less enjoyable. Sure, we might wade through this section (Mikey’s boots are waterproof-ish) but it is about a foot deep. Taking boots and socks off could work, but then there’s the drying off in the brisk morning air.

If this Camino has taught us nothing else, it is that there normally exists a third way. Sometimes it is found in the footprints of our predecessors, but it can also be discovered by pure chance or even forged through personal ingenuity.

We’ve also learned that we are always being watched. Just when you think you’re alone and go to pick at your nose or scratch something, BAM! There’s a cow or goat or sheep looking right at you in disgust.

We’ve also learned to be OK with being alone. As the first four days of the Camino Augusta taught us, sometimes you are truly the only one out there. This is OK. (Just try not to get the song “All By Myself” stuck in your head.) Is it scary being out there on your own? Well, any young adult can vouch for that! But, is it worth it?

Mikey likes to remind us of Mark Twain’s famous call to adventure: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.”

And the goats will keep you company. No, really – goats are like the coolest farm animals around. You can have staring competitions with them, milk them, eat them, and they’ll even randomly head-butt you for absolutely no reason at all.

Sheep are fun too, but they are a lot more skittish. “Was it something we said?!”

But that part that we said about always being watched…yeah, all eyes on us as we passed this ladies’ meeting. Seriously though, zoom in on the picture – they’re all staring!

But so are these little lambs. So amazingly cute!

While we are also amazed by our surroundings, perhaps one of the most horribly repetitious aspects of this blog are the panoramic views with part of the path shown going off into the horizon. Yes, it is seemingly cliché, but Mikey never tires of these shots because this is what he sees all day while hiking. And he remains amazed by the beauty around him and his smallness in it.

Speaking of small, there was one cafe, one restaurant, one church, one grocer (who charged 1€ for a can of Coke!), and no ATMs in the village of Aldea del Cano. As the church only opens for mass once a week, we could merely tour its exterior.

Although perfectly fine sitting at a table on the somewhat populated outside terrace, we were obliged to sit in the empty dining room in order to take our evening meal. The lights were turned on upon our entrance and extinguished upon our departure. Weird.

A primary course of a salad was pretty standard.

Then it was fish and chips for the main course. Mikey is trying not to think about how far from the ocean we are at present or about how he should have ordered a white wine with this particular one fare. Oh well. We have a busy morrow, so let us close for now. Goodnight.

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