(the following are extracts from mine and my husband/fellow walker journal kept during the walk from Almeria to Cordoba mid 2016,most of the Mozarabe )
Sunday June 12 Casa De Peregrinos in Santa Fe de Mundujar Walked, by our reckoning, 22 kilometres today . We started at 6am as we were expecting it to be hot. First part out of Almeria was long and uphill through the usual collection of fairly unattractive developments and industrial infrastructure that seems to surround every Spanish City, no matter how attractive the inner,old parts.
Our first test was the roundabouts as there is one massive one on the way out and we could not find the “flechas”. Eventually succeeded and for next hour and half we headed up hill until eventually we descended into the dry river bed of the Ataraxas river. This was a bit of a slog for four kilometres along the river, not only the length but only a small trickle in the middle which set off a rather noxious smell. Also the river bed seems to be used for dumping of rubbish ,so not a pristine environment.
We saw no others all day and we are alone in this Refugio. We understand that there are only two or three hundred a year do t this Camino . As well as the on line Spanish guide we have been following Kevin O ‘Briens blogg-Thank you Kevin ,and thank you Jan Sebastian too (followed on facebook and just before us so we were warned of a lot of twists and turns )
Its been a mixed sort of day ,mostly hot ,hard underfoot or smelly.The walk along the riverbed was not as pretty as one would imagine from the word”riverbed”even. Pebbles of different shapes and sizes shifted underfoot,interspersed with rubbish, dogshit and dead animals.On either side of the banks tuffs of brown grass thrust through the sand and hardened mud, with a few cactuses which looked as if even they were struggling to survive
Suburbs of Almeria just as uninspiring as any suburb anywhere .Sunday too so not many people around to add some colour
After Rioja the way was better,a narrow road with olive, fig, orange trees and the odd large and flowering copiously jacaranda. Bougainvillea too ,so sometimes there was a mass of purple and red around the houses painted all shades of red ,orange and yellow .As we approached Mundujar the houses became more Arabic looking ,flatter roofs ,painted a thick and stark white with addition of blue for doors or around windows.Some deserted places which would have been splendid in their time, but are now past repair. Not the tourist quaint villages and fincas ,especially this hot time of the year, so that the poverty seems extra apparent in pockets s of what seem more expensive areas ,Possibly older retired people of well off working in Almeria?
We eventually arrived in Santé Fey de Mundujar and had to walk another km or so to the bar in the village to get the key for the albergue,Woman kindly got her husband to give us a lift back up the hill ,after we had a beer and some fish .We haven’t been very hungry but its been hot ,and the smell along the river bed did turn my stomach. I am re reading Patrick Whites Voss at the moment and sometimes today the two landscapes ,the dry ,harsh ,unforgiving Australian one and the equally dry Spanish one seemed to converge, Moreover I am quite conscious of White’s theme of” the search for the inland sea” ;the desire to look for that mythical or mystical place which will offer peace/goodness/Happiness/a sense of belonging/god or whatever .For some people the yearning for discovery influences choices of where they go. Something along the lines of better to travel than to arrive, and always there is a hope of discovering something new, the landscape and places passed through are not important.
13/6 Aboloduy : wonderous images of this magic place :white houses ,palm trees after a lengthy ,hard ,slog in a dry riverbed with long grass either side .a mass of flat roofed homes with strips of colour on the outsde of doors and windows .A Moorish church up the hill and winding streets .set between looming mountains .From the Hostal at the top of a steep hill you can look down at night beyond the houses to the mountains to a fairy place of little lights and ,fountains ,patches of colours ,beneath a full moon
14/6 We left Alboloduy around 6.30 and made good progress a,following the map Jose gave to us. First three hours was ok in terms of heat but hit some steep climbs and hills that sapped the energy. By the time we hit the final stretch which we thought would be pretty easy the heat was starting to build. We had a long slow winding descent down to the river bed and then followed the river for what we thought would be the last few kilometres. Turned out to be about 6 k’s of winding creek bed flanked by tall stands of bamboo. This seemed to channel the heat and we were also in a kind of canyon with hills on either side with frequent changes of direction. We kept expecting to see our destination ‘Naciemento’ at each turn but it just dragged on and on.
Finally got to the small village of Naciemento and found a bar and the barman took us to the Casa Rural just down the calle from the bar. This was a traditional upstairs downstairs casa just like a normal Spanish short stay home. By this time 3.00pm the temperature was about 36 to 38 degrees. We tried to have a sleep but the heat inside was really too much so you could only doze. Later we had a few beers and some tapas at the bar, checked out the route out for next day and then tried to get to bed early.
Restless night , went to bed at 10 but did not get any sleep until around 1am. I know that because the town clock rang every hour and every quarter hour. I can only presume residents have got used to it. We left the window open because of the heat. I had to keep on getting up, wetting towel and draping it over myself with a fan blowing on the towel. Slept about 4 hours I think.
Wednesday 15th June Naciemento to Abla
Left early about 6.45 because I had set my alarm wrongly. First kms were along the river bed and relatively flat and easy. Back down to the river bed and fairly placid walking till Abla which we reached about 1.pm. That is when our troubles started. Stopped at Truckers type bar on the carreterra just coming into town and had coke and boccadilla. Barman was not that helpful. We thought we would gain a start on tomorrow and push on to Finana which we did for a couple of k’s although we were on road as were not sure about the camino location, arrows were not helpful or we missed them. Saw a bustop with a woman and she said a bus was due 20 minutes so we caught that for 6 k. Older woman gave us direction to Albergue that was listed in the Camino guide but that took us out of town again. We retraced steps and lady road workers told us we could get key to albergue from ayuntamiento.(town council)So up a steep hill close to 3pm when office closes to abrupt “completo” from ayuntamiento staff. No help there. Walked down again and then talked to people who said nothing else but rooms at petrol station. Walked 1.5 kilometres back to Petrol station and attendant called a cab for us to go back to Abla. Tried the hostel there but also completo so back again to petrol station for cost of 10 euros. Eventually got a bed there which was a typical truck stop anonymous motel style room but serves us right. Should have stuck to the maxim that better to find somewhere early and not be under pressure of siesta when no one around or offices etc. shut.
Thursday 16th June, Hueneja Albergue
So set off early this morning determined to get to this place before everything closing up and no information. The weather was cool and the path clearly marked. It was uphill but gentle and through some pleasant scenery .Got into Hueneja and made straight to the ayunamiento. Then of course we nearly had a repeat of yesterday ,but this time chasing the key s to the Albergue. Made it to the convent and then no indication of where to enter to get keys.The church door was open and there was a side door open from the church .Hesitant to go through as thought it might be someone’s quarters .Tried old age or mental home next. Old man in grounds indicated to press the gate button to get in.He promptly moved out and that was the last we saw of him so hope he was not an inmate who has escaped. Banged on a locked door but no answer. Went out again and into the church. Through the door and up some stairs ,another door, but not locked .I opened it and it opened onto a sort of balcony which surrounded a garden and doors downstairs. Another unlocked door and I knocked and went inside. A woman on phone. She indicated that she knew I wanted the keys but went on talking. By this time I felt like I was in Alice in Wonderland .Then a man dressed in white appears and asked me in Spanish did I want the keys. He disappeared and came back with the keys on a wooden block and gestured vaguely towards somewhere, said to bring them back in the morning and disappeared as suddenly as he had come .
Anyway we had the key and found the albergue. Its great and donativa which is even greater. Can’t help wondering though why it is such a process to get the key , maybe to discourage people wandering through, not real Peregrinos like us! Figures if Catholic church involved some suffering required . So here we are washing done and will go down to the bus stop later and see if Clare ( cousin from Uk who jointed us for part of walk )has made the bus from Granada.
Friday 17th JuneWaiting for Clare( my cousin from Uk) to arrive and staying at Huenija for the day. Will walk first thing tomorrow. 3 buses today from Guadix so expect Clare to get one of them. Good night last night at the bar Lepanto. We had six wines and 3 glasses of anis which I think were free. Also with each glass of wine we had a tapa each free so all up we spent the night at the bar for just under ten euros. And we managed to get wifi
Woke at about 7am and met first bus at 9.30 am but Clare not on it so while we were packed ready to go just in case this means we stayed the day here. Went back to Bar for wifi and then to plaza for market which was interesting. Clare has just arrived now on the 1.50pm bus so we are finally met up. Fellowship of the Ring has got together again.