We had a lazy start to the day since it was not a long one. After stopping to get cash, we were heading out at 10:30. The route leaving Mérida was much nicer than coming into the city, including passing by the impressive aqueduct, and soon we were on a separated bike/walking path that took us all the way to the Embalse de Prosperino, the reservoir where the water system for August Emerita started. Desperate for a bathroom break we stopped at a lakeside cafe for iced tea. Then heading away from the embalse we traversed along a very rural road, enjoying a lovely roadside picnic. The road eventually led to a sandy path which we followed through beautiful countryside. After the long and monotonous road to Torremejia on our last full day of walking, this was refreshingly varied and appealing.
We decided it was too early to stop when we came to the first little town with an albergue, so we continued on to Aljucen. This was our first leg without a place booked for the night and as it turned out it was a long weekend and pretty much everything was full. The very sweet couple who run the Restaurante El Parque immediately started calling around and found us a casa rural. At €50 it was pricier than anything so far, but it was what was available and we felt lucky not to have to turn around and walk back to the previous town. The house was huge and with a lot of outdoor space it reminded me of some of the places we’d rented in Nicaragua years earlier. We would have loved to cook, since we had a kitchen, but the grocery store was closed and it also made sense for us to be able to eat at the restaurant where they had been so helpful.
At the restaurant we met a Spanish/French couple who were also pilgrims and had a lovely visit with them before dinner. It was an excellent menú with the woman doing the cooking and the man waiting tables and running the bar. We were stuffed as we walked home but we couldn’t decline the offer of an older woman who shared a churro from the churreria truck that comes weekly. Now we were really full!