It turned out we had a great night’s sleep even with the late arriving and early departing family in the room next door. We breakfasted in the hotel bar—which was growing on us and folks becoming friendlier and was already busy just after 7:30 on a Sunday morning. We made an early (for us) departure before 8:30 following the well marked detour route, Cordel de Merida, that would save us going back through Alcuéscar town. There was some strong rain early in the day and we were glad for our pack rain covers and our jackets. We were on a lovey path that was close to the highway but not on it. We came quite close to some hunters in the morning and from that point on we tried to be a little louder than usual in our conversation and we were glad that Nedjo’s pack is orange.
We veered off the path into the village of Don Antonio and found—with some kindly assistance—the social club where we had a delicious coffee and put on sunscreen as the rain was changing to sun. Nedjo had been doing some walking the past couple of days in his loafers as his boots were really hurting his feet. But after a few hours the lack of support would start to take a toll. Once back on the trail we paused so he could try his boots without the insoles and with my thicker hiking socks and that seemed to work a bit better.
There were a lot of cows today as we walked back in the dehesa, but no pigs to be seen to enjoy an acorn bounty. We stopped for lunch at an actual picnic shelter that was by a beautiful, old stone bridge. It got quite windy as we were paused and that turned out to be just a taste of the windy afternoon that was ahead of us. We were walking straight into the wind which really slowed us down and my hat kept blowing off and eventually I had to give up on it. The wind made such a roar in my ears that I found it quite difficult. The water we had was also very heavily chlorinated and it made it hard to drink enough. So in that way it was a challenging afternoon. But, there was also the new enchantment of mileage markers along the cordel, huge granite cylinders that had been there since Roman times. All of a sudden milestone had its original meaning.
We were happy to see Valdesalor come into site. It is a small, new town and we were booked into a new, chic posada. We soon found out that for such a tiny place, Valdesalor is hopping on a Sunday night. Bingo was in full swing at Rincon de Julia and it seemed too loud so we thought we’d check out one of the bars instead, opting for the quieter of the two. Food wasn’t going to be available until much later so we stayed for a drink, great people watching and some impressive soccer on the big screen TV. The place was bustling with everyone from toddlers to grandparents. Some were having coffee, some a drink. But all knowing each other and warmly greeting each new person that came in. Then we headed back to Julia’s where it turned out we could dine in a quieter back room—probably so we wouldn’t disturb the bingo players! The French/Spanish couple we’d met a couple of days earlier came in not too long after us and we had a good visit and tasty food. They run an albergue on a pilgrim route in France and then in the off season walk themselves. The woman was also having a hard time with her feet and given they were going all the way to Santiago we hoped they would soon improve.