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Day 8, Zafra to Villafranca de los Barros, Oct 28

Ancient olive tree.
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After a simple breakfast at the hotel and a quick jaunt out for fruit, we quickly left Zafra behind and were out in the countryside again. I think that can still be surprising to me how towns and even cities can give way to farms or more rural properties without the suburban sprawl we are more used to. The first leg of day was a very steep climb up and then down into the next town.

The town of Los Santos de Maimona had taken great pains to ensure that pilgrims could easily find their way through with large, yellow arrows painted on the newly paved roads. There was also a lovely little place for coffee—the first of many community-run cafes/social hubs that we found in small towns where perhaps a regular bar wouldn’t survive. We always seemed welcome and loved the vibe, good coffee and great bathrooms.

Large, yellow arrow.
Very large arrow pointing our way through town.

Leaving town we were soon back among the olive trees and grape vines and enjoyed a very pleasant walk. We saw our first quince trees with ripe fruit and wondered if we’d get the membrillo (quince paste) we’d enjoyed on our last trip to Spain and which Nedjo makes at home.

We hit a slight snag with a new routing that was not very well marked and that at first seemed to not be the official path but perhaps only designed to get to a new albergue (that we weren’t in need of for either shelter or sustenance). But in the end it worked out fine and was apparently designed to avoid crossing the train tracks. This was another instance where having offline maps on our phone helped as we could see that although we were not on our marked camino, we were on another trail that would take us into town.

Villafranca was larger than I had imagined and our hotel turned out to be at the far end of town, but I managed to navigate us straight there. I have been getting better at plotting our lodgings on the map ahead of time so I don’t have to struggle with that when we are arriving and usually tired and needing to pee. Our place was a slightly odd casa rural but since it had a decent kitchen we decided to cook and after a rest headed into the main part of town to get groceries. Nedjo made us a delicious pasta with lots of fresh vegetables and red wine (both for the sauce and for drinking).