Puente de la Reina to Lorca – 14 Kms, 22,03 steps
The town of Puente de la Reina (literally “bridge of the Queen”) is named after the bridge shown above, built in 1036 by the Spanish Queen Muniadona to help pilgrims cross the river on their way to Santiago. I walked across the bridge this morning on my way out of town and stopped to take the picture.
My walk today, under cloudy and then sunny skies, with temps up to 85 F, crossed farm fields and rivers. I went up to and through three mountain towns. Camino Rule of Thumb: when you go downhill, you know you’re in for an uphill. And there’s usually an uphill at the end of the day.
I’ve begun to run into people I met last week and haven’t seen for days. This is part of the Camino fun: you make an acquaintaince, don’t see them for days, and are then reunited at Happy Hour somewhere down the path. I never feel alone out here as a result.
Hill towns have rich histories, often of resistance to central authority. This is reflected in their buildings. I guess the locals must get used to having to contend with steep streets every day. For me, it’s a workout getting into and out of town,
It’s amazing that anything grows out here, as the soil is incredibly rocky. Obviously, olives and grapes grow well, but plowing fields for hay and other crops must be hard on the farm equipment.
I passed a guy today going the other way, against the flow of pilgrims, who looked familiar. I was sure I had seen him last night; he had a distinctive, square-jawed, boxer’s face. No backpack or hiking pole. Then a few hours later I saw him again, going the other way. But I was sure he hadn’t passed me headed in my direction. What the heck was going on? The third time I saw him, I stopped him and asked. Was this Camino magic? No, he was a bus driver who leap-frogged ahead of his tour group clients and walked back a bit to rendezvous with them, before driving the bus to the next stop and repeating the process. “Tu no es loco” he said, letting me know I wasn’t losing my marbles in the heat.
The Spaniards generally do a great job of highway flyovers (as you’ll see later in my trek) and also immense irrigation aqueducts. The one above reminds me of the Roman Pont du Gard aqueduct I saw in southern France last Fall.
The Camino is extremely important to these small towns and they go out of their way to welcome pilgrims, to provide clear signage, and to offer services. I’m enoying my walks immensely and am getting used to the physical demands. I’ve had no foot or leg issues (other than some fatigue) and my recovery time after a steep incline is improving. I am very happy to be here.