14 May: Villafranca de los Barros to Torremejia

(Knowing that we would be getting away early in the morning – see photo above – and knowing it was going to be a long walk – 27km plus we estimated another one or so as we were staying in the very first house of the village and had to walk right through town – knowing all that I wrote a blog post last night as I lay in my little cubicle bunk with its own power point and light. Now all I have to do is insert the pictures from today…….if you look at them over and over for seven and a half hours you’ll get a very accurate view of our day)

  The language thing has not been what we expected. We’d been learning Spanish and arrived all fired up ready to use the little we know. We can ask for beds and follow directions to the shower and laundry with ease. When a fellow pilgrim told us yesterday (in Spanish) that there were no locks on the bathroom doors and so we would leave them open when not in use, we checked our supposed understanding by verifying the absence of locks. Seems we did OK.

 I can ask where the supermarket is and follow directions to get there – and when the supermarket turned out to be not the sort with aisles and baskets where you help yourself to packets from a shelf, but the sort with little individual stalls and everything behind the counters, I nearly ran out to look for the familiar sort. But I remembered this is exactly what I want language-wise so I jumped on in and got one and a half kilos of potatoes, an eggplant, a kilo of tomatoes, two onions, a head of garlic, two big red peppers and two Italian peppers (long green ones, not that I had to say that – I just read aloud the sign) for three euros and twelve cents. I even managed to insist I had the right change. Success breeds confidence so I bought five fancy somethings from a nearby panaderia as well as six short baguettes (because we needed four but the lady was adamant three for one euro was such good value I shouldn’t just buy four). 
 These are the kinds of interchanges I’d been expecting, but were in short supply until yesterday. I’ve spent the last week speaking bucketloads of Polish and a fair bit of German too. The kids commented this is the first time they have listened to conversations in three or four languages all at once. There is no one common language amongst this group of people who are walking the same stages and mostly end up in the same accommodation most nights, and apart from with our fellow Kiwis, English does not feature highly. Pani Sabina says something in Polish, I translate it to German and English while she simultaneously repeats herself in Italian and someone adds the Spanish. Then the next sentence happens with the requisite translating and on it goes. If Pani’s Italian husband, Benedict, or the Snoring Spaniard,  Vincent, are absent the process is much quicker! At the beginning of the week I was stumbling about mixing up languages, throwing Polish words into German sentences and vice versa, but they seem to be sorting themselves out in my brain a bit now. I’m even learning a bit of Italian just by listening to it in these convoluted conversations, and having lived in Italy for the past thirty years, Pani sometimes forgets to speak Polish to me and jabbers away in Italian. (OK, let’s not overstate the case – I now know “bello” said in a very sing-songy voice,  and “domani” and “ei, tu” and “quando parti” and not much else)


The great thing about all this is the kids think I’m fabulous;-) It’s all gibberish to them and even if I’m apologizing profusely for butchering a phrase or asking for how to say something, they think I’m working miracles. Ordinarily they are not so easily impressed;-)

They are doing their bit too. They don’t get food or stamps in their journals unless they ask in Spanish. If they want to find a toilet, I don’t ask for them. On one of the particularly cold and miserable days they composed a full speech to use at the first albergue we came to: “Hello. Do you have a lot of hot water? It is necessary for me today. I need it. Do you have it? I want hot water. Do you understand? I need a lot of hot water.” Of course, all we got out was the first sentence before the lovely Senora was busy assuring us they did – even though there was only enough for one short shower for one person! 

But today we had hot showers. 

  This is not a picture of us taking a shower (obviously). It is us taking a food break and feeling a bit tired and enjoying the view of….can you guess? Yes, grapevines.

And one more thing. There *was* an adventure today, and I must say I was glad of a hot shower! Ella-Rose (9) wrote in her journal:Don’t judge mud by its cover. Well, mum did. She went the hard way, the muddy way and the wet way. I watched mum try and cross, but she kept on sinking and getting mud all over her shoes. It was hileriose (hilarious), It really was. Her shoe came right off and the mud got softer so finally she decided to turn back cut her shoes were stuck.

Micaiah (13) embellished the same story in his journal: It was sunny and that meant we all had dry socks and shoes. That is, all of us except mum. She had muddy shoes and her green socks were brown, muddy brown. This is how her socks and shoes (usually green as well) became brown. We had been walking for a good one and a half hours when we came to a big inhumanly puddle. It was the width of the path and on either side there was what looked like firm mud. Mum went left of the puddle while the rest of us went right, the safe way. We reached the far side and glanced back at mum, who was in obvious difficulty. It appeared she had got stuck in the thick gooey mud. We called bits of advice to her including the sensible “Turn around”. Turn, she did, at the cost of her shoe that she left behind in the mud in the process of pulling her foot from the goo. Us kids found this hilarious and started laughing. The hilarity was increased when mum nearly lost her other shoe. Anyway, I loved her post-incident comment: I’m glad you found that funny!

first sinking (time to take a pic of course!)


Distance: 28.1km Total distance: 223km


2 thoughts on “14 May: Villafranca de los Barros to Torremejia

  1. That is why Villafranca de los Barros is named so. When I was with the bicycle there was hard for me all that straight path, I can not imagine walking!!!! Congrats for all of you!!!!

  2. Haha this post made me laugh. Not so much at you getting stuck in the mud Rach – lots of sympathy here for you – but rather your linguistic ability bringing you kudos from the kids! Well done! Çok güzel.

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