Wednesday, 3 April 2013

On the Via de la Plata

70 kms. walked so far - more than 400 to go to Santiago still. I´m in Zamora´s amazing public library at the end of a rest day - no progress along the Camino. But I seem to have walked as far as on previous days, getting happily lost in this old city. It has 23 Romanesque churches, including the Cathedral, and several worthwhile museums: the one I liked least was the Semana Santa Museum, full of all the tableaux which were being carried round the city last week - seeing them in a Museum is altogether less moving than seeing them move slowly through the crowds with that plangent music and the smell of incense. Salamanca isn´t as celebrated for its processions as Seville, but you can´t miss them, nor should you try to.

I´m now nicely baffled about what I have and haven´t seen, and about to retire to the Albergue for supper and I hope an early night. (I hoped that last night, but - as one does in Spain - got caught up in the football.)

As with most days since I started from Salamanca on Saturday, it´s been showery, and none too warm. The rain in Spain seems to fall mainly on the Camino, which is waterlogged - to a far greater extent than in April 2010, when we walked from Seville to Salamanca. I gather I´m lucky not having had to take my boots off yet, and wade across an overflowing stream or two. The Duero here in Zamora has spilled right over its banks, right up to the road, a brown spate rushing between the arches of the Roman bridge.

Perhaps it´s the weather, or maybe the state of the world, but there are fewer pilgrims than three years ago, but I´ve shared accomodation with some interesting people already including a Japanese jazz drummer and a song writer from Berlin - not on the same night. We all agree it´s very hard to see how Spain is ever going to recover from its economic crisis: in spite of massive public expenditure (no doubt authorised from Brussels) on infrastructure such as this library, nothing much seems to be happening anywhere, and there´s nobody around in the villages or countryside.

Walking is a great way to see a country, even if like me you struggle with the language. The birds don´t require translation, nor the flowers which are beginning to peep through. And it´s majestic scenery for the most part as I wend my way North.

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