"Sun and heat, the two central characters today", boomed the TV news commentator. Such was the unexpected spike in temperatures country wide bulletins reported Weather Alerts.
Yesterday was very hot. So much so after 15 km a cyclist in distress begged for water. We had little left but shared what we had. We could have walked on to buy more but the heat was breath stealing and the Guide told us we had 3 more hours to go in shadeless open countryside. When a bus came, we got on! I'll walk the stolen 12kms another time.
Arriving in Colemar Viejo the heat was worse. 42 degrees. Walking along the street to the hostal an elderly lady just collapsed in front of us. She went down with a crunch and lay there with blood flowing from a gash in her arm. We went to her assistance and fetched a shopkeeper who with some local women took charge. I hope she is ok, but I fear not.
With dinner and 8 hours sleep the world seemed better this morning. We set off at 8am having breakfasted well. We loaded up with 7 litres of water between us and set off in the relative cool of the morning.
The Guide, written in 2000 is proving to be remarkably accurate. As it predicted we were shortly into the countryside following frequent yellow arrows along pleasant country lanes. The weather was temperate and we drank liberally.
The Guide told us to look to the mountains ahead. We would eventually cross them. The weather forecast hadn't discouraged the joggers or sports cyclists and throughout the day they occasionally passed with a warm greeting. They were probably thinking "mad peregrinos" in the same way we were certainly thinking the same about them.
We were very touched when a man stopped his 4 wheel drive to make sure we were ok and had plenty water. He accepted our thanks but turned down my invitation to walk with us!
We stopped for lunch after a straight 4 hours walk to Manzanares Real. The thermometer in the Square registered 28 degrees. So, it was much cooler today.
We had thoroughly enjoyed the walking so far. Wide expanses of countryside lay in the shadows of the mountains. We left Manzanes Real with families paddling in the reservoir and set out again.
The route continued to be beautiful but poco a poco we noticed the temperature rising. As we walked uphill to Mataelpino it seemed as hot as yesterday. We stopped in the little main square. 40 degrees.
Time to stop.
As ever on these little used routes plans are dependent on the availability of accommodation. Our original intention of walking on either a further 7 or 12kms was ditched. Not in this heat.
We went into the bar. As we sat with an ice cold Coke the men at the next table struck up conversation. "Where were we from?", "where had we walked from", "where were we going?' When they heard we were undecided about next steps the four of them offered suggestions. Then the guys at the bar joined in. Then the barmaid shouted her opinion. Many alternatives were examined critically. Eventually a consensus emerged. We would get a taxi forward 12kms to a hostal and return the next morning.
We arrived in a jiffy. The room has a bath! A sight which gladdens every pilgrim heart. A long bath this evening and only 12 km to stroll tomorrow. Heaven.