Those Roman Builders

Colossians 3:15

Yesterday the temperature hit the eighties and the sun was out and bright. Sun burn was a common denominator. The discussion amongst pilgrims focused on what the walk today would be like. The planned walked included the longest stretch of the entire Spanish Camino without a bar, restaurant or market. This 17 km stretch has witnessed breakdowns and disorientation. We were psyched.

Got up at 5:30, a record for us, and ate a quick breakfast and were on the road shortly after 6:30. We were not alone. Everyone wanted to get the lonely stretch done before the heat of the day. Experience has taught us that the key issue is always water. We filled up and had nearly 4 quarts. Of course that is nearly eight pounds but when you need to be ready for a desert march, weight is no consideration.

The first five kilometers were along a paved road filled with pilgrims. Not much to see other than vigorous and numerous wildflowers and irrigation ditches. Reached the Via Aquitana built by those energetic Romans. The section we would walk was nearly 12 Kms. The original pavement is still there but covered with a preservative layer of gravel. This is actually a good things since Roman pavement requires you to be a Legionnaire.

We read that since there is no suitable road base in the immediate area that the Romans hauled 100,000 tons of rock to this wet and boggy region. Of course, Roman slaves probably did the work but even then management was required. There were no visible remnants of Roman villas near the Camino. We were not inclined to detour to one of the excavated sites.

Speaking of Villas, that is one thing you do not see. The Roman system of land ownership with the 1% owning almost all of the land and leasing it to peasants evolved into the latifundia system that we associate with the Middle Ages. In return for protection in a village located near a somewhat fortified villa, the peasants gave a sizable percentage of their crops raised on leased land. As the villas evolved into the land owning nobility and their castles, the peasants continued to cluster nearby. The village parish church and some specialists like herbalists and bone setters met their needs. Today the farmers prefer to live in the same villages bringing their tractors and equipment back to the village and home at night. The only buildings you see in the countryside are outbuildings for hay storage. No American Gothic with a pitchfork and farmhouse in the background.

The sun rose but it was still cool with a light wind. By 10 we were within striking distance of a bar. This means Limon beverage and a probable accounting of pilgrims. We entered the village of Caldadilla de la Cueza and found the bar. We also reconnected with the Austrian Dread Girl. She had seen a doctor and got pills. She did a couple light days and then started a regimen of 30 and 35 km days to catch up with her friends. She was quite happy and well. It was nice to talk to her.

While we were relaxing when a thunder storm hit. We had been watching the clouds move towards us all morning but the rain was a surprise. Quite a change from the anticipated desert conditions. It is one of those mixed blessings. The sun is great after days of grey. Equally, cloud cover is easier to walk in than the heat. It appears that weather will be cool or rainy for the next few days.

Reached our 26 km destination Terradillos after being advised by an old guy in a suit to take the road other pilgrims passed on. He was right. The other trail would have meant more walking. It was a bit of a reunion this afternoon. Spent some time with a Pastor on Sabbatical from St. Louis. He is in the same Free Evangelical Church that we attend at home. He was doing the Camino. Enjoyed dinner with him and a young man starting a church in Berlin. Interesting perspective on the Camino And Christian tradition.

Hear thunder right now. Time for bed and see what tomorrow brings. I will post this in the morning when we reach a wifi hot spot.

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