Friday 13.5.16 Don Benito to Santa Amalia. 13 miles. Flat one unexpected ford.
Unlucky for some but not for us. An excellent day walking, it failed to rain until we were in lodgings. Mud not glutinous. The town of Medalin at a perfect distance from the start had a bar open for coffee in the main square with a statue of Hernan Cortez (his birthplace) and under the large medieval castle and a church with tthe highest stork density yet. Much flying beak clacking and a possible aerial courtship. There is also at least one pair of kestrels or lesser kestrels nesting on the church as well as all the sparrows and others lodging in the understories of the storks nests. Altogether a very pleasant place for coffee.
We leave over “the Roman bridge” in this case there has been a bridge here since roman times. It crosses the Rio Guadiana which flows to our destination Merida and then to Badajoz becoming the border with Portugal and finally emptying into the Atlantic West of Cadiz. We soon pass within 100m of a proper Roman bridge with original main stone arch and only non structural repair over the last millenium or so.
The route then continues along a via pecuria (sheep drove road) with much bird life. Spotted a black winged stilt (Tony), a Pied Flycatcher (Betsy),storks and hoopoos (Tim and Ray ). We are acosted by a shepard with his herd in a field alongside the very well cared for irrigation channel we think he trys to tell us of a shorter route to Merida and asks if we will be there tomorrow. We think two days to get to that Roman city. Also in the sluices controlling the irrigation of the fields are numbers of fine spiders. As well as the previous birds we see multiple bee eaters in the fields just over ther iirrigation control bank.
On entering town Betsy recognises the name of a restaurant El Caribe recomended by Hans many days ago, the hospitalero on the night outside Cordova. True to his advice there are multiple large trucks parked outside. A sure sign of a good lunch and so it proves. Two bottles of inclusive local red later we move off into town. The guide book warns just outside Don Benito of the fast road and narrow bridge this was unpleasant, but nothing compared to the perils of the junction, crash barriers, two drainage ditches and main road between El Caribe and the rest of Santa Amalia. It is however obvious others have sucessfully negociated these perils before us, tracks down and out of the ditches are obvious. Timing is important.
Link to where we are on Google Maps