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Day five on the Camino Teresiano, Part I, on the Southern Route to Garcihernández is again across the wide open Meseta, passing through Macotera, a natural park and Tordillos. With the hot and open road, it is never more likely that you will find inner stillness, if you invite it!
In the inner stillness where meditation leads, the Spirit secretly anoints the soul and heals our deepest wounds. ~ St. John of the Cross
It is in Mancera de Abajo where the Caminos Teresianos diverge into the Northern Route and the Southern Route. We chose the Southern, and the description to follow is only of this route.
I have chosen to divide our day five, a full 31.83 kilometers, into Part I and Part II because of the length of the day and for ease of writing. Plus, it is in Garcihernández where I have chosen to break up this long stage, where the Northern Camino Teresiano route rejoins the Southern, making it a perfect place to end the stage.
It is unfortunate that there is no accommodation in Garcihernández whatsoever. It would be nice to stay here for the night, then to arrive early in Alba de Tormes where there is so much to see and do. Keep this in mind when you plan your own stages, and make sure you allow enough time in Alba.
Here is our interactive Google map of this part of day five on the Camino Teresiano, with all the available services placed on it as usual.
Despite Macotera being a sizeable town, there is no albergue there. If you decide to extend your day to Macotera, you will need to stay in a casa rural.
Tordillos also has no albergue, but a casa rural. Once we decided to combine days two and three and end in Mancera de Abajo, we essentially had committed to doing the entire 31.83 kilometers of day five. We could have stayed in Tordillo after 14.3 kilometers to split the day, but again, we decided that it was just too short a day for us. It is unfortunate that there is no accommodation in Garcihernández whatsoever.
There are plenty of places to eat, drink and get groceries in Macotera, which is what we did. There is supposed to be a café in Tordillos, but we did not see one, nor does Google maps show one, despite walking through the center of town.
We tanked up in Macotera, and then walked onward to a café in Garcihernández before stopping again. Garcihernández has plenty of cafés and a supermarket, right on the Camino, but surprisingly no accommodation.
Plan your own day accordingly. If you spend the night in Macotera, it is only a 23.4 kilometer day to Alba de Tormes, with a nice stop in Garcihernández.
From Mancera to Garcihernández there are several small climbs. You will first climb up 40 meters (130 feet) from Mancera de Abajo, through Macotera, then descend to the gullies of the natural park. After the park, it is essentially flat walking until Tordillos. After Tordillos you will be required to climb up a wee bit before the final descent into Garcihernández. The total elevation gain for this part I is only 163 meters (530 feet) and the loss is 240 meters (787 feet).
While we did not walk this route, I have added the GPS tracks from the Spanish Caminos Teresianos website for your convenience. (You will need to use a translator.) The services I have placed on the map between the two towns are entirely from researched information.
Since this northern route from Mancera de Abajo to Garcihernández is longer than the southern route at a long 31.5 kilometers, it is suggested that you break the day in Coca de Alba at 24.4 kilometers, then complete the rest of the Camino Teresiano as a day six from Coca de Alba to Alba de Tormes for 17.5 additional kilometers.
There is a municipal albergue in Coca de Alba, where you must call or write in advance to the town hall to secure a place, (contact info: Tel +34 923 541 451 or email email@example.com).
There are also plenty of services in Peñaranda de Bracamonte, including the Albergue Juvenil Diego de Torres Y Villarroel, (contact info: Tel. +34 923 540 988, email: firstname.lastname@example.org) if you prefer to extend your day four from Narros del Castillo for about a 22 kilometer day.
The elevation profile shown below, for the entire 31.5 kilometers to Garcihernández looks similar to the southern route.
We turned on our GPS at the town square, the Plaza de Paz, in Mancera de Abajo, at the information board where the Northern and Southern routes diverge. Choosing the Southern route, we headed southwest on the Calle Dr Eduardo Martinez, that you can see in the photo below.
In only 300 meters you come to the Río Zamprón and cross it. Immediately after the bridge, shown below, take the side road to the right.
You are now on the open road called the Camino de Macotera. In 200 meters, stay to the left. It is a total of 6.74 kilometers on this open road to Macotera.
We again experienced a most lovely, subtle sunrise, the sky glowing with pinks, rose and blue all around us. We appreciated this time of day, because it was to be quite hot once the sun came up. We walked along in silence, a moving meditation.
The sun soon crested the hill ahead as we began a more strenuous part of the climb up and out of Mancera.
We passed harvested fields of sunflowers. The ones that were missed in the harvest greeted us with their glorious sunny faces on the morning of day five on the Camino Teresiano.
After cresting the first incline, at about 3.2 kilometers into day five on the Camino Teresiano, a large farm could be seen in the distance. We heard the most ridiculous squealing noises coming from the farm.
As we approached, it turned out to be a pig farm! The pigs were squealing because they were being fed. I had no idea that pigs made such a ruckus! It was almost a distressful sound, if I didn't realize what was happening.
And just past the pig farm, after cresting the second incline, at the top of the rise, we could see Macotera in the distance, still 2.67 kilometers away from here. The open space calls you for silence and contemplation!
It was at 6.95 total kilometers into the day, per our GPS, when we came to the first buildings of Macotera. Immediately you cross the SA-105 with the Petronor gas station just beyond it and carry straight on, and onto the Calle San Gregorio. We knew we could get a cup of café con leche at the station, but we were hoping for a nice bar.
Right across the street from the gas station is the Restaurante Montaraz, but it was closed as we passed, just before 10 a.m.
In about 250 meters, the Camino takes a left turn onto the Calle Larga at this corner building. I doubt you can see it, but there is a woman in the window on the left, and she was ironing while watching all the street activity!
In only about another 100 meters on the Calle Larga, you come to this large and wonderful Supermercado Nieto. We went in and stocked up our packs with fruit, nuts and of course, cookies!
The lady at the check-out counter was fascinated by us, and she must have talked our ears off for about 15 minutes. Finally, we had to break away and say we must be going! I wanted to say that the café con leche was calling my name!
Right after the supermarket, you take the first left onto the Calle Peñaranda. Within 50 meters, you see the flags of the town hall, and the town parish church is just across the street, the Iglesia Parroquial de Nuestra Señora del Castillo.
The church was constructed in the 15th and 16 centuries, in the Gothic style. If you are lucky enough to find it open when you are here, it has a 17th century Mudejar coffered ceiling. We were not lucky on day five of the Ruta Teresiana.
This is the main plaza in town, the Plaza Mayor. There are also banks on this plaza if you are low on cash.
It was a total of 7.74 kilometers into day five on the Camino Teresiano until we arrived in this plaza. There are two bars side-by-side, the Café Central and the Café Pub Garden, shown below and the one we went into. It looks brand new, or newly remodeled with a big, beautiful and new, large bar counter. We enjoyed our break and our café con leche very much!
Then it was up and onward, past the church and plaza and left onto the Calle Honda. We were amazed at how neat and clean all these towns were! Macotera was no exception.
Macotera is a large town, and as I stated above, we were surprised that there is no albergue, and only one, perhaps two casa rurales. The first is the Casa Rural Cortijo Macoterano. Google maps lists another, with the same name but a different location. It is doubtful that this is correct. If you plan to stay in Macotera, contact the number in the link provided, or stop in at the city hall to see your possibilities. It is imperative that you call ahead in these small towns.
We saw no accommodations as we walked through town, and the Camino supposedly walks right by one of them, that I have listed on my interactive Google map, the one without the reference link.
370 meters from the church, along the Calle Hondo on day five, you walk by this charming hermitage, the Ermita del Cristo de las Batallas along the Camino Teresiano.
In about 250 meters from the Ermita, you cross over the DSA-140 to stay on the Calle Honda. The sign at the intersection says that Tordillos is 6 km away if you were to stay on the DSA-140, however this figure is quite similar to the Camino path.
You stay on the Calle Honda for about 850 meters when you come to the farm, shown below. Leave the Calle Honda and turn left onto the Camino de Fresnillo a Macotera. There is a sign at the intersection that points ahead toward the Parque Natural Las Cárcavas. Cárcavas means gullies in English. I didn't know that at the time, but because we are heading towards gullies, it will be downhill.
The downhill is gradual on this open road. In about 1/2 kilometer, stay to the right at this Y-intersection. You can see the trees in the distance of the natural park.
In another 800 meters or so, arrive at the "Welcome to Las Cárcavas Parque Natural" sign, shown below. We have just logged 11.3 kilometers into day five on the Ruta Teresiana at this sign.
Pass by these great picnic areas, with BBQ grills and picnic tables. If you wished to stop here and have a picnic it is a wonderful place to do so.
It is only a bit more than 300 meters when you see and pass by the exit gate of the Gullies Natural Park.
Another 600 meters and you have descended a bit more and crossed the River Margañán, and come to a T-intersection where you turn right. And at that, you are back on the wide open lanes towards Tordillos on the Calle Desiderio Mateos.
After the turn, Tordillos is about 2.5 kilometers ahead. Here in the photo below, Tordillos is very close.
Enter the south side of the town, with the information board just before this photo, at a total of a bit more than 14 kilometers.
Next, take a left hand turn at the edge of town, onto the Calle Rondahermosa. After one block, turn right onto the Calle Estrella and pass the Capilla de la Inmaculada, shown below on day five of the Camino Teresiano.
Walk another three blocks to this decorative fountain, and with another potable fountain to the right of it, and take a right hand turn onto the Calle Carbaca. Pass by a tienda on your left.
Walk one block and turn left, back onto the Calle Larga. You can see the church ahead. There is one casa rural along this street, the Casa de Vacaciones Tordillos that I never did see. It would be a reasonable halfway mark in Tordillos, from Mancera de Abajo to Alba de Tormes at 14.3 kilometers if you wanted to break up the 31.8 kilometer day. Just be sure to call ahead to the Casa Tordillos if you plan to stay here.
There is no albergue in Tordillos, nor did we see any cafés, so also inquire about obtaining meals. There is a small tienda right along the Camino, just after the fountain as noted above.
Within about 250 meters on the Calle Larga, come to the Iglesia Parroquial de la Asunción de Nuestra Señora, the town church, shown below. You are now almost exactly 15 kilometers into the day.
We stopped here in the shade to have a quick cookie break and a nice respite from the hot sun. We had hoped to find a bite to eat here in a café, but instead we had cookies from our pack, waiting for a better opportunity in Garcihernández farther down the road.
To the southwest of the church, there is this intersection, shown below, where the Ruta Teresiana turns left onto the Calle Camino Alba at this house. You can see the prominent red arrow on the power pole.
After leaving Tordillos, the Calle Camino Alba is true meseta walking, open, exposed and as we passed through, hot as all get out, even in the end of September. A small elevation gain is required of the pilgrimage traveler as well, which you can see below.
When you reach the rise in the road, you can see windmills far in the distance, That is your destination in Garcihernández on the Camino Teresiano. You will be seeing those windmills for the next 6 or so kilometers on day five. Take your time and move into the inner stillness of this open space!
Whenever an intersection presents itself along this open stretch, remain straight on.
Here is Rich on the open road, with his blue bandana shielding his neck from the sun. The windmills are slowly getting closer.
The trees you see in the distance are finally looming ahead, as we approached the hamlet of La Lurda (the Plaza del Mercado is in the center of town, towards which the signs along the road lead).
The Camino Teresiano takes a strong bend to the southwest, heading towards the trees, with a cluster of buildings ahead. It is the Gamo River valley that is the reason for the trees.
Continue straight on and following the tree-lined lane toward La Lurda.
Cross the Gamo River and come to a T-intersection at this church. There is not much of a town here. Go right at the church and onto the road to Garcihernández.
The road is paved, and lo and behold, the windmills are coming into view once again as we headed towards them.
It is only about one kilometer from La Lurda to the roundabout at the south end of Garcihernández, shown in the photo below. Walk straight on as the mojón indicates.
In about a half a kilometer, turn right onto the Calle Molino, and up ahead is the welcome sight of the Bar de Cuatro. We stopped in for a bite, and an Aquarius, a café con leche and a respite from the sun! Sweeeeeet!
As we were sitting outside at the bar, along comes a flock of sheep, heading into town! The sheep were walking on the Northern route of the Camino Teresiano. This is where the two routes converge, at the church, just to the left of the photo.
The Iglesia Parroquial de San Juan Bautista in Garcihernández is only a few meters past the Bar de Cuatro, a short block, when you come to the church.
There are no accommodations in Garcihernández, so the pilgrimage traveler must continue on walking another 9.8 kilometers to Alba de Tormes. There are several bars and a supermarket farther along the Camino Teresiano in Garcihernández.
This part of the Ruta Teresiana on day five was a bit more of a challenge for me. All was well, and I was happy walking along with Rich on the open roads, moving to a meditative rhythm of the Earth.
However, at about 15 kilometers into the day, I felt a pain under my left knee cap. It was not a nice feeling, nor was it one that was about to go away quickly. This was a different hurt than I had on prior Caminos, in my left medial knee that had been tendonitis.
I was grateful for the break at the bar in Garcihernández. After resting for 30 minutes or so, we carried on for the second stage. I still had about 10 more kilometers to go to Alba and I was afraid that my knee was not going to hold up. Indeed, my nice meditative walking had just come to an end as I tried not to think about my knee.
To see a continuation of day five from Garcihernández to Alba de Tormes, click here.
May your own day five on the Camino Teresiano be filled with inner stillness as you walk meditatively on the meseta, May your walking be touched by the Spirit to anoint your soul for healing! Ultreia!
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