Our day two on the Vía de la Plata, from Cañedino to Villanueva de Campeán was not very beautiful, necessitating a walk paralleling the A-66 highway for the first 11 kilometers to El Cubo de la Tierra del Vino.
The remainder of the day through the countryside was easy, with a bit more visual interest.
“To have courage for whatever comes in life - everything lies in that.” ~ Santa Teresa de Jesús (de Ávila)
Going forward, our courage was strong on this second day, despite my personal lingering issues with my left knee. As in any pilgrimage, it was one foot in front of the other. The majestic, evergreen live oaks kept us company, as well as our company with one another, interspersed with individual silence.
Here is our interactive map of this day's journey, with the few services shown along the way. At 13 kilometers, there are full services if you need them in El Cubo de Tierra del Vino. Fill your packs with plenty of water for the journey as well as snacks that you hopefully bought in Salamanca. There are two tiendas in El Cubo to replenish your pack if you have run out.
If Villanueva de Campeán is your destination, there is only a bar in this small town, and no tienda! So stock up in El Cubo.
There are undulating hills as you walk along the highway in the first half of this day. A long gradual rise of about 50 meters (164 feet), unnoticeable over seven kilometers, followed by a long 120 meters (400 feet) of elevation loss into Villanueva de Campeán, makes up your day.
We set off from the Albergue Casa Saso at sunrise. The morning was clear and fresh.
In this section, the path and the dirt road run together side-by-side, and create a frontage Way that parallels the A-66 highway on your right. Additionally, the locals have created these lovely concrete pillars to guide your steps.
In the above photos and below, you can see the majestic, evergreen oak trees that surrounded us. In Spanish they are known as Encinos. They bear acorns which are used primarily for pig food. They don't harvest the acorns, but let the pigs root around below them and eat them.
Our host Alberto, from the Albergue Casa Saso says that some people roast the acorns and eat them, but he thinks it's best that the pigs eat the acorns, and we eat the pigs!
Today my left knee was feeling a bit of a niggle. I had had problems with it on the Camino Teresiano, the Camino that I had just finished. I self-diagnosed the condition as a patellofemoral injury, or "runner's knee" as it is commonly known. Runner's knee is an annoying pain immediately behind the kneecap.
The pain in my knee had started at around 15 kilometers on the fourth day on the way to Alba de Tormes. That night it got horribly sore. I had difficulty going up and down steps. The next day walking to Salamanca, it had been OK. The additional rest day in Salamanca helped. On our first day out of Salamanca (yesterday) it was OK, but my knee had stiffened up on that night.
Today, with just a "niggle" I was going to have to take it as it came, to see what happened. I was prepared for a plan "B" that included leaving the Camino if it became necessary. I was determined not to suffer a longer-term injury. I had nothing to prove.
At about 1.9 kilometers on the Vía de la Plata from Cañedino to Villanueva de Campeán, you come to the first overpass of the A-66, shown below. This is where you will take a diversion loop around to the west. This would be a common theme on this day, and you can see these diversions on the interactive Google map if you zoom in.
Also at the diversion is a sign announcing that the Castillo del Buen Amor is to the right and off-Camino about another 2.5 kilometers. It is a fantastic, restored 1000 year old Castle where you could stay for a mere 100 Euros/night.
Along the Way there were some random grape vines, loaded with grapes. We picked and ate some and they were quite delicious. We were to find out in the kilometers to follow that it was actually grape harvest season, in early October.
After a few more kilometers, in the distance, you will be able to see a rise in the land with a tower of sorts on the top. As you climb the rise, you will notice the second overpass of the A-66, shown below, and it is at about 4.25 kilometers into the day when you reach it.
At the top of the second overpass is a wayside chapel with a rooster on its top and the radio tower across the street, both shown below.
You can tell by the grey and obscure photos that it was getting more misty and overcast as the day progressed.
Here is the perfect shot of just how close the Camino is in proximation to the highway. Yet, it wasn't all that bad really. I was taking everything as it came.
At approximately 6.0 kilometers into the day on the Vía de la Plata from Cañedino to Villanueva de Campeán, the next landmark is the penitentiary shown below. You will see its tower in the distance, long before you pass it.
Shortly after the penitentiary, we encountered these pillars with Roman numerals painted on them. At first I didn't understand the information. Was it a countup or a countdown to something?
At about 6.55 kilometers on the Vía de la Plata from Cañedino to Villanueva de Campeán, you come to the third diversion around an overpass. By now it was misting heavily. Even though I was worried it was going to pour, the mist felt nice.
Immediately after rounding the third diversion, another set of pillars with the Roman numeral VI appeared. Indeed, at about 7.0 kilometers into the day, this could only be a countdown to El Cubo de Tierra del Vino. Some Camino angel had provided this information to the pilgrimage traveler. It would have been very welcome information if I was doing the long 36 kilometer leg from Salamanca!
In all my writings I have never used so many overpasses as landmarks, but indeed there is not much else out here to go by! At approximately 7.8 kilometers, come to a fourth overpass, shown below.
By 10 a.m. we logged in 9 kilometers, about 1/3 of our day's journey on the Vía de la Plata from Cañedino to Villanueva de Campeán. The rain looked to be gone. After only two countdown markings on the pillars, the countdown would now cease.
Below is another monotonous long stretch along the highway, and you can now see slight changes in the terrain. There were fewer trees and more scrubby, juniper-like plants. The dirt also seemed to get redder.
Below are the three peregrinos, heading for the final rise for the day along the highway.
At approximately 10 kilometers you come to the fifth and final overpass before you finally leave the frontage Way. When you pass this final bridge, shown below, there is less than one kilometer left along the highway. Hallelujah!
At about 11 kilometers, the white estate building on a hill ahead, shown in the photo below, is where the dirt road veers off to the left from the highway and turns to pavement.
This paved road now follows the path of the N-630 for about 700 meters, before actually joining it and walking on it toward El Cubo de Tierra del Vino.
You follow the N-630 for 1/2 kilometer before turning left at this water tower shown below.
Next, you will turn onto the "Calle Mayor" the Main Street and the sign tells you that you are one kilometer away from El Cubo from here.
It is at about 13 kilometers into the day that as you enter into the outskirts of town you are suddenly bombarded with signs for the albergues, on the Vía de la Plata from Cañedino to Villanueva de Campeán.
There is the private Albergue F&M (+34 980 57 73 71) sign, on the hill to your left, shown below. The actual albergue is found by turning left at the Café Bar Hernandez in the center of town and walking less than 100 meters on the Calle Garcia de la Serna. The F&M will be on your left (not pictured).
By the town sign, shown below, on the right of the photo is a sign for the private Albergue Turístico Torre de Sabre. To find the albergue, just follow the parallel dirt road on your right about 150 meters.
Next, turn right at these pylons, to shortcut to the street called the Calle de Ermita in front of the wall shown. Turn right and in a few meters you have arrived. It is easy to find with well-signed directions. Or locate the albergues on the interactive google map above.
Back on the Camino, shortly you enter town to see this sign below, to "Albergue" by the pharmacy. I believe this is meant to be the way to the Albergue Municipal de El Cubo de Tierra del Vino about 200 meters from here, to the left along the Calle de Toro.
The link I have provided is for the official website of El Cubo, so if you plan to stay here, call either of these numbers, 980 577 301 or 670 848 602 to verify, or just ask at one of the local bars a bit farther along.
Only a few meters onward is the first bar, the Café Bar Hernandez, right in the center of town. We chose to stop here, at the halfway point from Cañedino to Villanueva de Campeán on the Vía de la Plata. They had delicious tortilla, a traditional potato and egg casserole in the shape of a pie.
Just a few meters more, by the town square, there is also the Café Bar El Charro.
The town of El Cubo, is a very tidy and neat town, but it is not as big as you might expect. Only a few meters onward from the bars, go straight on at the old town church and its cross.
From beyond the church as you are leaving town, in about 150 meters, the Camino directs you to the left. At this point, it is about 13.5 kilometers thus far into the journey from Cañedino to Villanueva de Campeán on the Vía de la Plata.
1/2 kilometer later, at 14 kilometers total, stay right at the Y-intersection, where you will now notice that you are walking along an old railroad track to your right. Also note, if you haven't already, the different style concrete waymark, shown below.
Continue following this dirt route along the railroad for 4.8 kilometers, pass this ancient-looking railroad crossing sign at about 17.8 kilometers, shown below. We never did cross any tracks, but stayed parallel to them.
In another kilometer, at 18.8 kilometers total for the day, take a sharp left, and an immediate right, following the waymarks and now walk through open fields. The skies looked stormy, below, but the weather was cooler without the bright sun and it was a perfect day for walking.
Several kilometers later at 21 total, come to the top of a bluff, shown below. Things still look a little barren, but there are more trees that show up on the downhill side.
As you head down the hill, the views open up nicely, and for the first time your walk actually becomes visually pleasant.
The road itself is now descending noticeably and the terrain once again becomes a bit drab.
As you descend toward Villanueva de Campeán, there are many fields of grapes, and the harvest was in full swing as we passed by. Below is a wagon load full of grapes!
After about 3.5 kilometers of pleasant descending, following the waymarks northward, come to a Y-intersection, with the first tall pillar waymark shown below. In addition to "Vía de la Plata" carved into it, there is also the town name of Villanueva de Campeán. We were certainly on the right track, and went left here.
At about 25.5 kilometers the second pillar appeared, below, and you can now see the town ahead. The sky was clearing so that I was able to take this incredible photo. You are only about one kilometer away from Villanueva de Campeán at this point.
As we neared the town, to the right, we could see the ruined 15th century Convento de Santa María del Soto, off to the east, shown in the photo below. There is not much left of the convent to see, so we did not go out of our way. Click on the link here, to go to a video on YouTube, with lovely aerial views of the convent, to make your own decision.
If you decide to see the convent, you would turn right at this intersection, below, where you will find the town sign, on the right, by the wall, and another pillar, on the left. This pillar has Arabic writing, a vestige of the name, Camino Mozárabe, a Spanish word derived from Arabic, meaning a Christian who lived in Spain during the Moorish rule.
Also on the wall, as you enter town is a sign for the casa rural, La Posada del Buen Camino.
Farther along as we got towards the center, a large sign stated in Spanish "Recogida de Llaves," and English "Collection of Keys," and another sign below it telling you that the municipal albergue keys could be collected at the Posada del Buen Camino, right behind the municipal albergue.
In actuality, the Café Bar Vía de la Plata in the center of town, just before the turn for the albergue, had the keys. By the time we arrived, other peregrinos had already obtained them.
But just before the bar, we walked by another albergue, the Albergue Privado Villanueva de Campeán, right along the Camino. Here is the crew, posing in front of the great looking place.
The town is very small and the Bar Vía de la Plata is in the center of it. In fact it is the only bar that we saw. It is here that I turned off my GPS for the day.
Across from the front of the bar is this street, the Calle Señor, that heads to the albergue and the town church. About 50 meters along this street, take the first left (the white sign in the photo below directs you).
A few meters later, the Albergue Municipal de Villanueva de Campeán, is building #4 on your right. Here we are hanging out by the albergue later that afternoon.
This is a basic, clean, 10-bed albergue with a small kitchen with a hot plate, a microwave, no refrigerator and only a few pots. There is no tienda in town so to cook simply here you must have brought in your own food.
The hospitalera will post inside when she will meet you in the bar later to register and pay. We made ourselves at home in the meanwhile.
After settling in, I walked over to the town church, and even though it was closed, I sat on the church steps, and stretched out my legs, giving thanks that they had held me up and didn't give me any more problems than the mild niggle in my left knee, on the Vía de la Plata, all the way from Cañedino to Villanueva de Campeán.
After walking with the group, I relished the bit of solitary time hanging out here at the church. My friend captured me in a photo, below. I had a fascia ball that I carried in my pack and I now used to roll my left knee and all the tendons and muscles around the kneecap. I would have to pay lots of attention to this knee if I would hope to continue onward the entire way to Santiago.
We were lucky this day that a traveling food vendor in his truck blew his horn that afternoon, announcing his arrival into town. We knew of this small town phenomenon across Spain and immediately ran out to see what he had. He was not selling bread, but cheeses and meats, and various other non-perishable items which we purchased for our packs.
We also bought some flan to have immediately to tide us over until dinner! Gotta love the Spanish flan! I have no idea how dependable this vendor service is, but he did park close to the albergue, so I imagine pilgrims fuel his market.
In the evening, all the peregrinos gathered at the Bar Vía de la Plata for the Menú del Día, a full course meal with wine, coffee and dessert. The delightful proprietor, Ramón and his wife Carmen, lined up the pilgrims at 7:30 p.m., a graciously early schedule just for pilgrims, for a choice of three entrees, chicken, pork or fish. Everything was delicious, inexpensive and served with love.
Ramón will also open the bar "early" in the morning for breakfast, at 8:00 a.m. for pilgrims. If this is not early enough, be sure to bring your own breakfast, or maybe buy something from the bar the night before.
Over dinner, we met again a retired, German biology professor from the night before, and several new Spanish faces. We had a most enjoyable communitas meal, laughing and getting to know one another.
I was asked, "Where are you from?" I answered, "The USA," then I chuckled and said, "I am a Gringo," using the Mexican slang term for Americans. Everyone smiled.
I looked across the table at the German professor, sitting directly opposite me in the photo below and I could see his wheels turning. Apparently Mexico is not the only country who knows the term "Gringo," because the professor blurts out, "I see! Then you are not Peregrinos, but Peregringos!"
I burst out laughing, along with all the rest of the pilgrims at the table. From then on we were known by the group as the Peregringos! An absolutely hilarious and genius invention by the German man.
The woman on the left above, at the dinner table is the hospitalera for the albergue. She did not show up until almost 8:30 to register us, collect our money and stamp our credentials!
After an enjoyable day, one without any problems, I reflected on how much I had learned over the years about the Camino and the pilgrim life. I didn't even mind the boredom of this day, however, if it had been horribly hot, I may have felt differently. But it was still early in the walk, even though this was my 7th day, after having completed the Camino Teresiano prior.
I truly believed that in accordance with St. Teresa's words, that I had learned to take things as they came. Indeed this was the essence of life, and I prayed that I would continue to be flexible, walking with a group, as I had never done before. This would be put to the test, as all beliefs eventually are.
I did promise myself that I would walk alone when needed, to keep the spirit of my pilgrimage alive, and not just have it turn into a group event.
I was amused when observing our Camino newbie friends as they did the "backpack shuffle." This is where they were continually looking for items in their packs, taking things in/out and rearranging the items frequently. My friend Nadine laughs about it now, saying that she was sure she was losing her items, but always managed to find them when she unpacked everything! Then she would lose them again when she re-packed. These are classic adjustment maneuvers for the first-time peregrino.
May your own day on the Vía de la Plata from Cañedino to Villanueva de Campeán afford you the courage to take whatever comes. May you place one foot in front of the other, staying present to the journey and your experience of it. This journey is indeed the essence of life! Ultreia!
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