Trujillo greets us with grey skies but the cool mornings have given way to warmer temperatures. A sleepy late start as we have gotten used to sleeping in and the sun doesn’t rise until about 8am. Walk to Plaza Mayor, the tourist info centre where we purchase entry to 4 of the town’s main attractions. Purchase memory for the camera. Coffee, tostada and tortilla. First stop Iglesia de San Martin and although our tickets do not include this church the attendant happily lets us pass. Compared to other churches we have visited, this Iglesia is modest in its decoration. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t share opulence with its more “upmarket” cousins. Dee comments on how much time and money these churches would have absorbed to construct. The local socioeconomic ramifications are not lost on us. The excessive drain on local populations must have impacted severely on local economies.
That aside, San Martin contains a beautiful Romanesque carving of the Virgin la Coronada (1200) and a magnificent Baroque organ. Next stop the Iglesia de Santiago, The house of Ferdinand Pizarro the South American explorer and conqueror and finally a castle with Roman foundations, built on by Moors and finally topped with a Spanish flavour. The parapets afford breathtaking views even on this cloudy, and by now drizzling rainy day. We head for cove in a local modern bar that would not look out of place in a swank area in any major city.
Taking advantage of a break in the weather we head for the car and out of town with the intention of navigating to Guadalupe. The road is straight with mildly undulating topography and we pass through Zorita and on through Logrosan and Canamero where we first encounter caballeros and horses. Continuing through Canamero and heading for Guadalupe we encounter hundreds more people on horseback all seemingly headed for Guadalupe and all in groups distinguishable by coloured jackets and some with banners. It is of course a national holiday and Sunday of a long weekend. Guadalupe is a quaint pueblo filled with Spanish tourists celebrating the holidays. It would have been great to stay and check out the town, however, we quickly shop for wine and dried figs and decide to leave and lunch in the surrounding hills. Lunch out of the back of the car is a welcome break from driving and crowds. The figs are unfortunately old and infested with weavels. Packing the car we consult the map and decide to head to Belalcazar which has some historical significance and a castle icon on the map.
The drive turns out to be a real highlight of our trip as we pass fields of thousands of solar panels at Castuera followed by a a topography of mountains that rise sharply out of the flat plains. Each high vantage point an excuse to build ancient fortifications. Each backyard seems to have it’s own castillo. We aim for Belalcaza via Cabeza del Buey with the sun setting on this amazing vista. Our need for accommodation overcoming our desire to enjoy our surroundings. C del Buey is in the grip of Sunday/ National holiday siesta and does not invite us to stay. We head for Belalcazar but no accommodation to be found. We backtrack to a side road offering rural accommodation. It seems to be long forgotten except by teenagers. With dark upon us we find a hotel on the outskirts of Hinojosa del Duque. The room is expensive but good and with no other choices, a welcome sight. Vodka and tonics prove a hit. Kate rings unexpectedly, early morning Coffs time. It is great talking to the kids and homesickness and talk of an Aussie summer fills our conversation that night.
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