Thu, 01 Oct 1998
Thursday: Cáceres to Trujillo // at 00:00
I think I've recovered from yesterday... and mostly from Tuesday, although I have a huge bruise on my bum, together with a sore neck, thigh and right shoulder! 9AM and time to get organised and on my way.
I said goodbye to the girls this morning, they'ld been looking at houses for somewhere to live for the next few months, slept through their first appointment but made it to the next few. They were hoping to have a better day today too — yesterday their car got towed away when they left it in the plaza while they were lying in bed with their hangovers.
A little luck and the assistance of my guardian angel and I managed to find a bike shop — a window display in a clothing store had some bike components as props, a small card stated that these were “supplied by ...,” so off I went following the map. The shop was closed for October, but the owner happened to be there as he was moving to new premises. I pointed and smiled and tried to work out how to explain “buckled wheel” in Spanish, he laughed and understood, and for 800p I had a new spoke and restored wheel.
I headed out of town at a very leisurely pace, determined to drink a lot of water, not to stress myself, and to pay a little more attention to the road surface... In two and a half hours I had reached Trujillo.
The first 20km or so were flat, just empty rolling grassy plains, no trees, nothing except wheat or whatever grain they are. Later on there were olive trees, then pigs and sheep, cattle, even a few donkeys. Circling overhead I saw numerous large hawks or buzzards, I think there's a national park nearby and that they're a protected species, but I can't remember what they're called...
I came over a hill about half an hour out of Trujillo and the town was just sitting there in front of me. High on a hill with the road leading straight up to it, stone walls and ruins and farms all around, it looked to me like something out of mythology.
Spent the afternoon sitting in the Plaza Mayor with a coffee — I think they gave me a double — sitting in the sun and writing. I should probably post a few postcards, but they're back in my bag in the Casa Roque. The pension I'm staying in is the Casa Roque, the Tourismo was closed, but the old man that runs the place was lurking outside and pounced on me when I arrived, not quite, but that's the general idea... I think cars need to banned from a few more of the plazas in the towns, make them even more enjoyable to sit in and pass the time.
I keep getting overwhelmed at the thought of trying to speak Spanish and ask any non-trivial question or conversation, and don't even try — so far I've managed to ask for beer, wine and coffee, but that's about it! It's amazing how far you can get in the world just being dumb and picking things up in the supermarkets...
I've been exploring the ruins of the castle, and the Francisco Pizarro museum. The views from the castle walls were phenomenal, there are no other hills for 20 to 30km across the plains, and there was nobody up there but me and the rooks — at least for a while. A slight amendment; just me and the rooks and the usual piles of litter everywhere. Very peaceful and majestic.
I arrived back at the pension from my rambles and had the shock of my life. No longer was there one touring bike sitting in the courtyard — there were seven! A group of four Americans are following pretty much the same route as I, and there's another couple here who's paths have crossed ours.
Diane, Peter, Susan and Michael — I think — invited me to join them for dinner and so the five of us went and had an excellent meal in the Plaza. It was Susan's birthday and they had bought her a cake. We all sang happy birthday, and then sat around and talked long into the night. The four of them are lawyers, all the same age — 31, and all here for a two and a half week trip from the US.