Yesterday was the last hike I’ll do with Llega Como Puedas before returning to the USA. And what an excursion it was! I can’t recall a wetter, muddier, yuckier day. Sorry, there are no photos this time; it never stopped raining long enough for me to pull the camera out. It was a shame to finish the hiking season on such a sour note.
It’s been raining a lot during the last week, but they’ve generally been brief rainfalls with sun in between. The forecast was for more rain today, but I can deal with a brief rainfall. I made sure to pack my poncho and an umbrella and my polainas. I saw that other people had done some clever things with plastic bags, but I really think that if you have to go that far to keep your feet dry, maybe it’s better to just stay at home.
The bus left at 8:00 from our normal meeting point. There were a few drops of rain as I walked to the stop, the proverbial Cordoban “cuatro gotas” (four drops). It continued to rain as we drove into the sierra, through Peñarroya, and on into Fuente Obejuna. This pueblo is famous as the site of the play Fuenteovejuna by the famous Spanish playwright Lope de Vega, a contemporary of Shakespeare. It was based on events during the reign of the Reyes Católicos, Ferdinand and Isabella, in 1476. The villagers of Fuenteovejuna (as it was called then) rose against the tyrannical Commander Guzmán and killed him. To avoid having the penalty fall on any one villager, the people would only confess to the royal inquisitors, “Fuenteovejuna did it.” They were all eventually pardoned by King Ferdinand. I’m told that the people of the pueblo put on a performance of the play every year.
It was still raining when we stopped for breakfast, and also when we went on to the starting point of the hike. We had seen the sun break through briefly along the way, so we were hopeful that it might clear up. It didn’t. I put on my poncho that I’d bought in Switzerland, the one with the cool white cross. For the first part of the hike, my feet stayed relatively dry. We got to the first stream, which was pretty high because of all the rain. We found a place to cross, and everyone made it across without getting their feet wet. All, that is, except for two that fell into the water, which was a good three feet deep at that point. We continued on to the Guadiato River, which was too deep to cross. My feet were getting fairly wet by this time. We struck out across the riverside meadows, which were filled with puddles concealed by the grass. By the time we got to the highway, my feet were squishing in my shoes.
I had thought that the bus was going to pick us up at the highway, but Paco the rutero said, “It’s only five or six more kilometers (3 to 3½ miles), and we’re past the worst part.” And it’s true that the remainder of the walk was along dirt roads. However, with the continuing rain, the roads were waterways. Some of the muddy areas were pretty slippery. I was being careful, because I wasn’t particularly interested in taking a fall and breaking another wrist. On the other hand, having your feet soaking wet gives you a certain freedom; I didn’t have to worry much about stepping in the water. I had snagged my poncho a few times, and the wind was beginning to shred it into tatters. By the time we got to the aldea (a village smaller than a pueblo) of La Coronada, I just wadded it up and threw it into a recycling bin.
The original plan had been to eat lunch in La Coronada and continue on for a couple more hours. With the water conditions, however, even the indefatigable Paco realized that it was time to call in the bus. I enjoyed a glass of fino (Córdoba’s signature white wine) and a shot of anise with lunch; that warmed me up nicely. You just don’t expect this sort of weather in Andalucía. A month ago, people were telling me that it was the wettest rainy season Andalucía had seen in forty years. By now, they’re saying it’s the wettest in sixty years. It’s a shame, because the landscape was really pretty, although it was a bit difficult to enjoy it under the circumstances. What a way to finish the hiking season!