We set off for Cheste as early as possible knowing we had 24 kms and a hot day ahead. Leaving Valencia had us walking through some ugly industrial areas but eventually we hit the orange groves. The trees were laden with green oranges but the path was very exposed and soon we were all feeling the heat. At one stage as we negotiated an orange grove we were grateful for the heat because if it was wet as some of the reading had indicated, we would have been ankle deep in clay.
As time wore on the day got hotter Karen started to feel faint and we were all wet through with perspiration. At one stage the only shade was outside a pig farm. We all sank gratefully to the ground with the smell a small sacrifice for the respite. One of the workers came out with a barrow of pig parts-a bit gruesome. He was cheerful and told us he was a vet from Bulgaria who had been in Spain for 20 years. Bulgaria was too corrupt and Spain was better. We eventually rose to continue up the hill but it was apparent Karen was in a bad way and eventually we all decided she needed to get a lift. Where was Uber when you need it?! Anyway a very kind young man saw her and graciously took her into town. The rest of us powered on. Peter is raising money for his charity and feels compelled to walk all the way. We proceeded into the river bed and had to cross two fast but shallow fords. I got tangled in a spiky acacia called ‘wait awhile’ in Africa because it sticks into your clothes and skin. It had strong 3 inch long needles that poked my arm and leg and drew blood. Needless to say the bleeding stopped very quickly in the heat. The water looked so inviting and on the second crossing I nearly fell in. Thanks to all my Bailar dancing I was able to keep my footing and avoid the crash but I was almost disappointed.
On we trudged and it became harder and harder. Peter was getting slower and both Andy and I hotter. Those last two kms were a killer. After a long shower we decided an early dinner was in order. Little open for dinner because it is so early (6.30 pm) and the Spanish don’t eat till 9. We stumbled on a kebab place. The owner was not too impressed with us until Andy started to talk cricket. The owner was a fellow from Pakistan. We were happy to wait for food but needed drinks. We downed two litres of lemon Fanta and water very quickly and followed up with more. The food was generous in size and soon all I wanted was bed! We all slept like the dead.
Next morning was an even earlier start to try to beat the heat. A 16 km day so we hoped to get to Bunol by 12.00 pm at the latest. Breakfast was after 5 kms at Chives. It was pleasant walking through orange groves, vineyards, fields of pumpkin ( squash) olive trees. The roadside was abundant with wild grapes. They looked like blueberries but had quite a big seed. The cultivated grapes were much juicier and delicious. There were even fig trees that I raised for a ripe fig. Yum.
We saw the sun rise and eventually arrived in Bunol just as the temperature reached 30C and Karen started to fade again. We are staying at a lovely Inn- Posada Vente Pilar. We have discovered that we have missed the famous Tomato throwing festival! Damn! It would have been fun. Our inn is a traditional and friendly place. They offered a delicious three course lunch which was not so great for the vegetarians. We all had the Hervido (boiled vegetables) pretty bland but nourishing. I followed with stewed rabbit which was delicious and then the choice of dessert ( crème caramel or cheesecake) followed by coffee or tea. Karen ended up with tea and warm milk. The Spanish don’t always understand tea with milk!
After a shower, washing duties and attending to emails we set off to see the town. Bunol was on the frontier of the province of Valencia and Castlle so it has one of the last remaining castles. It has been built on the edge of a ravine and the old town is below. We were charmed by the quaint fountains that are still used. In one of the square there were photos of locals in traditional outfits from the festival. Having walked some of our Camino route today we took a very hilly shortcut back to the Posada. At least it will be down hill in the morning. Bunol is a place of rivers and waterfalls and great natural beauty. Hopefully we will walk through forests tomorrow. And get some shade!