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Walking for Amnesty International

  • Day Thirty-Three: A Bandeira to Santiago de Compostela     19 October 2020
    Posted by: Jay Chapman
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    So there you have it... The final 35km to Santiago de Compostela. Which, if I'm perfectly honest, were harder than I wanted them to be. I wanted a meditative stroll, but got a painful slog instead. Kittens made everything a little cheerier (as of course they always do) and seeing the towers of the Cathedral finally coming into view as we entered the city. WOW. What a huge thrill. A big shout-out to Daan for days of encouragement, fun, endless banter and more beers than I'd like to count.

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  • Day Thirty-Two: O Ponte to A Bandeira     18 October 2020
    Posted by: Jay Chapman
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    The Penultimate Day!!! 45.5km of cat cuddles, dog pats, 80's power ballads, woodland, industrial estates, farmland and general good vibes... Tomorrow is Day 33, with 33km left to my journey. Jesus was 33 when they put him on a cross... Am I overthinking things? Very probably. Big, big shout-out to Daan Spits for being an epic companion during an epic journey. Tomorrow we glide on into Santiago de Compostela after 1,000km of blood, sweat and occasional tears....

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  • Day Thirty-One: Orense to A Ponte     17 October 2020
    Posted by: Jay Chapman
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    5 weeks ago today I left Seville with little idea of what to expect on this journey. With only 85km left in my 1,000km trek I'm still not too sure what to make of it... Time is needed to process what it is that I've accomplished. What I do know is that after 31 days of walking, and only 4 days off, my body is well and truly ready for a rest. Daan and I will walk the final 85km in the next 2 days, finishing on Sunday, so as to avoid the week of rain that kicks in on Monday in Santiago.

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  • Day Thirty: Xunquiera de Ambía to Orense     16 October 2020
    Posted by: Jay Chapman
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    Well, we weren't meant to end up in Orense as it's currently considered a Red Zone and in lockdown, but you wouldn't know it from walking through. We made the call to stay after both of our bodies started giving us grief, rather than attempt another 14km to the next viable stop... And gosh we're glad we did. What an hospitable city, and what a joy to eat here.

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  • Day Twenty-Nine: Laza to Xunquiera de Ambía     15 October 2020
    Posted by: Jay Chapman
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    Day 29 was wet, cold, steep, and yet still rather wonderful. I got to warm myself up and dry myself off at the height of my ascent in a wonderful little bar in Albergueria, where I contributed my shell to the many hundreds already hanging from the walls and ceiling. Tomorrow is Ourense... A city in lockdown. Watch this space.

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  • Day Twenty-Eight: A Gudiña to Laza     14 October 2020
    Posted by: Jay Chapman
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    I don't like choosing favourites but I think that Day 28 might be one of the best yet. We climbed and climbed, and climbed some more to 1,130m, with the world stretched out on either side of us. Then we made a wonderful 14km descent through pine forests towards Laza. My wee face was graced with a smile for the better part of the day...

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  • Day Twenty-Seven: Lubiàn to A Gudiña     13 October 2020
    Posted by: Jay Chapman
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    A new milestone reached... We're in Galacia!!! WOOP WOOP. And what a beaut bloody landscape it is. We went from dense woodland full of streams, mushrooms and deep divets left by wild boar to a dry boulder filled landscape. If you were a location scout for a fantasy film you'd do well to check it. We climbed a lot today. And then we climbed some more, but the ice cold #estrellagalicia at the end of it all was well worth it. Remember to check out my Give-a-Little page on my Bio to help me raise money for Amnesty International NZ as I continue my journey...

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  • Day Twenty-Six: Puebla de Sanabria to Lubiàn     12 October 2020
    Posted by: Jay Chapman
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    So, with complete humility, I need to admit that the vicious dogs we were convinced were going to maul us to death were absolutely harmless and just wanted to hang with us... One even followed us another 2km just to make sure we got away safely... Today is one of those days I never want to forget. Deer, cows, dogs, horses, mountains, great company, Pearl Jam and Nirvana, hot chocolate held firmly in cold hands... The list is endless.

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  • Day Twenty-Five: Entrepeñas to Pueblo de Sanabria     11 October 2020
    Posted by: Jay Chapman
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    Today started with a wolf hunt... I was hoping to spot one before it went to bed for the day. But all I found were deer. Lots of them. All too quick for my camera though, alas. Puebla de Sanabria is home for the night. It's a pretty little mountain village that shows off tomorrow's mountainous climb in the distance. I think I might have preferred to go without the visual cue...

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  • Day Twenty-Four: Villar de Falfarón to Entrepeñas     10 October 2020
    Posted by: Jay Chapman
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    Day 24 involved a myriad of small joys, incredible vistas, wonderful tokens of generosity and the company of lively spirits... It was 30km of tiny little WOW moments that accumulated into a tangible high. And to top it all off I met the local medicine woman who concocts salves for every ill imaginable. My ill is 'Dolor' (pain), which I have a considerable amount of, so I'll be sure to let you know how that works out for me...

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  • Day Twenty-Three: Camazana de Tera to Villar de Falfarón     9 October 2020
    Posted by: Jay Chapman
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    Day 23 was a pretty chill affair with rivers, a dam, foraged berries, a couple of 99% Invisible podcasts and the threat of wolves here in a village with a population of 3. I mean, it's a pretty cool way to be remembered... "Yeah, wasn't he the guy that got savaged by wolves in Spain? I liked him." That works for me. There are mountains and local lockdowns ahead... The ante is upped

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  • Day Twenty-Two: Tàbara to Camazana de Tera     8 October 2020
    Posted by: Jay Chapman
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    It's all kicking off here in Spain with new local lockdowns and restrictions etc... Some of them directly affecting our route along the Camino Sanabres in the upcoming week 😬. Plan B is to sneak across the border into Portugal under cover of darkness and go surfing. Life could be worse... In the meantime I feel blissfully detached from the real world and am enjoying shades of green once more, rolling hills, temperatures in the mid-20's and the fine company of my new Dutch companion.

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  • Day Twenty-One: Fontanillas de Castro to Tabàra     7 October 2020
    Posted by: Jay Chapman
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    Today saw my departure from the Via de la Plata and my arrival onto the Sanabres Way, which will get me to Santiago de Compostela in about 15 days time. It was 34km of good times with @daanspits as my walking companion. It was a first to share my day walking with a fellow peregrino, And it certainly made the journey go faster, even if we did both miss a marker and add extra kilometers to the route. Oops...

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  • Day Twenty: Zamora to Fontanillas      6 October 2020
    Posted by: Jay Chapman
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    So, Day 20 was a late start so that I could explore Zamora a little. Then 33km worth of meandering farm tracks until I found an old castle complex, #Castrotorafe. I mean, I didn't discover it myself. I'm pretty sure people knew it was there already. It's a huge ruin, built in the 11th century, just sitting in the middle of farmland without much fanfare at all... Crazy how it was once an important center of defence, trade and commerce and now it's surrounded by wheat fields. Everything is fleeting I guess...

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  • Day Twenty: El Cubo Tierra de Vino     5 October 2020
    Posted by: Jay Chapman
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    Day 20 was 35km of wild wet and windy weather, with most of the wind being head-on... I missed a marker also, so added an unnecessary 2km into the mix, which helped to challenge my mood. Still, I made it to Zamora in one piece and with spirits still high.

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  • Day Nineteen: Salamanca to El Cubo Tierra de Vino     5 October 2020
    Posted by: Jay Chapman
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    A long, featureless 36km today. Wild and windy, with nothing but musical numbers to entertain me on my headphones... At least the wine at my destination was on point, as you'd expect from a destination called the Wine Cube!

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  • Day Eighteen: San Pedro de Rozados to Salamanca     1 October 2020
    Posted by: Jay Chapman
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    Day 18... Deep breath, and rest. Another dry, featureless day today, with Salamanca appearing on the horizon nearly 3 hours before I arrived. How cheeky of it to be so tangible in the distance. If anything it speaks volumes about the scale of the cathedral's here. They're enormous. After 10 straight days of walking I'm giving myself a wee break to explore the city. It really is beautiful upon first inspection. I'm sure you'll see more in the coming days...

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  • Day Seventeen: Fuenterroble de Salvatierra to San Pedro de Rozados     30 September 2020
    Posted by: Jay Chapman
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    So how about that! 500km, done and dusted. Just another 500 to go before I arrive in Santiago de Compostela. It was an early (and chilly) start today, and it involved climbing. So much climbing. But the views were worth it. My companions were the feathered variety today and I was joined by a dozen or so hawks circling overhead. Huge things. The home stretch to San Pedro de Rozados was the most monotonous yet though - one endless road that never seemed to end... Just 24km to Salamanca and two days of rest... 😃

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  • Day Sixteen: Calzada de Béjar to Fuenterroble de Salvatierra     29 September 2020
    Posted by: Jay Chapman
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    Today was a doddle. Only 20km. Lovely level farm tracks. Sunshine. Happiness. Oh, and my very own Norwegian styled stone cabin to sleep in, with a turf roof no less. The serenity of it all is completed with attentive feline companions. What a wonderful opportunity to just chill the f#@k out.

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  • Day Fourteen: Carcabosa to Aldeanueva del Camino     27 September 2020
    Posted by: Jay Chapman
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    Today I passed under the arches of Càparra, the symbol of the Via de la Plata. It was a very special moment. Càparra was a Roman city, founded in the 1st century CE and abandoned in the 9th. I ate lunch beside the amphitheatre. Totes special. Also made friends with donkeys, walked 40km without incident and rocked out with The Muppets. Highly recommended.

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  • Day Thirteen: Grimaldo to Carcabosa     26 September 2020
    Posted by: Jay Chapman
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    My Friday involved multiple biscuit breaks (because I deserve it) a crazy walled village (Galisteo) and a strange hybrid landscape that's starting to resemble equal parts Australia and New Zealand. The mornings are starting to get a mean chill to them also, and there are a whole heap of mountains up ahead of me... It's beginning to feel a little "Fellowship of the Rings" if you ask me...

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  • Day Twelve: Embalse de Alcàntara - Grimaldo     25 September 2020
    Posted by: Jay Chapman
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    Sunshine. When it's out it does such wonderful things to my head. I didn't see it until after my siesta this afternoon though. Until then Day Twelve was a grey old day, but a pain-free walk, which was refreshing. And the scenery is shifting up a gear also, which keeps things interesting. I can see mountains in my future (and inevitable cramps in my calves)...

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  • Day Eleven: Cáceres to Embalse de Alcàntara      24 September 2020
    Posted by: Jay Chapman
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    Who wants to join in the "To pop, or not to pop' blister debate? I'm unashamedly a popper. What a thrill. So you can see how much fun I'm having just now with so many points of joy to prick each day. Also, if you're a GOT fan, well I just walked through the landscape were the 'Loot Train' scene was filmed. You know the one; Daenerys barbeques all those poor Lannisters and Jamie falls into an inexplicably deep river... Anyway, it was a good day.

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  • Day Ten: Alcuéscar to Cacéres      23 September 2020
    Posted by: Jay Chapman
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    Another dry, mostly featureless one today, although I made the acquaintance of a few cows and sheep. They weren't big talkers though. Crossed a couple of old Roman bridges also and walked across a spooky old aerodrome just waiting for an off-record narcotics delivery to land. 40km later and my 43 year old joints are reminding me that they're fallible. Damn them.

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  • Day Nine: Mérida to Alcuéscar     22 September 2020
    Posted by: Jay Chapman
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    Back on the road for a 39km day, but with fresh feet and renewed Joie de Vivre keeping my strides coming, one after the other. Also, my day started with a Roman aquaduct, so I felt pretty spoilt. More oaks, olive and cork trees, but fewer furry friends today. And STILL no fellow pilgrims. It's starting to get a little lonesome, but the landscape provides constantly inspired company. And the light. Oh my, the light out here is golden.

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  • Day Eight: Villafranca de los Barros - Mérida     21 September 2020
    Posted by: Jay Chapman
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    8 days. 231km. 96 Band-Aids. 1 very minor nervous breakdown and an epic thunderstorm this afternoon to dampen every inch of me except my spirit. What an epic day. It began with a head-torch that refused to light the way, so I embraced the stars above and the wild lightning storm on the horizon to guide me. The morning was lush, and then another storm caught me up, turning the ground to slush and making my 43km day just that bit more of an adventure... But therein lies the fun of it all.

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  • Day Seven: Zafra - Villafranca de los Barros     18 September 2020
    Posted by: Jay Chapman
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    Day Seven brought me to wine country... Delicious stuff too. I may have had one or two glasses before this afternoon's siesta. There were some wonderfully doom laden clouds on the horizon too, which added a bit of spice to the day, but nothing came of it.

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  • Day Six: Fuente de Cantos - Zafra     18 September 2020
    Posted by: Jay Chapman
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    Day Six was a subdued little 26km / 30 degree affair, with a lot more of nothing to distract me as I went. So instead I let Pink Floyd do their thing through my headphones. Zafra was a joy to arrive in, and a sweet relief also. My poor hips were starting to act their age at that point...

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  • Day Five: Monesterio to Fuente de Cantos     16 September 2020
    Posted by: Jay Chapman
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    Extremadura has always fired a tiny flame of excitement in my brain. I think it's the suggestive nature of the name. So when I crested a hill this morning and saw it laid out before me (exactly how a climactic landscape is revealed in a movie) I was not disappointed. What a beautifully barren space. I got chills, and then I got tears. It really was a joy to walk through such a parched, dusty, lifeless landscape. Different strokes for different folks I guess...

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  • Day Four: Alamadén de la Plata to Monesterio via Real de la Jara     15 September 2020
    Posted by: Jay Chapman
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    I arrived in El Real de la Jara after an awesome morning chatting to farm animals and singing Beatles songs to myself. And I thought to myself, "That was pleasant. Why not carry on an extra 20km to Monesterio and extend the fun...?" Rookie mistake. 37.5km later, with the last 9km predominantly uphill and I'm a sorry bunny tonight. Lesson learnt. All the pics are from when I was Zenned-out this morning, because you don't want to see me at my worst. It's ugly

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  • Day Three: Castilblanco de los Arroyos - Almadén de la Plata     14 September 2020
    Posted by: Jay Chapman
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    So, Day Three was a serene affair. I discovered cork, which is a pretty cool material when you think of it. I also discovered the joy of occasionally stopping and taking it all in... I need more practice at that though. All up, a breezy 29km and a mean climb at the end, but a beautiful village to call home for the night nonetheless.

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  • Day Two: Guillena - Castilblanco de los Arroyos     14 September 2020
    Posted by: Jay Chapman
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    A little more colour slipped into the landscape today as I walked 18km from Guillena to Castilblanco de los Arroyos. The distance wasn't today's challenge, but the rough terrain and 37 degree heat managed to test my resilience. Oh, and about half a dozen new blisters also... I'm still the only pilgrim I've seen though. It might start to get lonely soon.

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  • Day One     11 September 2020
    Posted by: Jay Chapman
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    I won't lie, I'm a little nervous. It's an exceptional time to be in Spain, and only 20% of the albergues (pilgrim hostels) along the Via de la Plata are currently open at this time.... So, if you see pics of me bedding down in a pig-pen you'll know why.

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