The first was the olive trees. It is incredible, I thought there was a lot yesterday, but that was just a scattering compared to today. I am in the land where the olive tree is king (or should it be queen); where it's olive tree mono-culture; and where it's floor to ceiling, wall to wall, olive trees.
Just today, walking 20 kilometres, I think I have walked through 400 square kilometres of olive trees, millions of individual trees. I have no idea how they get the olives from the trees but surely it can't be a net on the ground and a good shake, would take forever.
The first picture has Villanueva de Tapia in a sea of olive trees, after that it's just sea.
Although there are a lot interesting unknowns, to me a least, about olive production processes it does not make for exciting walking, particularly when the clouds remain low and longer views are just not there. Both thinking about olive tree harvesting techniques and the monotony of the olive trees must have had an impact on my pace.
The second explanation is the mud - it is bad and incredibility sticky. Not really sure why, it's not that wet, you don't sink in it, it just sticks. It even sticks to my metal walking poles. After a few steps using the poles, each has an accumulation of mud at the end the size of a small hand grenade which, with a flick of the wrist, you can send flying into the middle distance. Both the mud and the flicking is slowing me down.
The third was my choice of music, D so it must be Dido. Bad move, olive trees, mud and Dido, it's amazing I got here at all.
Apart from being a bit monotonous it wasn't a bad walk, nice if muddy tracks, and the rain basically held of until the end. It took me 6 hours when the Cicerone Guide says 4 hours 30 minutes, so I have slowed down.
When I did get here it started to rain hard. I had decided to stay at the Hotel Algaidas which the Guide says is on the way out of town heading north. Having got the northern edge of town, not found it, I went into a bar full of noisy Spanish men playing dominos. Seeing me in my wet weather gear, and dripping, sent a hush through the room. Once they had recovered they insisted on getting the owner from upstairs to give me instructions because it seems domino players can't point. Well the owner could and he pointed back to other end of town. It's at the south not the north end.
Actually I have noticed a slight tendency for people to stare at me when I'm all togged out. Not sure if it's the gear or just the novelty of seeing someone walking this time of year and in this weather. Come to think of it I haven't seen another walker for a week. When Christine arrives tomorrow she is going to double the numbers.