Happy Easter from Cáceres

Belated Easter greetings from me and Eliza, one of my girls.

The other two birds, Mildred and Amy, took the day off, so just one egg to show you. The three girls are not Rhode Island Reds but Blue Buffingtons – a gift from my friend and Fellow Camino Walker Nancy Weidinger.

Here in Rhode Island, we have finally had a couple of days of sunshine so I have been outside weed whacking. Today the rain has returned and it’s back to the tour.

Here in Cáceres it is Easter Day. It will be a busy one.

Yesterday on the way to Cáceres you might have passed through the Jerte Valley. If the weather had cooperated, you would have seen some of the million plus cherry trees in the groves beneath Cáceres.

For you, by bus, it was an easy “climb”up the steep hill to this charming city.

You spent the night in the Parador, a 14th century palace built for a wealthy Knight of Santiago, whose coat of arms is still visible on the walls.

If you were lucky, your dinner may have finished with the famed cherry liquor. Perhaps you tried some of the cherry marmalade this morning at breakfast. You may have sampled the Torta del Casar, a delicious runny cheese made from the milk of merino sheep.

You may have had migas for your first course at dinner. Barbara and I tried this local specialty. Ours seemed to have been missing the paprika, garlic, chorizo and bacon and instead tasted like what it was- a pile of fried stale bread. Unlike you, however, we did not dine at the parador.

Our cheese and marmalade were delicious. We missed the cherry liquor and we did not try or even see on the menu, the fried green lizard, another speciality. Non gracias!!

Driving in you would have missed paying a visit to the Maltaviesco Cave, where Cáceres’ earliest inhabitants lived and left their mark 64,000 years ago. Discovered in 1951, the cave has a variety of paintings but it is most famous for the red stenciled hand prints on the walls.

The Romans arrived late (35BCE), moved up onto the hill and surrounded their city with a wall, parts of which are still standing.

The Jews, the Christians, the Visigoths, and then the Moors (Muslims) followed the Romans, each group leaving its mark.

More than thirty Islamic Towers are still standing. There is still a Jewish quarter. Fine old manor houses testify to the great wealth of this city. Like Seville, much of the city’s wealth came from new world explorations.

The storks came too and stayed , arriving each spring to build their nests on the towers. Even the Game of Thrones has arrived in Caceres and now we are here.

From the Roman double eagle and walls, to the Moorish/Muslim-Islamic cistern and towers, to the many churches and the numerous storks nests , there is something to see down every narrow twisting cobblestoned street.

Today, Easter Day, there are plenty of churches in which to worship, but most Spaniards will not be in the pews. They will all be outside.

Today is Domingo de Resurrección – the Sunday of the Resurrection, our Easter Sunday. Services within the churches will be simple compared to our Anglican traditions. Outside the last procession of Semana Santa will take place, a procession of joy and celebration.

This procession, called the Procesión de Encuentro, refers to the meeting between Christ and his Mother.

Our risen Lord wears his grave clothes and a crown, not of thorns but of victory. His Mother has taken off her mourning clothes and is resplendent in white and gold. Somber black mantillas have been replaced by white ones.

In two separate processions Jesus and Mary will be borne through the streets. When they meet in the plaza there will be music, clapping and cheering. Doves and white balloons will be sent aloft. It will be a dramatic, triumphant ending to our Semana Santa and to our time in Cáceres.

For us, the time has come to board the bus and head north to the university city of Salamanca.

Since it is about 150 miles, we will take a break midway. It will be your turn to walk. What better place to walk than along a Roman road, towards to the abandoned city of Cápara? Lace up your boots.

Hasta mañana y Buen Camino.

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