Via de la Plata


When I left the village Castillblanco de los Arroyos at 5:30 am, it was pitch dark. I had to leave so early because my next destination was more than 10 solid walking hours away.




By stepping out into the night, a sweet smell like rose, jasmin or oranges filled the air. I could not figure out which plant emitted this wonderful fragrance. It was the start of a magical walk through the dark, mysterious night. Roosters announced the day in the distance, dogs communicated with each other far away, glowing eyes stared out of darkness from a curious cow, a flock of birds lifted off from the night’s rest and a wild animal rushed through dense vegetation beside the road. It did not bother me to walk on the asphalt street with hardly any traffic on it. However, with the daylight approaching around 8:30 am, it started to rain and the first part of my day’s trek was becoming more difficult.


16 km long walk on asphalt street




It was an incredible relief to reach the entrance to the nature preserve “Monte Publico Navas-Berrocal” a hilly landscape and home to cork oaks, pine trees and little creeks. It stopped raining and I had lunch in a rocky area beside a little creek,




Still a bit wet from the rain




Typical lunch I carried with me






Floating in the sky

above the ancient oak trees

a group of six birds




Treated oak trees after the bark was harvested. I always felt uncomfortable to see the protective skin taken away from the tree.




Looking back where I came from – an endless area of cork oaks and meadows without any houses.





After 60,000 steps walking this day,  I arrived dead tired in Almaden de la Plata, a village known already by the Greeks and Romans for its blue marble. I had booked a bed in the charming house  “Casa Del Reloj”  and enjoyed being the only pilgrim.




My room with a view to the main plaza of the village




Church built in the 16th century


The next day I could relax a bit – the distance to the next village was only about 16 km. I  walked through a hilly area with gorgeous vegetation – pastures with oak trees, bushes of thyme and anis and little ponds where the Iberian pigs were able to take a bath. I also met the two pilgrims I had seen before – the French cook Yannik and the Italian cook Lorenzo.




On my pilgrimage, I saw many black Iberian pigs running around freely in search of acorns. They are treated in a way animal should be treated – with respect. These in the photo above have their own pond where they could swim.




Whenever I went along a pasture of pigs, they came to the fence to figure me out. Very often, they accompanied me and were running beside the fence as long as possible




Lorenzo and Yannik, the first pilgrims I met. Yannik, a passionate meat eater and chain smoker, made fun of me when I admired the pigs in their natural beauty. He, as a cook, only saw in them a provider for food. However, he suggested harvesting the wild thyme, which I did. I used it to make thyme tea on my trek.





On the lonely street

bushes of blue-green

speak of yellow spring


The goal for the day was the village El Real de la Jara. It is on the border of the region Asturia and the vast area Extremadura. Extremadura is as large as Switzerland and very thinly populated. It consists of many natural areas and nature parks, where black storks and large colonies of vultures floating in the sky still can be seen. Entering Extremadura means for pilgrims many long stretches of walks with few possibility to stay overnight.



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Born and raised in a village along the Danube in Austria, Traude Wild soon ventured out into the world. After a two-year program for tourism in Klesheim/Salzburg, she spent nearly a year in South Africa and Namibia. By returning back to Austria, she acquired a Master of Economics at the University of Vienna. After moving to the United States with her four children, she studied Art History at Arizona State University and stayed in the United States for fourteen years. Here, she was teaching Art History in several Universities like Webster University and University of Missouri-St. Louis. Now, she lives partially in Arizona and Vienna and works together with her husband for the University of South-Carolina, Moore School of business as Adjunct Professor organising and leading Study tours in Central Europe. She also teaches at the Sigmund Freud University in Vienna. Since 1999, she is practicing Zen meditation in the lineage of Katagiri Roshi. She loves to hike and to write and is a student of Natalie Goldberg. During her often many weeks long hikes she brings her awareness into the Here and Now, describing her experiences in an authentic way. She loves to walk pilgrimages. The longest hike so far was the 1,400 km long 88 Temple pilgrimage in Shikoku, Japan in 2016.

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