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A bit of a trip around Extremadura

All of the famous Conquistadores, well the two I know the names of, Cortés and Pizarro, came from the region of Extremadura. The conventional wisdom is that it was such a desolate place that they were willing to do anything to get away. Even today it is one of the poorest regions of Spain but because it's the next region to the South of Ciudad Rodrigo and as we'd never been to the provincial Capital at Badajoz and because we had the "Bank Holiday" weekend we thought we should go and have a nosey.

Everyone had warned us about Badajoz but we had taken no heed. It was as boring as they said. Two hours and we'd had enough. We headed for Mérida, the town that makes its living from the Roman remains. We couldn't find a hotel. This weekend of fun and frolic was turning into a mini disaster. We decided that we may as well come back home. By now we'd driven for some 4½ hours and done over 400kms but we were cross enough to just turn around and head home in the middle of the night. Fortunately for us, about 30kms out of Mérida there was a truck stop café cum hotel and we stayed there in a slightly musty room. The next morning we went back to Mérida to see the splendid Roman Museum and then on to Guadalupe.

The little town of Guadalupe was rather nice. Full of tourists and trinket shops but then we were tourists happy to browse amongst the trinkets in the warm sun. Guadalupe is another of those places where a statue of the Virgin was found under miraculous conditions and where a Monastery was built up around the statue. This one was lucky enough to get Royal Patronage though and Our Lady of Guadalupe became a rallying cry for Spanish armies through the centuries. We joined the 4€ tour of the monastery but the Franciscan monk who was set to show us the statue made it very clear that seeing "Our Lady" had nothing whatsoever to do with the guided tour we'd just had and that if we weren't believers then we should push off pronto. He made the crowd recite something, that they all seemed to know, and then they filed past the statue kissing something that the priest held up for them. We were scared. Maggie had a story ready about her Methodist beliefs and I was frantically trying to put together a workable Spanish translation of the Second Commandment. We hung back and saw the statue from two or three metres away and made good our escape with the last of the believers.

Then we had a beer and we drove home. Just a bit over 850kms all together, there and back.


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