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Editor'S Choice - 2020

Trip to the Alcarria

A tribute to the novel that Camilo José Cela published 70 years ago. We turn this nostalgic and autumnal road trip to La Alcarria into a story.

Trip to the Alcarria, a tribute to the work of Camilo José Cela © Jerónimo Álvarez

Travelers leave Madrid Late on a Sunday, one of the last days of September. The appointment to pick up the rental motorhome (in Yescapa) is in a neighborhood of the capital where the afternoon light seems more mortecina. Miguel, the owner of the camper van to take them, is waiting for them in a narrow alley.

La Alcarria-wrote Camilo José Cela back in 1946- It's a beautiful country that people don't want to go to ”.

But these travelers do feel like it, perhaps to prove that even that empty Spain is not an abyss, and to celebrate that 70 years ago it was published so relevant work. The taxi driver does not hit the street that is not cut by works and that will allow them to reach the garage where Miguel and his family are waiting.

In the meantime, the neighborhood groceries illuminated with neons, zagales grouped around a mobile screen, sneak out the window. Finally they finish reaching their destination in strides.

Miguel is a man between 30 and 40 years old, smiling and willing, accompanied by his young partner, who carries his baby in his arms.

It teaches them the basic operation of the ins and outs of the caravan: the lights come on here; here, the kitchen; a shower is taken from this back to clean itself; This is how the backrests are turned to become a bed.

While getting acquainted with the simple luxuries that will accompany you, the baby throws a bite of breast milk on the passenger seat. Already en route, the traveller he explains to traveler that those hangars and industrial buildings that they see as they pass are part of their vital landscape since their first university period.

- This is the road to go home. I do not know how many times I will have gone through these service areas to go to Zaragoza, I never realized that after all this, so prosaic, was La Alcarria.

A tribute to the usual Spain © Jerónimo Álvarez

Travelers are not asked like Cela, two by three: Are you going to Zaragoza? Nor when they enter the Finca Santa Clara, next to Tajuña, with his white motorhome.

Before following the steps of the famous writer in these places, the traveler insists: “Without a doubt, the Nobel would have stopped here" They did not expect to find this region so green and they are surprised by the lushness of this community where they reside from 1979 Krishna consciousness association (New Vrajamandala).

Travelers are barefoot, as requested by a sign at the entrance, and entered at a magnificent mansion. The general state is somewhat neglected, but transmits a own warmth of high school. In the prayer area there is an altar, some icons and a great silence.

They wait a while but nobody comes to meet him. Outside they encounter a Brazilian with a peaceful smile that shows them the stable where they care for the cows. A veal greets the traveler so effusively that vegetarianism is raised. They are leaving when a man in his 60s with a mountaineer's backpack asks if they are going to Brihuega. They approach him to the town and leave him at the medical center, where he has an appointment.

- Twenty years ago since I am a devotee of Krishna. I was thinking of walking, but Krishna put you on the road.

Lucio Arianes © Jerónimo Álvarez


When they reach the walled Brihuegawhere the king lived Alfonso VI of Castile, they feel that the writer's words come alive before them. You get an idea of ​​things and when it appears close enough to your eyes, you find a sad satisfaction.

The Garden of La Alcarria boasts fields of purple lavender and of a yard, in this literal case, that Cela I call melancholic: that of the Royal Cloth Factory, built by Philip V and finished by Carlos III in 1750.

What is predictably melancholic is the cemetery, from unusual beauty. They access it through the castle of the eleventh century, enjoying views not inconsiderable. They have never visited such a unique cemetery before. The floor is all paved and uneven, it is impossible to move between the graves without stepping on them.

It would be said that they have found an area dedicated to infants, some belonging to children who died in the 1930s. One of them says: Dad and mom will love you very much forever. The sadness of that family transcends the decades and invades the travelers, who go down pensively to the Manu Leguineche square.

Brihuega Cemetery © Jerónimo Álvarez

The church of Saint Mary of the Rock Apparently, he doesn't receive all the credit he deserves as architectural and artistic jewel of the thirteenth century. Near Professor Max's Miniatures Museum, another picturesque tourist attraction, travelers find a gentleman sitting on a bench, with his grandson of a year and a half.

They are fresh, enjoying a Monday morning without obligations. The boy throws kisses with his hand. The traveler He asks his name and then regrets it. The children of a year and a half rarely say their name well, and even weirder want to tell a stranger.

Then they look for a store to buy something typical and end up in the Steakhouse bar The Tolmo, a reputed place of piglet and kid.

They do not leave this town of La Alcarria alta without a local escort accompanying them to the Laundry and the Fountain of the Twelve Pipes, from which, according to the order in which you drink or from which pipe - they are not entirely clear -, it depends on whether or not you find a husband.

After a walk through the Romanesque of the parish church of Gargoles of Abjo and a look at Cifuentes, they park in Trillo, where landscape it's even more fertile. Travelers, who travel faster and with less calm than Cela, eat in a restaurant that they have recommended next to the Cifuentes River Waterfall.

There they regain strength and refresh themselves, although their desires for traditional stews are somewhat disappointed. The store, modern style, with large windows and a terrace, it has been infected current taste for unjustifiably elaborated presentations.

On the waterfalls, on Calaveras street, they meet the flirtatious parish church, which has the door open. They take a while inside, enjoying a deafening silence and a dark remedy with coins -There is one of those devices to illuminate the altarpieces-, more by game than curiosity.

With a full belly, travelers become sentimental. They notice and cut for the healthy. Wandering the steep streetsThey know a man who warns them of something they see for themselves: that they cannot go to the beautiful part of town because there has been a breakdown in pipes and some operators have cut the street.

- What annoyance, what annoyance.

And he tells them about the leprosarium from Trillo, the last one in Spain, which apparently initially frightened the inhabitants, and then saw "That nothing happened".

Trillo © Jerónimo Álvarez

- But that you can not pass ... These morons, what a great dislike!

- Don't worry, man, we already have an idea of ​​how beautiful this is.

They arrive later at Viana de Mondéjar, a yellow town lying on a blunt mount. As the primal traveler, do not enter, stay at the doors. In 2018 the days are shorter, much more than in 1946, and the routes are made under less rational criteria, so they decide to retrace the gait to spend a day in Torija.


From this municipality of Guadalajara, in whose castle he took refuge The stubborn During the War of Independence, they are very pleasantly surprised by the Museum of the Journey to the Alcarria. It is not a day of opening to the public, so one of the managers has been a former teacher and has had to wear the uniform to receive them. He does not completely disguise his discontent, which he finds touching.

Go on to explain with love about the space and its content: the photographs of the traveling Cela in La Alcarria, which are accessed by a peculiar spiral staircase, captivate them. Then Mario, the boss of Torija Presidency Cabinet. He is a gentleman with clear eyes and an athletic attitude, who tells them about the museum's project with Google, which will create a platform with high resolution images, videos and virtual tours.

Mario teaches them other initiatives of the people (which, suddenly, they seem very far from Madrid), as once they installed a giant pink ribbon against cancer on the Tits of Viana, a recurring landscape from several points along the way.

Then they pass by the nearby restaurant and hotel El Salero, built in the hostel where the Nobel stayed during his famous trip, and contemplate the balcony of the room where it is said that he slept once.

Llamas butcher shop in La Alcarria © Jerónimo Álvarez


It is bad to enter a town, or a house, for the first time at night.

However, it is night when they arrive in Budia and friendly parishioners advise them where to dine. In this large town, with old houses, with a probably splendid past, visitors stay impressed by the beauty of its dimly lit streets, the manor of its square and the warmth of its locals, which give them, of course, indications completely useless.

After two unsuccessful attempts, they return to the square where they are the jail in which supposedly Cela spent a night. A lady guides them on secondary roads where there is no GPS worth it, in the direction of The olive grove.

In the square, he says, there is a restaurant that is sure to be open. Arriving is closed night. Travelers glimpse through an iron gate to an older woman who picks up chairs and tables and raises her voice to ask if they serve dinner there.

- Nerd. Not here.

- Isn't this a restaurant where they serve dinner?

- Ah. No. Fridays and Saturdays only.

Nuri House, Utande © Jerónimo, Álvarez

Regional roads can cause one to lose his mind, in a good way and in a bad way.

When they come back to Brihuega, they are glad to find the grill open. The distances in 2018 are not the same as when Cela, who also was not allowed to repeat the town or spend more than one day.

The three or four tables of the bar are full and the waiter moves tired behind the bar.

- Can we have dinner at the restaurant?

- If I serve you inside, I have to be coming and going.

- Well, we'll eat at the bar.

They take some portions and a glass of milk and go to the campsite El Colvillo, where they park the motorhome and sleep for a few hours.

An owl and a cricket

They sing their sorrows

The donkey nods and smiles

Next to the door

At dawn they lead to Utande, of which Wikipedia says it is a town of 34 inhabitants. There the Nuri moved more than a decade ago, with his family and a donkey named Cid. Nuri is a graphic designer and illustrator, and has decorated with her drawings a small renovated rural house.

He prepares a picnic in a basket: tomato with oregano Y olive oil, jelly rolls from plum, homemade yogurts, organic goat cheese Y pears and figs from the garden. It prepares those who come by and request it, although it is not that many people pass by, they confess ...

Then comes the caretaker of the burrito and listening to him and Nuri talk, travelers think, delightfully in polygamy.

Pastrana © Jerónimo Álvarez


These travelers are not satisfied with finding things; They chase them. They put between eyebrow and eyebrow immortalize the reservoir of Entrepeñas at dawn, in the Alcarria baja, to which waters of the Block, he Valdetrigo Y La Solana, among others.

Reaching the entrance to the motorhome, without being indicated at all and reaching it thanks to a friendly blogger, is not easy. There is no guard, there is not a soul, and it even seems that the sun appears a little there with reluctance. When they finish, they cross with a fisherman and march to comfort their stomachs.

After a while on the deserted road, they see a lady near Sacedón and shows them the bar of a very steep street. The waiter, who also sells bread, prepares them with care fried eggs with potatoes that save their lives.

The traveler reflects: This man has made our day, but we will never see him again.

There are, sometimes, fearsome feelings of well-being capable of breaking down mountains; against them we must fight with courage, as against an enemy.


In Zorita They meet an elegant lady in her 80s accompanied by a Latin American woman who leans on to walk. They ask her what is the most beautiful thing in town and she replies that the age difference with them is very large.

- What seems pretty to me, maybe not you.

In this town there is a charming restaurant, Grandma Wonders, with a viewpoint over the Tagus, which up close is a murky and ugly river, from afar it looks pretty, very elegant. At Archaeological Park of Recópolis, along with Zorita, you can follow the traces of Visigoths, Andalusians and Christians from the 6th to the 17th centuries.

It's a clear morning and the air is clean, lucid, transparent, diaphanous. A soul does not pass by the road, neither walking nor by car.

Laurea Casa Abuela © Jerónimo Álvarez

Until Pastrana, where Moratín wrote The yes of the girls, there are two and a half hours of walking, but in the motorhome they arrive in ten minutes. Visit el Eboli Palace, that that traveler found so abandoned and today is splendid.

The tapestries, as Cela claimed that it was fair and necessary, are nowadays where they should be: in the Museum of this Ducal Villa, where it is more pleasant to find these jewels as by chance, far from the false unnatural order and the coldness of the capital's museums.

In the town there is also a young woman named Cristina who teaches them the facades of the Jewish synagogue, the House of the Calatravo Knight Y the wall, and the San Francisco Arch. Along with this construction of the fourteenth century, he tells them about the silent and emotional procession of the Holy Burial and Solitude, which leaves on Good Friday. Cofrades illuminated with candles and torches, he explains, walk the steep streets.

Cristina owns Laurea Grandma House, a home-cooked restaurant with a beautiful terrace. He has a son named Máximo, like the traveler, who did not expect to find a parallel life in La Alcarria.

- I told my mother-in-law that it was for her husband, but it was for Gladiator For that scene in which Russell Crowe go down to the sand and everyone shouts "Má-xi-mo, Má-xi-mo" ...

In the shop window of a bakery there is an editorial of a nine-year-old girl, Marta Garrido, from Martos (Jaén). Says so:

“This town has a square called Plaza la Hora. It's called that because Princess Eboli was there, they took her every day for an hour to sunbathe. In that square there is a bakery that sells the typical sweets of the town and its name is drunk ”.

The Arbor of the Nuns © Jerónimo Álvarez

They have lunch at The Arbor of the Nuns, a restaurant built on the premises of the Convent of San José of the s. XVI, where three or four cloistered nuns still live and was founded by Santa Teresa Y the princess of Eboli.

Manuel is the room director; he serves them vegetable ratatouille, black pudding and crumbs, and speaks to them of that enigmatic lady, beautiful, one-eyed and, apparently, horny -So Cela described- that competed in divism with Santa Teresa. The owner's brother, the painter Javier CámaraHe has decorated the walls with his impressive paintings. One of them represents the newly arrived Eboli de Mar.

Pastrana It is a lot of town to kick it in one day, and La Alcarria is a lot of Alcarria to kick it in a few, so travelers think that tomorrow will be another day and that this trip comes to an end. Where they wanted they walked and, where not, they turned ...

trip to alcarria camilo jose cela who has

Video: Trip Across Castilla-La Mancha and Alcarria. Viaje a Castilla-La Mancha y Alcarria (March 2020).

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