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Published: July 11th 2013
This evening as I sit in the TV room of the convent (yes I am staying in a convent tonight - oh if only the nuns knew they would be on their knees praying for my eternal soul for hours! LOL - contemplating my day the 23rd Psalm comes to mind.
Yesterday I was weary and hot and tired. I ached so badly and I was tired of walking! It was the first time I really just wanted to quit and go home. I had started early in the morning so I wasn't walking in the worst heat of the day. I even arrived in Mansilla de las Mulas an hour before the albergue municipal opened. I had a long afternoon to rest and I soak. my feet for the first time while eating lunch. Oh my feet loved me for that! Tonight I will soak them in my tub (oh its heaven - for 20 euros I have a private room and bath with a tub!) again so they continue loving me. I even paid to have my laundry done - well washed. I still hung it out to dry, which took no time in the scorching heat. I had a light and nutricious dinner and even took a nap. I NEVER nap. I was so tired and grouchy I didn't know how I was going to get up again the next day and walk. Thank goodness I thought that Tuesday was a short day - only 19k.
Well despite the heat in the crowded albergue and the loud talking and carrying on in the courtyard below my window, I slept great. I awoke at 4:15am ready to go. I packed up and slipped out to fix my breakfast in my blender (yes the crazy American carries a small blender and of course this bluetooth keyboard I am typing on). As I was finishing my smoothie the German woman I had met the night before (she was in the bunk above me) came in and asked if she might walk with me. She had no flashlight and didn't want to walk alone. She was a pleasant lady - we had had a nice exchange the afternoon before. I said sure and we headed outshortly after 5am.
This woman was truly a gift from God. Downtrodden and grouchy the day before - He provided me a walking companion who was just what I needed. There is also nothing like walking under the stars and at that time of day the cool Spanish wind is still there. God truly made sure this day that I did not want and He restored my soul in a way I would have said yesterday was not possible.
My friend was actually from Romania, but a partt of Romania that is a mix of German and Hungarian and Serbian, so I am not sure if she is a German Romanian or a Romanian German, but she was a delight no matter! She has done several of the Caminos and this is her second time on this one. She shared wonderful stories and gave me some good tips. We talked and we laughed and we praised God and we lifted one another up. It was a GREAT walk and we reached Leon before the worst heat struck. She and I went to the Cathedral of Leon toghether and toured it - first time I have paid to enter a cathedral. The stained glass is AMAZING. She shared tidbits about the history and the different altars as we toured. Then we headed out and had Cafe con leche (well she just had the steamed leche) and a tortilla together. She was such a wonder! Then we walked together to a place she could get her credential stamped, which happens to be the convenant where I am now staying. It is about two blocks from the cathedral.
I walked her back to The Way (the yellow arrows of the Camino) as she wasn't staying in Leon. I then went in search of the Albergue run by the Benedictine nuns we had passed a sign for earlier. I wasn't sure I wanted to pay 20 euros at that time to stay in the convent - that's about $26. Remember I have been paying 5 euros a night to staying in a big room on an uncomforable bed, sharing communal bathrooms - 20 seemed a bit much. Well I couldn't find the albergue, but seemed to have no problem finding my way backhere. Although the nuns speak no English I managed to get myself a wonderful room and cold water. After some work I was able to ascertain there is no mass tonight, but one sister unlocked the chapel and allowed me time to pray. It was a beautiful rather modern chapel. I think this place provides dorms for Catholic college students during the year.
But wait the story doesn't end! I unloaded my stuff and locked my room and then headed out in the city to look around and also score some sangria and piementos rellenos (our chili rellanos back home only better) if I could. After much wandering I gave up on the sangria - would have to settle for wine as I have given up beer for the week (it had gotten where I was drinking a beer at break about 10 and then another when I got into town and then again later with dinner - you have to understand it is very cold and refreshing when its hot!). I went into a bar near the convent and got some tapas and red wine. It cost me a whole 1,50 euros! My daughter tells me that tapas are typically free if you are drinking. I picked this bar because it was away from all the tourists and seemed to be filled with locals. I picked a seat in a back corner where it was cooler and quieter so I could relax and journal. As I was getting ready for round two an older lady approached me and began speaking to me in Spanish. I explained to her I could neither speak or compr
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