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Published: October 22nd 2017
Geo: 42.5937, -5.56989
Lights came on at 6:00, but as usual, people were stirring at 5:00. Dave was up about 5:30 to put ice on his shin. We had a quick breakfast of yogurt and a bar and headed out about 7:00 - pitch dark!
There were two routes out of town, and in the dark, we were not sure which we took. It was a real struggle finding the Camino arrows and it didn't ease the anxiety that we saw no one.
One route would have a village in 5 kilometers, the other over 8. When we knew we had gone well over 5, we finally knew which route we were on. Our first and only coffee was in Calzadilla de los Hermanillos.
We filled our water bottles and headed out for the 18 kilometer slog across the longest and most deserted stretch of the Camino. We were on the old camino, the Roman Road. In fact, several sections along our path were fenced in to preserve the road. We saw a total of one train, one bicycle, and three pilgrims! If looking for solace, this is the place to be.
We took a couple of breaks, the most memorable sitting on a bale of
straw in the middle of nowhere.
There is a beautiful purple flower that we have seen for many days. We have come to call it the "miracle flower" because it has no leaves, seems to sprout right out of the ground, and grows in the harshest conditions - like on a gravel path. These flowers were all along our path today.
When we set out we were looking at either a 25 or 32 kilometer day. Our decision was made in the village of Reliegos, the 25 kilometer option. There were a couple of albergues, but it just didn't feel right. On the approach to Reliegos, there were some strange looking underground caves with chimneys out the top. These are bodegas or wine cellars!
We opted for a nice lunch/snack in a
local park and decided we would push on to Mansilla de las Mulas. The best part of lunch was that a British couple offered us half of their tomato to go with our ham, cheese and crackers. The leftover wine in our bota made it perfect.
We arrived at Albergue Gaia about 3:30. It is a 10-bed dorm and we got an upper and lower bunk. They have a capacity of
20, but tonight there would only be 8 of us.
Next to us is Jeanine from California, who we met in Boadilla a few days back. She is having some serious foot issues and plans to see a doctor in Leon tomorrow. She also informed us that lots of people are going to bus to Leon because of the industrial sections and high traffic approach to the city. We'll be walking.
After unpacking, cleaning up and registering into the Gaia, 5 euro, we headed out and walked this pretty medieval town, with a current population of about 2,500. About half of its 12th century wall is still intact. Walking the streets was a good mix of locals and pilgrims.
We landed in a restaurant that offered a pilgrim menu for 7 euro, which sounded great until we went to pay. We had somehow misread the menu, and something we ordered, made it 11 euro each.
We were trying to ask the server about a local card game that we have seen people playing everywhere. They had the cards there and we were trying to see if we could buy a deck, but we were not communicating. He came back with Sam from Georgia
(now studying at Stanford).
Sam was part of a group of younger pilgrims who we had bumped into a dozen times and actually stayed in the same albergue more than once. We had commented that Sam was the nicest of them. Well, after Sam was brought in to interpret, we finally introduced ourselves. Cutting to the chase, they wouldn't sell us the cards, but told us we could buy them in Leon.
We returned to the albergue about 9:30, and the lights were still on, even though all of us were back. This meant that we didn't have to sneak around in the dark getting ready for bed.
This was our longest day yet (33 kms) and we were out for the count!
Tot: 2.718s; Tpl: 0.051s; cc: 6; qc: 52; dbt: 0.0503s; 2; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 3;
; mem: 1.4mb