Saturday, September 24, 2011

Camino De Santiago - Mansilla De Las Mulas To León

I got up and tied my shoes as LA had explained to me the day before and left Mansilla de las Mulas.  While the ankle still bothered me it was not nearly as bad as before.

A lot of this day was semi-urban.  I was approaching the city of León and you could tell.  Near the town of Puente Villarente you cross a long bridge over a river.  When they built this bridge they did not take pilgrims into account.  As I got closer to the other side, the narrow strip of concrete I was walking on got narrower and narrower.  Add the cars, and especially the trucks, whizzing by and this bridge crossing became a harrowing ordeal.  I was just waiting for a truck mirror to smack me.  I was happy to get off that bridge.

From a crosswalk over a major highway I saw an Ice Cream distributor.  I wondered, if I stopped in, would they give me a free sample?  I may never know.

The Camino crosses another bridge, el Puente de Castro, and passes what looked like a pile of rocks surrounded by a fence.  A plaque said it was some ruins.  To me it just looked like a pile of rocks.  I decided the way to tell the difference between a pile of rocks and an old ruin was that the ruin had a fence around it.

I reached a junction and had to decide between the municipal and the parochial albergues.  I decided I would head for the municipal.  As I got closer I realized I was not in a very nice neighborhood.  It was old and run down and there weren't very many stores.  Then I reached the albergue.  I swear it looked like a prison.  Turns out it was an old army barracks.  I looked at it for a  minute or two and decided it was not the right place for me.  I backtracked a bit and followed the sign toward the Parochial albergue.

Before I reached the albergue I ran into GV.  She was waiting for me on a corner.  We'd been exchanging emails and I knew she had been delayed in Carrión de las Condes by ATM issues and I knew she was thinking about spending another day in León due to new blister issues.  These two delays had allowed me to catch up to her.  I have to say seeing a familiar face made me feel a lot better.  The rest of the gang was still a couple days ahead but at least I had someone I knew I could talk to.

I followed GV to the albergue.  As we were waiting for it to open PR and LS show up.  LS had taken a bus from Mansillas de las Mulas due to a bad little toe.  Turned out it was an infected blister under the nail similar to my big toe blister.  She went to the health center and got it all fixed up.

We checked into the albergue and did our chores.  This was one of those rare albergues where the men and women had separated sleeping quarters.  It was run by an old Sister who kept strict but fair .. rules.

As GV had already been in León a day, she played tour guide.  We started with lunch as Gsaid I looked a little gaunt when I walked into León.  I'm not surprised considering how little I ate on the Meseta.  We went to see the cathedral which had some awesome stained glass windows.  I bought another rosary for the Wife here.  We walked around the city passing modern art and another church.  She showed me the McDonalds that she'd eaten in the day before.  I fought the urge - American fast food would be reserved for the end of my Camino - a twisted kind of reward.

We stopped at an outfitter and I bought a replacement for the first casualty of the Camino - my towel.  My other towel had started to become holey ... literally.  My new towel was a more durable microfiber and just as absorbent and quick drying as my old one.  GV bought some new sandals which she loved.

We walked around a lot of León.  The one thing I failed to do is buy a magnet there.  That will have to be corrected someday.  We eventually got hungry and we went in a restaurant where we ran int  MA and his wife.   They invited us to join them and we had a good dinner (one of the best I had on the Camino - fall off the bone fried chicken) with more good conversation. - a conversation of mixed English, French, and Frenclish.

After dinner we went to a prayer service offered by the Sister who ran the Albergue for pilgrims .  It started out a little too hard core for us so GV and I left and found the albergue locked.  We waited in the cool air with several other pilgrims until the prayer service was over and they reopened the albergue.

By this point I'd suggested in emails to home that I might take a bus.  This generated a negative reaction from the family.  They all thought I should avoid the bus.  At the beginning of my Camino that was my attitude as well.  I wanted to walk the whole thing.  By the time I got to León my attitude had changed.  I think I've said this before but I will repeat myself: The Camino is a spectrum with Walking at one end and Social at the other.  Each pilgrim falls somewhere on this spectrum.  When I started I was near the Walking end but by Grañon I'd slid way over toward the Social side.  I think I said it best in one of my emails home:
"I do want to be able to say I walked the whole thing but I also want this to be an enjoyable adventure and crossing the finish line without friends around you is not very satisfying."
Talking with GV, we decided to take the bus to Astorga and essentially skip two days ahead.  I had two reasons - to catch up with others from the gang and to give my ankle and blister some time to heal.  GV had these reasons plus she had a time crunch.  (Looking back at what I did after León, I too had a time crunch and I couldn't have done all that I did if I hadn't jumped ahead.  I didn't realize this when I was in León though)

Day twenty-three turned out to be a turning point on my Camino.  I was once again with a member of the gang.  My feet were getting better.  The Meseta was behind me.  My mood was improving.  And the adventure continued ... by bus.



Total Distance: 11.97 Miles (19.26 km)
Total Time: 4 hours 15 minutes
Total Elevation Up: 1,487 ft (456.29 m)
Total Elevation Down: 1,438 ft (438.30 m)

[Click on map for a larger version]

6 comments:

  1. Oh I'm so happy your feet aren't killing you!

    I get caught up in doing things "the correct way" in my head. But then sometimes I miss out on a lot of fun that way. judging by your hints, it sounds like it was a happier move to take a short bus trip :)

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  2. MMC: It was a happier move. And I was even happier as my feet felt so much better.

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  3. Taking a bus is one of the decisions i'm going to make when I get there. I'm not entirely against it, but I am strongly wanting to walk the whole way. As with all things in life i'm just going to wing it when the time comes, I tend to just take things as they roll anyway.
    --Allen

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    1. Allen, On my next Camino I will once again try to avoid taking buses. I really want to walk the whole thing next time. I think buses should be reserved for health/time issues. I thought this last time too but my attitude changed so I can't guarentee it will not change again.

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