As I started to write this post we were having a mid-hike break and I was sitting outside an albergue eating potato tortilla and sipping on the icy cold beer of my beloved. ZZ top were blaring La Grange out of the speakers. We had just walked almost 12 km across the Meseta without a stop – again! I am a champion. The council have planted trees along here the same as in the Real Camino yesterday but the early morning sun did not really give any shade. We were hot. Well my husband was anyway – but you all knew that. Beside us was a German man with a very sore leg – he explained the problem to us at great length and with great passion – but we have no idea what he said, we just agreed. His leg looked very sore with a bag of ice on his shin.
Another American girl had just taken off down the track limping and wincing – a young fellow said “its only 6 kms to the next town – you should be there in an hour”. She said “an hour and a half for me” and we yelled out “two hours for us”. The young man had already walked 30 plus kilometres and was going to stay there the night – it looked a bit dead for us. We were heading for Mansilla so we only have 18ks to Leon tomorrow.
Mansilla de las Mules means ‘hands on the seat of the mule’ or something like that. I am thinking back to the butt grabber and, I may not have mentioned these, but after all the serious hikers had gone to bed in Calzadilla de la Cueza (the last place I swam), just as the french lover jc had brought out his guitar, we were given plastic Camino hands . When the young man working at the albergue handed these camino memorabilia out I asked “que significa?” what do they mean? – He didnt know so we agreed they would be a reminder of the but grabber of Castrojeritz!
Now we are in another town that makes reference to the hands – this time related more to hands on the saddles of the donkeys of old than the romeos of new, so I think I’ll consider the hands a reminder of Mansilla instead. It has a beautiful river and a medieval wall surrounding it and it has a bit more life than more recent pueblos.
That morning we had said goodbye to the German lady who was walking 37km days but had slowed to our pace. She was going home with her sore knee and catching a bus to Madrid to get her flight. She told us that the crowd at Calzadilla were the maddest on the Camino “did you know they were drinking beer for breakfast?” Well they may be the maddest but maybe that’s why we liked them. None of them rushed off at 6am to get the hostel bed in the next town did they? Don’t worry we werent drinking beer for breakfast – not yet at least – nor were we taking off at 6am – of that you could be certain. We could still find coffee and boccadillos (sandwiches) before the need for beer overcame us! The only time we had left so early was when all those mad people were strewn across the pathway sleeping outside of Belgrado.
We arrived at Mansilla de las Mules and found Pension Blanco where we had sent our bags. Only 4 rooms in total but very clean and very comfortable right next door to the albergue. We went for a wander for dinner and saw the nice Japanese fellow and his wife again and also saw the German with the sore leg outside another bar with ice on his shin – he was with another german we had also met along the way. It was quite a nice little town with a nice bit of greenery near the river and we enjoyed a meal sitting next to the American students we had met the night before.
Sometimes catching up with people you have already met and doing not much else is great after a long walk!
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