What a long and boring walk. First, it was freezing cold (38ºF) when I left Reliegos in the dark at 7 a.m. with two nice ladies, Janine and Margaret from Australia and New Zealand. There was nothing to eat in Reliegos, so we planned to eat in 6.2 km at Mansilla de las Mulas. We entered the town through the 12th-century Puerta Castillo, the medieval gate in an old wall of adobe and boulders, up to Iglesia de Santa María.
Reliegos to Mansilla de las Mulas Centro (6.2 km)
At the far end of town, we still hadn’t found an open cafe. We’d never encountered a town of this size without a bar or cafe on the Camino.
The two ladies decided to walk on, but I backtracked into the town, determined to find an open cafe. I ran into to Harold and Joan from Texas, who pointed me to a bar we had earlier walked by but thought was closed. There I met lots of pilgrims: Tom from Alaska, Joyce and John from Oregon, and Sheryl from Seattle. I had my café con leche and toast with tomato and jambon. We all lingered in the bar before heading back out into the cold. Darina came in as I was leaving.
Mansilla de las Mulas, with a population of about 1,900, is a town which marks the convergence of two routes, the Real Camino Francés, which enters by the east gate, and the Calzada Romana, which enters by the north gate.
The name of this town comes from Mano en Silla, which means “hand on the saddle,” and features on the coat of arms. The added de las mulas (of the mules) likely refers to the town’s earlier function as a livestock market.
After leaving the town, I walked for ages along a busy highway. It is said that the stretch between Mansilla de las Mulas and Villarmoros is the worst on the stage, because it runs beside a noisy, dusty road in suburban surroundings. I came to a town, Villarmoros, with confusing arrows every which way. I followed the arrows to the left into a very small town with a bar.
Inside was a wood burning stove, so I sat for a while to warm up while downing some orange juice. I looked at my Brierley map and saw there wasn’t really a stop here. So I had gone off the beaten path a bit and had to make my way back.
I came to a bar, Casablanca, at the entrance to Puente Villarente and had a pain au chocolate and café con leche. Sheryl stopped by the cafe and said she’d hoped to walk with Darina, but she’d disappeared from the cafe in Mansilla de las Mulas. She had also hoped to walk with an 80-year-old woman she’d met at dinner the night before, but she’d disappeared too. I wondered if she thought people were avoiding her. I said Darina was like me in that she usually liked to walk alone. Some people didn’t enjoy walking alone, and I think Sheryl was one of those people.
Mansilla de las Mulas Centro to Villarmoros to Puente Villarente (6.1 km)
After crossing the unusual curved bridge over the río Porma, I walked straight through the modern and ugly town of Puente Villarente another 4.5 km to Arcahueja on an unattractive track running beneath pylons. I passed a herd of cows stretched out in a pasture.
After that, there wasn’t much to look at as we approached the outskirts of León. Ugh. I hated the approaches to big cities. I’d liken it to walking through the outskirts of a city like Richmond, VA to get to downtown. I stopped about 8km from León just to avoid going into the city at the end of the day. I also twisted my ankle today, so it was slow going.
Puente Villarente to Arcahueja (4.5 km)
There wasn’t much in Arcahueja. It was the last chance to rest in the relative quiet before hitting the traffic of León. I was happy to have a private room there. It was so cold and my ankle was so sore that I stopped at every single cafe, making me arrive at the same time I arrived in Reliegos after 20km!
When I arrived at Albergue Turistico la Torre at around 1:00, Sheryl was sitting inside the bar having a salad. Before showering and doing laundry, I went outside and had a mixed salad and a Radler (limon cerveza) in a bottle.
Sheryl talked about her Camino partner Sharon who she called high maintenance; Sharon had taken a bus today to meet her husband John in León. Because Sheryl had paid Sharon to organize her entire trip for her, she was tied to her for the duration. Sheryl had been struggling with knee and leg pain and didn’t really feel like walking to León today, but she finally decided to go ahead and walk.
That guy Phil from Britain was staying in the albergue, but he brushed off Sheryl and me. When he decided to talk to the men, you couldn’t shut him up. I met Mark from the Lake District in U.K. who now lived in Spain. He was covered in dust after walking 45km today. He had divorced his wife but was still friends with her and was walking the Camino this time to figure out what he wanted.
I took a little stroll around the town and enjoyed resting in the afternoon.
At our small pilgrim meal in the albergue — a meal of lentil soup, albondigas and fries — I talked with Mark, Phil, and Wendy from Vancouver. They got into a big political discussion. Phil talked about the split between conservative baby boomers and liberal millennials. His generalizations irritated me because I’m a baby boomer and I’m not at all conservative. They had a long discussion about Putin playing the long game and Trump’s Mafia connections. Phil went on making generalizations about the indigenous people in America (mainly Cherokees) sitting around and getting drunk and not working. He really irritated the crap out of me with his know-it-all-attitude.
Wendy showed me how to use Whatsapp to communicate with Jacotransfer to arrange for sending my bag ahead. I tried it out tonight and it seemed to work. We would see how it would work going forward.
*Day 29: Tuesday, October 2, 2018*
*28,814 steps, or 12.21 miles: Reliegos to Arcahueja (16.7 km)*
You can find everything I’ve written so far on the Camino de Santiago here:
On Sundays, I post about hikes or walks that I have taken in my travels; I may also post on other unrelated subjects. I will use these posts to participate in Jo’s Monday Walks or any other challenges that catch my fancy.
This post is in response to Capela, Sáo Miguel – Not quite a Monday Walk. I know Jo is out of town for a while, but I figured I’d link anyway. 🙂