CF21 Day 8 – Burgo Ranero to Mansilla de las Mulas

This morning I woke up early and went outside to look at the stars seeing as I was in a place with so little light pollution. It was actually so early I saw Laura leave! I know I keep saying I won’t walk in the dark, but there and then I could absolutely see why she loves her early morning sunrise walks. The sky really was stunning out in the little huerta at the albergue Laguna. I didn’t realise why it was called Laguna until I went for breakfast at the place we were the night before, and some fellow pilgrims told me about people going to the lagoon to take pictures of the night sky reflected in the water. That must have been something to see – one for next time maybe?

Passing the little lagoon all the trees along the senda were wrapped in colourful crochet blankets which took some of the monotony away.

I started out with Powerlady (so called because she powerwalks – even up hills!) and the Texan but they soon left me in the dust. Each to their own tempo on the camino – trying to keep up with or slow down for someone else is a guaranteed way to get an injury. I was quite content with my own company and tempo and the crunching underfoot. There would be 13 kms of it with no stops until Reliegos.

Sometimes you have to speak a language people understand. Especially when they fail to understand it intuitively. Pack it in, people, and more importantly, pack it out! Leave no trace, take only photos and leave only footprints. It’s disgusting how much toilet paper is left on or near the trail. If you gotta go, you gotta go, but bring a bag with you to carry the paper to the next bin.

Finally, Reliegos! The first time I came here, I saw fellow pilgrim Kerry’s walking pole Rod leaning up against the wall outside the Blue Bar, and she was inside salsa dancing with the owner after a shared bottle of cava. I sensibly just joined them for an ankerbier, then went round the corner, got a room and a shower and put my shoes outside to air out before I went back. By that time a whole party had broken out and I was glad I could stay out until after ten…

Or so I thought. Turns out I didn’t have a key to the front door, just the room. Kerry had nowhere to sleep so I offered her the spare bed in my room, but as we were trying to get in, the landlady, who was walking her dog before bed, discovered us. She told us off in Spanish, and then luckily for me let me in, and unluckily for Kerry turned her away. Later I found out she had a friend in the muni who let her in. As for me, when I woke up I discovered that my shoes, which I had left outside, were now inside a locked gate. Which I also didn’t have a key for. So I had to stay in Reliegos until the cleaning lady came at eleven… Happy memories.

After a stop in Reliegos, where both my bars were closed, I got stuck into the last 6 kms to Mansilla de las Mulas. I have never stayed here either before, but I had a room so I was in no hurry. The weather was mild and a cool breeze made it a lot more comfortable than the last few days’ walk. As I arrived in town I went straight into the first bar, which I remembered as a breakfast place after staying in Reliegos twice before. My younger and fitter compadres from the night before were all moving on to the next village to get closer to León, so suddenly there were no familiar faces left. I discovered that my room was literally next door, checked in, showered and changed, had some bacalao and then went back to my room because it was getting really cold to sit outside. So I crept under the covers to warm up… And woke up again at seven.

Then after a short spin around town, where most places were shut, I went back to the garden bar on the corner, where I am currently sitting with a beer and a much too big plate of embutidos which the lady assured me was small. It is delicious but I am worried I will end up cured myself!

And with that I am finally caught up with my blog posts and will soon go to bed to get ready for my walk into León tomorrow.

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