DAY 20: BOADILLA DEL CAMINO TO CARRION DE LOS CONDES
Our morning starts with a hot cup of cafe con leche (coffee with milk), an orange juice and one piece of toast with butter and strawberry jelly.
Breakfast is usually offered at most of the albergues, but we don’t typically eat there. You never know what you are going to get. The coffee is typically instant and we would rather have a frothy cup of Joe.
BUT at this albergue, we noticed their big ol’ shiny coffee machine along the wall when we came in from the rain yesterday. So here we are at seven o’clock and about to start our day.
As I am eating my toast, I think of our shoes lined up behind us on the floor and hope by some Camino miracle they would be dry. Nope, no miracle today. Our shoes look exactly as we left them last night when we arrived. We reluctantly slip them back on and almost immediately feel the dampness taking over our dry socks. And so we begin our day.
It was mostly uneventful and quiet today. When we left Boadilla, we walked along a waterway on one side and trees on the other. We even saw an otter slither under some greenery. We haven’t seen many animals on the trail and I have to say, I never thought an otter would be one of them! There’s not a lot of water on the Camino so it was a pleasant change.
Luckily our shoes dried midmorning or this taxi would have been a viable option!
Tonight’s lodging at Albergue Espiritu Santo in Carrion is quite special. We are at a monastery turned school turned albergue run by nuns. Or at least that’s what we think the story is.
It is only five euro a person and one of our favorites so far. There are no bunk beds, four toilets per bathrooms, a bunch of showers (with hooks and hot water) and laundry facilities.
We wandered around town, bought lunch for tomorrow at a tienda (market), and then had a pilgrim meal at a recommended restaurant with our new buddy from Portland.
Looking forward to tomorrow, it is a momentous occasion…
DAY 21: CARRION DE LOS CONDES TO TERRADILLOS DE LOS TEMPLARIOS
Today is special because a few miles in, we hit the halfway point of the hike!! 250 miles down, 250 miles to go.
It’s also supposedly the worst stretch of the Meseta. As I said before, we have yet to think it’s as agonizing as others might have portrayed it. Today may have reminded us a little of the boring flatlands of Illinois (minus the corn), but it wasn’t torturous. Part of it parallels a road, but only a few vehicles sped by, making it quiet most of the way.
Because of the lack of steep hills, we were able to crush a 16 mile day. Not too shabby!
DAY 22: TERRADILLOS DE LOS TEMPLARIOS TO CALZADILLA DE LOS HERMANILLOS
Some mornings are tough; our bodies may ache, our feet may be sore or maybe we didn’t get a good night’s sleep. Today, at 260 miles already walked, was one of those mornings for a few of us.
And then this happened…
Is that a sledgehammer in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?
Today has been my least favorite day so far with physical challenges and lackluster scenery. Although I’m not sure how much of the first influenced the last.
We veered off on the alternative route after the rundown city of Sahagun.
It added a few miles making our total mileage just under sixteen. The side route had no water, villages, bars or restaurants for the last five mile stretch. It kept us off the main route which is the popular path so we spent the day mostly by ourselves which is rare.
It was on this stretch that I felt like waving the white flag for the first time on the hike.
I’ve managed to lose Bertha, but Barbara the blister is still hanging around on my right foot. She has been quiet and less bothersome; I was slap happy that she seems to be accepting that our friendship has run its course.
And BAM out of no where my left foot little piggy is trying to run all the way home. It seems my heart maneuvered its way through my body, down my leg and into my toe. The throbbing was almost unbearable for most of the way with a numbness settling in the last mile or so. Which happened to be the prettier part of the afternoon.
At dinner the topic of discussion is whether or not to skip roughly 25 miles and bus to the city of Leon tomorrow. Although my mother-in-law has had absolutely no foot issues, she is battling a head cold which is not fun either.
What to do, what to do…
DAY 23: CALZADILLA DE LOS HERMANILLOS TO MANSILLA DE LAS MULAS
We are not giving up just yet! I wrap my toe and put on my Walmart knockoff Crocs and hit the road attempting to make the fifteen miles to the next planned stop.
We leave, but not before my mother-in-law snaps a quick picture of the taxi telephone number advertised at our albergue. A backup is always good to have on hand especially after yesterday!
We are supposedly walking on the longest stretch of Roman road left in Spain walked by Emperor Augustus himself. We have no idea when or what part it was because there are no signs and no part of the road looked particularly historical, but we were on it. Maybe here?
After a long boring five hours of walking, we reach the town of Reliegos. Have I mentioned we are now getting the whole love-hate thing with the Meseta?
We stop at a bar for a quick bite to eat. If it wasn’t for the other pilgrims and tables outside, we would have thought the battered graffitied building was abandoned.
We hear American music blaring on the radio and loud singing to go with it. As we walk in the door, a skinny older man with a gray beard is up on a stepping stone singing and slicing a huge meaty leg in a vice. Definitely an unforgettable stop at Bar Elvis.
We all feel decent so we rally and decide to go ahead and walk the final four miles to Mansilla de las Mulas.