Terradillos de los Condes ➡ Bercianos de Real Camino ➡ Mansilla de las Mulas
I woke tired and restless before my alarm on day 18 in Terradillos de los Condes. My ankle had been giving my grief in the night. The small room full of wooden bed frames creaked and groaned, while mattress covers rustled as their occupants tossed and turned in their sleep. I got up and dressed back into my simple hiking clothes, quick drying t-shirt and shorts, my ankle and knee brace, then woolen hiking socks and my Altra trainers. How I wished at this point I had been sensible and brought my leather hiking boots with the ankle support. Maybe then I wouldn’t have had all these joint problems. Dan joined us as I dropped my bag in the cubby, a paper leaflet with 5 Euro, my name and our end destination tied in a pink ribbon to its strap. Dan had paid extra for a room with fewer beds and had been bitterly disappointed. With only room for four beds, the noise of snoring and farting was only exasperated in the small space.
Our small group continued to go slowly across the landscape stopping often to rest, my ankle was much better today, but still definitely sore. In the small town of Sahagun, (Dan in desperate need of a cash machine) we stopped for breakfast. Caffine and pastries was becoming somewhat of a Camino ritual. I unfortunately unknowingly made the mistake of ordering a small cake filled to the bring with cream. (I’m lactose intolerant.) i pouted and palmed off the delicious-looking delicacy to Royce. Spain’s food was great, but didn’t accommodate overly well if you had allergies if you were vegetarian, let alone vegan!
The days’ walk was much of the same. The landscape was becoming progressively more green, but it wasn’t the raw, picturesque beauty of the first few days in the Basque region. I had sent my bag to Bercianos del real Camino, which we arrived in around 1pm. Much to my dismay, as I was done with walking, the Albergue didn’t open till 2pm! And.. It was siesta time. It should have been a bustling village full of people. It felt instead like a ghost town; I was almost waiting for the tumble weed to spin past us. The only solution to this dilemma was; TO THE PUB!
Our Beds for the night were in another donotivo albergue, run by three volunteers. The pilgrims who we joined in the Albergue for the night were becoming more and more familiar, people we passed day by day all on the same path to Santiago. A group of us all helped with the dinner preparations. Lentil Stew and fruit salad with carrot and olives? A little odd but tasty enough. Each of the donotivo albergues we had stayed with had their own song to start the meal, and this one was no different. A rap in Spanish we all joined in with laughing and smiling while our bellies rumbled in anticipation. I sat between one of the volunteers; a Spanish man and another pilgrim from Leon, the next city we were to walk to. Loui The hospitlero joking asked if anyone would notice the stew had no meat in it. I replied somewhat solemnly that at this point in the trip I believed everyone was just grateful there were some vegetables. There is only so long you can survive on meat and bread, not that there was not plenty of baguettes to go around. I listened to the two men talk, able to pick up on words and the gist of the conversation, if not able to understand whole sentences. It was pleasing to know my language skill was improving enough I could sort of keep up.
Royce spent the evening with some fellow pilgrims back down at the pub, while I retired early. I wasn’t particularly enthusiast about doing any more walking for the day, however Royce’s late night meant he was a little more sluggish rolling out of bed the following morning. Not that we could leave at our normal early hour anyway. The hospitileros refused to unlock the door till after 7am. jackets on we started off as the dawn crept into the horizon. The rain we had been running from for the past week hung far less in the distance than I would’ve liked. As we walked, those clouds overtook us, and the water came barreling down from the dark sky. At day 19, it was our very first day of rain. Unfortunately, we were caught in the open air still kilometres from our nearest town as the thunder boomed around us and I cursed myself softly for not bring wet weather pants. as a farmer, I should’ve known better.
We stumbled into Burgo del Raneo, feet sodden, jackets dripping and legs soaked. Hopefully, we would find a dry place to sit. We came across a cafe. It was packed, every available space taken up with backpacks and jackets, puddles of water pooling on the ground. I looked at Royce, and he shrugged.
“We’re soaked as it is.” He said, I nodded my agreement we might as well keep moving. I looked at Dan.
“All right then.” he sighed, and we carried on into the darkened landscape. The steady fall of rain muffling the noises of traffic through my hood as we made our way through the small town. Another 13kilometres later we found a place to stop and get warm. The rain had been coming and going all day, but the wind was bitter and all three of us were freezing. I couldn’t feel my fingers trying to undo my jacket in the brightly lit cafe as we sat down for a hearty burger and.. crisps? Not quite what I was expecting when ordering a burger and chips!
Dan, with his still very sore blistered feet, decided he’d had enough walking for the day and Royce and I said goodbye to him in favour of carrying along a little further. I was in preference for only having a short walk the following day to Leon, where we had booked a hotel to stay in a proper bed! Our final few kilometres was uneventful if not very warm, we trudged our way into Mansilla de las Mulas to the municipal Albergue. It was littered with dripping coats in the narrow corridor and we had to walk through the rain again once inside to cross the small square courtyard up to the dormitories. My day dreams of hot showers were only somewhat fulfilled as the hot water was more like warm rather than the scalding temperatures I was hoping for. the small kitchen and dining room did however hold the warmth better and a number of us pilgrims packed ourselves in to cook and eat.
Royce and I had a packet of soup which we brought some vegetables, bread and wine to accompany and waited our turn to use the single stove top int the cramped kitchen space. A group of Dutch pilgrims who had met up along the way and walked together crowded into the small space with us. We had seen them a few times along the way and got chatting. They were making dutch pancakes! The smalls of batter and melted cheese blended with our vegetable soup and I gratefully accepted the offer to try one. Another pilgrim with too much pasta also joined us at the table. Together ten pilgrims all shared our food together to make a small feast in the steamy cold evening, laughing and conversing in Dutch, Spanish and English. The rain may have been pouring, but it couldn’t dampen the laughter and conversation bellies for to bursting as we revelled in the community the journey to Santiago had created.
Thanks for tuning in, I will try to speed up posts for a bit and get the rest of the Camino journey out before spring. I know a few of my readers are future pilgrims and would like have the diary entries finished before the season gets going. Don’t forget to leave a like and a comment and check out my top ten tips for Camino walkers HERE. Head over to Instagram (@kiwishepherdadventures & @thetravellingshepherds) to see our latest adventures, and updates on the van build. Until next time get out that gate.