Rockin’ the Roman Road
June 10, 2012
Today’s another wilderness day, as there’s no town for all 24km of our walk today. We sleep in, have breakfast at the albergue at 7am, just coffee and toast, and head out.
After about half an hour it starts to rain, so we find some trees and bring out our raincoats/ponchos and pack covers. I also have rain pants, but this is more of a misty rain rather than a Virginia deluge, so I don’t mind my pants getting a little wet.
Today we walk along the longest stretch of Roman road left in Spain. It’s not the first time on a Roman road, but the thrill of walking where the Emperor Augustus walked (well, he probably rode) is slowly turning to the agony of the feet. They used rocks under some dirt, but since no one but pilgrims use these roads, the dirt blows away and you have rocks. It’s a challenge to find a part of the path that does not have loose rocks or any kind of rocks to poke up into your shoes when you step on them. I’m spending more time studying the road for least rocky path than enjoying the rippling wheat fields I’m passing through.
I get a chance today to talk to Kathy, who runs the librarian certification (a two year program) at the Australian equivalent of our community college. It was fascinating to find out how many different skills are required to work in the library: you need to know IT and customer service, program planning and organization, as well as where the books go on the shelves. She also has the same administration/funding issues that I’ve heard from Susie, who also works at the community college.
After more than 2 hours of walking, stopping for a snack, then another 3 hours, we made it to Mansilla de los Mulas, the last stop before Leon. Our Australian friends are taking the bus straight to Leon, avoiding the suburban/industrial/walking along the highway route, considered relatively ugly by the guidebooks. It’s tempting to join them, but Uli wants to make her last day of Camino a triumphant walk to one of the most beautiful cathedrals and cities in Spain. I have promised myself as well that I will walk the rest of the way to Santiago. No more cheating!
We stroll through the medieval gate into the old town amongst flower petals (it’s a holiday) and bands playing. We check in to the albergue and head straight to lunch. Uli wants paella and the hospitalero directs us to a restaurant three doors down. It’s the best paella ever, followed by more fish, rice pudding, and an entire bottle of good wine. We’re there, eating, drinking, and talking for two hours until 4pm. Back to the albergue for a shower, laundry, and some blogging.
At 7pm, the usual dinner time, we’re not hungry in the least and still a bit drunk. We take a walk through the town, stop at the store for water and oranges, and look for something to do. The only action is in the bars where all the Spaniards are cheering their football (soccer) team on against the Italians.
Back to the room, we do an early prepack and have time to read before falling asleep a little after 9pm. Tomorrow we walk to Leon, just 18km. There, Uli will finish her walking Camino and take the train to Santiago. After I put my book down, I can hear a bunch of people talking in the next room, but earplugs work wonders, and before I know it, I’m out.