Backpacking Teacher

Travel, teaching and things in between. Saigon is the focus for now.

Day 18: Bercianos de Real Camino to Mansilla de las Mulas

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I followed my shadow today.. Actually, to be completely honest I follow my shadow everyday. It seems to know the way to Santiago if I do not. When my shadow moves to my feet and then begins to drag behind me I know that it’s about time to call an end to the walking day. There’s no point to walking the Camino with a tired shadow.

This morning’s walk out of Berciano de Real Camino (makes me wonder if there’s a competing town called Berciano de Unreal Camino) started around 6:30 when the sun is just beginning to rise. A sky of purples and reds and blues sat atop the fields of yellow and patches of muddy brown plowed earth. Early morning walks are always great, forgoing a sleep in (well nigh impossible in a dorm anyway) means you get to see the day breaking, the birds swooping, the air chilly but beginning to warm, the promise of a beautiful day sitting expectantly all around you.

Today’s walk started briskly with a body that’s feeling good. Just 8km away lay breakfast and I enjoyed moving at a goodly pace. When I arrived in the breakfast town, El Burgo Ranero (sounds like a chain of steak restaurants, doesn’t it?) I found I’d walked past the bar so I decided to forge ahead. Next stop was 13km ahead, just under 3 hours.

Those next 13km proved to be long and dull if not particularly arduous. I plowed on along this straight, straight, straight road with it’s accompaning peregrino pathway coloured a dirt greyish, whiteish yellow. Young trees lined the road and future peregrinos may enjoy their comfort but they did little for me. I enjoyed the occasional stream or outcrop of trees, the field of sunflowers and even the ultralight airfield but overall this was a piece of the Camino that errs more to endurance than enjoyment.

My body however was feeling good. I stopped briefly in a little town called Religios for breakfast and was pleasantly surprised to be given a gift of an orange by the owner. I drank my coffee and sliced my orange enjoying it’s succulence before heading off for the last 6km stretch. I also left my penknife behind 😦

The last 6km I did not want to end. The road wasn’t particularly different and you’d think my body would have been tired after the first 21km but I hit the zone. That moment that sportspeople talk about when the the body clicks into gear and everything is possible. My mind began to wander as the body just walked. I walked at quite a pace but really enjoyed it, not looking forward to the 6km’s ending. I put on some music and positively cruised forward like some well tuned sportscar. Before I knew it I was in the lively town of Mansilla de las Mulas.

I arrived at about 11:30 and so I sat around chatting with others until the Albergue opened at 12. I made good time and while I enjoy a leisurely walk somedays and enjoy my coffee stops on all days I find that I also take pleaure is pushing my body. This means on the days when I do this I arrive at our destination before the hive. Someone referred to me as speedy gonzales but I enjoy the occasional days that I push my body hard. I do not however do too many km’s in a day as this would bring the Camino to an end sooner than I would like.

Within half hour of the Albergue being opened I had showered, had my washing done (I have never washed as much and certainly not as much by hand as on the Camino) and was sitting at a table in the narrow calle outside the albergue enjoying the sun and my ice cold beer greeting other peregrinos as they came in ….. It is always a great pleasure to see faces and people you know in such out of the way, unfamiliar places.

Later on I walked the town then joined some friends for a wine and tapas. The tapas I tried this time was chicken necks. It was surprisingly tasty, spicy and succulent and I was thoroughly enjoying sitting in the calle talking to my friends whilst enjoying my Rosé and tapas. We’d all walked in from St. Jean Pied de Port and were enjoying this beautiful day in this lively little town whose denizens filled the streets. Tonight we’ll go out for tapas and a few vino tinto’s with a slightly bigger group.

Another great day on the Camino

Ps. Two German girls came up to me and gave me the penknife I’d left behind in Religios 🙂 Things like this happen all the time on the Camino. Just two days ago I’d found a phone on the trail and managed to track down it’s owner, a young Italian guy with a hole in his pocket. Everyone seems to have a similar story
— Posted from my phone


Written by backpackingteacher

July 19, 2009 at 1:29 am

One Response

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  1. Very nice desscription of your shadow.
    I have heard stories of the “angels” on the route that do things like returning penknives and cellphones. Uncanny isn’t it. Shows you how connected we really are.


    July 21, 2009 at 9:37 pm

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