Day Twenty: El Burgo Ranero to Mansilla de las Mulas

We have become a Camino Fable.

The sun hadn’t risen, when loud noises from the front of the albergue woke me. I crawled out of my bunk to investigate, finding two local farmers unloading food and drink for the coming day. Since I was already awake, I went to fetch coffee, and returned just in time to see Eva and Inga, looking sleepy, forage for the same.

We drank the coffee and ate some of the things we’d bought at the supermarket the day before, deciding to leave before breakfast. Eva and Inga checked their backpacks again. That way, should something happen to Eva, could I carry her while Inga carried my stuff.

The day took us along an old Roman road, but Inga chasing a bunny aside, nothing happened worth of writing about. For lunch, we stopped in Reliegos and ate reheated pizza, washed down with the world’s stalest Coke.

Eva did surprisingly well during the 22 kilometers of today’s leg, but told us that she had decided to take a cab or bus into Leon and would appreciate a Zero there. If we decided to walk on, she’d just cab after us. We talked briefly, no one wanting to be the one to admit defeat by the hands of the Camino, then decided that a Zero was a good idea.

A bodega.

“I got the hotel, this time,” I announced, booked Leon ahead, and helped Eva retrieve her backpack, find a cab, and scout ahead.

We spent the afternoon and evening, each in their own thoughts, me writing into my diary and sending messages back home, her reading a book about Knights Templar, in the albergue’s “yard,” a ten by ten meter concrete area covered in bird poop and discarded cigarette butts.

Only the arrival of a group of Russian pilgrims brought some levity: they were on a mission to find a fabled thing… two pilgrims, an American and a lady from Sweden, who were healing wounds and mending gashes somewhere on the Camino. “I think they call him Doc Holiday or something,” one Russian proclaimed. We all drank a shot to those great, ethereal, saints of the Way. Inga grinned.

I excused myself before Inga did, showered, brushed my teeth, retrieved laundry from the dryer, and went to bed. I didn’t dream.