Close enough to exert its spiritual pull, the city of Santiago now called to us lowly pilgrims. It was a main topic of discussion at the albergues. When are you reaching Santiago? I’ll be there on such and such a date. How about you?
Day 18 – Carrión de los Condes to Terradillo de los Templarios
Technically, we’d been in the meseta since Burgos, but the empty section of 17 km after Carrión de los Condes was the most dreaded. There were no trees for shade or to stop the wind and no cafés to warm up in. The fields went on for miles and miles and miles.
With clouds over the sun, we didn’t have to worry about the burning heat, but I did feel a twinge of the meseta’s tremendous power. It rained for an hour or so, tiny drops that would normally have dampened the earth and freshened the air. Instead, the wind whipped my cape around repeatedly and soaked me. Every. Inch.
Despite this, I managed the 17 km fairly well. I had no watch to determine the time and no GPS to measure the distance. I put one foot in front of the other and tried to think of the important things in my life: my children, my grandchildren, my friends, the weight of my pack, my swollen feet, the ache in my heel, the way my hips had started to rebel and my need to emotionally release the anger I had towards my mother.
The last three kilometers to Terradillos were beautiful, with long-needled shrubs, grabbing at us as we walked.
Day 19 – to Bercianos del Real Camino
Heading into Sahagún, the only city between Terradillos de los Templarios and Bercianos del Real Camino, the landscape started getting more interesting, again. The trail was next to a highway, but I was happy to have color around me and a break in those endless fields.
Instead of following the highway into the city, I took a detour to the Ermita de la Virgen del Puente. Unfortunately, it was closed, but as a spot for a brief rest, it was perfect.
These two incredibly beautiful statues were on the road out of the Ermita; remnants of the former greatness of Sahagún..
Day 20 – to Mansilla de las Mulas
I’d found the trail out-of-town the night before, and I left early. These morning skies never ceased to fill me with awe.
Trees lined the path, and fall reddened the foliage. The photo below was one of those lucky breaks. The morning light was just right when I took it.
My destination, Mansilla de las Mulas, had the most amazing Roman bridge. There were many of these along the trail, broad and sweeping across empty expanses of ground, likely built when the rivers were much wider.
This was a bit of a strange town, one I hadn’t warmed up to by the time I left. I’m not sure why. The hospitaleros, the albergue, the food, all had been good. I just didn’t feel completely comfortable in it.
Day 21 – To León
I’d met Herb and David earlier on in the Camino. And Herb (on the left) was always telling me I walked too fast. I should slow down, and then I’d see more around me.
So I decided I’d walk with them for a full day – at their speed. It turned out to be pretty nice. Herb had downloaded old rock music. It pumped out of his iPad as we walked.
León was my favourite city along the Camino. The food was outstanding, people were friendly, and the city overflowed with historical and cultural attractions. Had I stayed in Léon for a rest day, I’m not sure I could have pulled away to finish the Camino.