TREKKING — DAY 19

EL BURGO RANERO to MANSILLA — 12 Miles

Lying in our huge room with 3 beds, it was tempting just to stay there all day.  I thought I would be really sore after yesterday’s 20 mile trek but once I was out of bed I felt fine.  I knew this would be an easy day, just 12 miles, and that made it all the better.  I didn’t know how Leslie felt but I didn’t think I could keep up the fast walk I did with her yesterday.  

It was 8:30 by the time I left and found my way to the Camino path.  It was long and straight and ran next to a secondary road.  

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There was hardly any traffic on the road so it was really peaceful and quiet. The thing that differentiated this path from others was that there were benches and picnic areas placed intermittently along the way so if you were tired you could always find a nice place to sit.  

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Some people just didn’t want to carry a backpack so they put a harness around their wastes and pulled a cart with all their belongings.  I can’t imagine doing that on some of the mountains we’ve had to pass.

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The first mile seemed to be the longest and I never thought I’d get it over with.  There was no one on the trail that I knew this morning so I was happy listening to music, which put a spring in my step.  Most of the terrain was flat, there were some hills to climb but they weren’t too bad.  After I’d gone about 6 miles I found a cement bench to sit on for about 5 minutes.  It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining, the sky was blue and the birds were chirping.  I had never in my life heard a coo coo bird but now I was hearing them every morning as I walked.  And they sounded exactly like a coo coo clock!  

After about 8 miles I came into a village called Rellegos and was going to take a break.  I didn’t want to stop at the first place I saw but just after I walked past it I heard someone calling my name.  It was Lesley.  We hugged and were so happy to see each other.  She had just finished her tea and was getting ready to leave but since I was there she decided to stay with me.  We were just sitting down at a table outside when Debbie and a guy named Brian showed up.  I was so happy to run into my two favorite walking partners.  They introduced me to Brian, who was from Ireland and seemed like Mr. Congeniality.  Brian bought us all coffee and fresh squeezed orange juice.  We had a great break sitting outside in the sun and of course laughing and telling funny stories.  Leslie said she had had a terrible night after that 20 mile walk we had done the day before — she woke up freezing and shaking uncontrollably and could not get back to sleep.  She thought it might have been a combination of walking so far mixed with a little sun poisoning.  Her face was really red.

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The 4 of us then set out walking together with Leslie and Brian (the fast ones) in front and Debbie and I (the decidedly slower ones) several yards behind.  When Brian saw a group of Trekkers standing at the side of the path he insisted we have our picture taken with them.

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The next 4 miles flew by and we had reached Mansilla.  Dick had texted me that our Hostel was called El Jardin (the garden) and although I had seen a sign for it I still hadn’t found it.  Just when I thought I had passed it, here came Dick walking toward us.  He took us right to it and that’s when we said goodbye to Brian and Debbie.  They were both staying elsewhere in Albergues.  

Although Lesley always stays in group rooms in Albergues she said she still wasn’t feeling up to par and wanted a private room for the night.  El Jardin was so cute and quaint with a huge yard in front with tables, chairs and umbrellas.  Dick had done a great job when he booked us there.  Leslie liked it too and we tried to get her a room there but they were full so she found one at a hostel right next door.  Dick had already paid for our room but when we went to check in they told us they were putting us at another place about a block away.  So all of us were staying in completely different places and no one was staying at El Jardin.  Our hostel was new and modern but didn’t have any of the quaint charm that we had learned to love.

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This is the view from our balcony.  After we got settled in the room we went back over to El Jardin so we could sit in the garden and have some lunch.  The first person we ran into was Matt, who is an artist.  He showed us his book of drawings of conquistadors and saints all having to do with the Camino.  We were so impressed.  He was a fabulous artist.  He had just done his wash and was spreading it all over tables and chairs to dry.  Another Trekker was in shorts (or under pants) and a sports bra, sunning herself.  Dick and I sat down at a table and ordered, beer, wine, a salad and Patatas Bravas.  Everything was fabulous.

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Just as we were finishing, Lesley walked in.  She had come for lunch so she sat with us while she ate and we drank more wine and beer.  Then just as she was finishing her meal, Debbie and her husband Jim came walking in.

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They sat with us and ate while we all continued to drink wine and beer.  Then just as they were finishing who shows up but Carol.  Then Brian and his friend wandered in and joined us.  And wait, just after that Debbie and Jim’s daughter Elizabeth walked in.  OMG this was one big happy family.  I’m not quite sure how we were all drawn together like that.  

We had been there the entire afternoon and it was now 5 o’clock.  Debbie and her family left and I told Dick we needed to go, too.  Lesley, Carol and Brian were all still there drinking when we went back to our room.  

At 8 o’clock Dick and I decided to go back and get a bite to eat.  Well what a shock — Leslie, Carol and Brian were all still there.  They had never left!  And they had been drinking all day!  Also, Carol’s daughter Leah was there.  Remember Leah?  She was the little blonde we had first met at the airport in Madrid.  They were sitting at a big long table with a bunch of other trekkers eating dinner.  So we pulled up chairs and joined them.  

It just amazed me how certain of us were always being drawn together along The Way.