Stage 19: Mansilla de la Mulas to León (Curtis)

The medival walls of Mansilla de las Mulas at dawn

I rolled out of Mansilla a lot later than I had intended this morning, mainly because I could not get to sleep and needed a second cup of coffee in another of the town’s bars to get me rolling. Didn’t really matter in the end, because I knew I had a real short walk ahead of me and that I was gong to be grabbing a taxi from Villarente into León. Yeah, I know; a taxi is verboten for pilgrims, but then again, this isn’t my Camino, it’s Linda, Mike, Aidan and Alex’s Camino and I had to get into León as early as possible today to meet the three guys who will finally be arriving to join Linda and myself today.

After nearly three weeks’ of walking, first with Cheryl and Linda, then with Linda, it’s going to be interesting to see how the new group dynamic plays out with the addition of the three men to the group. I’ve been looking forward to it, though I’m certain it will require some adjustment.

And really, I can’t say I was sorry to miss the walk into León. After all these years, it continues to be a bloody nightmare. After some nearly 20 kilometers alongside the highway through industrial corridors, and over at least one terrifyingly narrow bridge upon which pilgrims are separated from the rumbling of passing trucks by mere millimeters, you get to a point at which you have to walk along the shoulder of the three-lane expressway that rings the city, with cars whizzing past you at top speed. It’s amazing that in all the years I’ve spent on the Camino, they’ve done absolutely nothing to improve it. If anything, with the new shopping centers and expansion of the motorway around and out of León, it’s gotten worse. Pilgrims travelling the Camino are low on the list of priorities in this province.

Aidan’s flight out of Dublin had been cancelled yesterday and he had phoned me to say that he would be arriving in León later than expected. I got to the hotel around 12.30 and hung out in the bar (having a coffee! Jeeez!) until Mike and Alex rolled in. Linda arrived before they got there, so we were both there to greet the two of them. The first order of business, after showing them to their rooms and getting them settled in, was to get some lunch. After that I popped off to chat with a friend in León while Linda and the fellas headed over to see the cathedral and the Basilica de San Isidoro. I met them back at the hotel around 7.00 p.m., and Aidan rolled up shortly afterwards, so we got him settled in and headed out to get him a pilgrim credential at the Benedictine monastery, get the rest of our credentials stamped there, and grab some tapas in León’s lively Barrio Húmedo before heading back to the hotel for supper and our beds.

The fellas are clearly still recovering from jet lag and in need of a good sleep; Alex also seems to have picked up some kind of bug on the tip over for which he is taking some penicillin. He and Mike decided to skip supper and just head straight to bed in the hopes that he will be in good enough shape to tackle tomorrow’s walk. He’s young and athletic, so here’s hoping he’ll kick it fast and be able to really get into the walk with us.

So, it’s back on the road tomorrow, this time with the full complement. Looking forward to it. Ultreia once more!

The gang's all here. Alex, Mike and Aidan join Linda and I in front of León's cathedral.


One thought on “Stage 19: Mansilla de la Mulas to León (Curtis)

  1. Hello to the new full group! Love the photo! I have all of you in my prayers everyday. Hey Linda – guess what I have on my pies! My new pair of Nimbus 12! I’m floating. I really hope that your feet are better. My son Dan has moved into a much safer neighborhood. That takes a lot of the pressure off of all of us. Work – yuck is soon upon me going back to church on Oct. 25. Is that terrible to say??? I would be very interested in any comments from the group on why embarking on El Camino – and what changes have been happening spiritually, emotionally, new insights that you would give me permission to share as I talk about the trip back here at home. God bless. Cheryl

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