Saturday, July 28, 2012

Day 23 Camino de Santiago July 28,Mansilla de las Mulas

    I arrived at the El Burgo Ranero albergue to a welcoming committee of the elderly.  There were four of them and they were tripping over themselves to be helpful.  One lady's job was to give a tour to the new guests that went something like this:  "Here is the kitchen.  That is the stove.  That is the sink..."  Hmmm, thanks!
The lady in the picture's job was to record the information in my Credencia which took 20 minutes to do a 50 second job.  So cute!!  I asked how much it cost and they all said in unison, "Donation"!
"Es gratis?" I said with a smile.
"No," grandma #3 said.  "It's one million dollars."
I smiled again and replied, "No problem.  Who do I give the check to?"
They all laughed and then started in on my bag.
"Es muy grande, si?" they asked.
"Si!" I laughed, "Pero yo soy un hombre con mucho fuerte!!"  (But I am a very strong man!) and then I flexed.
They all laughed. (Little muscles have that effect on people!!!)   I took my day pack out, and they asked what was in that?
"Oro!" (gold) I replied and they giggled again.
"Quantos anos usted?" she asked.  (treinta?  cuarenta?) How old are you? 30?  40?
I motioned higher and said, "56".  Then the mumbling started and I left so some of the other pilgrims could get registered before it was time to leave the next morning.

    That night at the aubergue, we had rain for the very first time on the trip.  Made me realize how ill prepared I am for it.  I'll need to pick up a couple more things, but one of the best evenings I've had.  While it was raining gatos y perros all of the pilgrims were either in their beds upstairs or playing games/cooking dinner in the communal kitchen, or sitting around talking.  I felt like doing none of those and sat on the front step of the aubergue watching it rain and listening to iTunes.  I was in heaven.  A couple of Spanish bikers came out and we talked for a couple of minutes about why I was entranced with the rain, when everyone else was cursing the rain... "Well, you see... I haven't seen rain in 5 months and..."

The restaurant pictured is where I had lunch and dinner.  My "waitress" was Fatima, the 6 year old daughter of the cook.  She saw me working on the computer and came over to see pictures of the trip and then she wouldn't leave.  The only way for me to get her to leave was to start asking her to solve simple math problems, like, "what is the circumference of a circle that has a diameter of 15. 2 inches.  She was totally baffled!!!  Must be use to metrics.

Earlier in the afternoon, I was bone tired but needed to charge my computer so I plugged it in and sat at a table next to the outlet.  I couldn't keep my eyes open so, being the only one in the bar, I went to sleep with my head on the table.  Dang if two nine hundred year old men decided to hold a domino tournament on the table behind me.  Every time one would play a tile, he'd slam it down and call out the number!  Needless to say, I got sporadic sleep.


After my "nap", I went walking about the Clint Eastwood town and saw many wall made of adobe.  This one reminded me of walls in Tibet that had similar walls but with flattened pancake like patties of yak poop.  We thought that it was an odd hobby to have until we found out that the women use these to cook and to heat the house with.  Pretty smart since there are no trees to burn.

   Speaking of poop... this flower (holly hock??) must be an adherent to the "bloom where you are planted" as it is growing in a sewer basin.  See...there is beauty in everything.  Sometimes you just have to wade through...stuff... to see it.

Along the Camino, there are several rest stops which seem to come about at the exact right moment.  Today was the "rock in the shoe" day.  It seemed that I couldn't go fifty feet, er sorry...16 meters, without getting a rock in my shoe.  No matter how much I tried to ignore it, the little voice in my brain would say, "You're going to get a blister.  Take the time to stop and take it out... or you are going to be  sorry!!'
    I rolled about 13 of the 19 k today.  Gave my back a rest.  Someone joked that I looked like I missed my flight or that the shuttle between airport terminals was broken.  It sure makes life easier, especially since the Camino was the road today.

 The green thing hanging from the pack is my towel.  My $35 towel, that dries mucho rapid!!  Worth every penny!  I'd rather lose my backpack than that towel.  (ever try drying off with a backpack??)

The entry sign to the town of Reliegos, which is in front of a bodega which is used to store wine. vegetables, and bratty kids.  I would like to see the inside, but they are all locked up tighter than a drum.
   Reliegos is famous for something else.   In 1948, a meteorite slammed into Earth in "downtown".  The meteorite was over 20 lbs. and dug a hole over a foot deep.  I believe that if I was standing near there and it smashed into the ground next to me, God would have forgiven me for saying WTF!!!!???!
I mean really, I think even God would have been laughing at seeing me jump out of my skin.

 I had to put this in.  I saw some seriously whacked graffiti today, but this one made me laugh.  "Free Leon!" and "Leon pais" = Someone wants the city of Leon to be an independent country.  Okay so let's see, Barcelona, Basque, Galicia, Valencia and now Leon all want their independence.... If I was the President, I'd hire one of the 40% unemployed to be my official Secretary of the Car Starting Department!

    When the Camino IS the road, or right next to it, then I try to roll. Today was a roller day.  I was awoken too early this morning by "hurry uppers".  These are pilgrims who hurry up and leave in the morning, at about 6:00 to beat the heat.  Then they get to their destination and complain about nothing to do, or they are so sleepy that they take a nap.  I tell you this because, for me, sleeping is the most difficult part of the Camino.  I can handle the blisters, bruises, strains, etc, because that's what I expect from the daily grind of walking 20 - 25 k a day.  BUT, the crowded dorms, smelly bodies, oh know me, I'm a germaphobe, and anytime someone is coughing in a dorm, I feel like the cooties are flying over my head, smashing into my headboard and falling into my nostrils.  But for 5E... really??
   I made it all the way to the town of Mansilla de las Mulas.
Strange name for a town.  Hand Saddle of the Mules...  reckon it's because they have a big horse show here during the year.   What is a hand saddle??  I'm not sure I want to know the answer to that question!  I had no intention of staying here.  I arrived at 12:30 and decided to get a drink at this aubergue.  It's called El Jardin del Camino - The Garden of the Camino.  It is beautiful.  Real manicured green grass with tables and new facilities.  All of 5 E as well.  But the clincher was they have Wifi  (or WEE Fee as it is known in Spain).  I also got to pick out my bunk which is by the windows and has more room to go through my back pack.  Funny how something so significant can be so significant.  Kinda like "minor surgery" is surgery on someone else.  The other clincher for staying in Mansilla is the fact that there is a medieval festival tonight.  This is a merry go round that the man turns with a hand crank.

Let's can this end well.... it can't!!  Somebody is going to lose an eye!!

 This is a relatively small town, guessing under 12,000 people, but for a festival, they probably draw the surrounding villages as well.    The first thing I saw when I went to the festival was a kid swinging a sword.  I can't begin to tell you how much that bothers me.  It's a parent's nightmare and a principal's nightmare.

These were the people working and staying at our Albergue.  I like how they got into costume and enjoyed the festival.   Reminded me of Pamplona and how many people were really into it.

  I walked off the square and heard a dog barking.  Couldn't find him anywhere until I looked high up into what would be someone's attic.  Poor thing.  A Spanish couple knocked on the door and he got free.  Can you say, Gaduh!!


This drummer man seemed to be upset with the pig torturer about something...hmmm...can't imagine why????  Menacing sky...but no rain.
They had several games for kids to play, and several required them to work together to solve the problem.  The first is one where two string pull a disc up a board with holes in it.  The object is to get the disc to the top without it falling through one of the holes.  Pull to hard to the left  or right and...start all over!

The second game required holding a board with a walnut on it.  The board had holes in it and the object is to get it from one end to the other without falling through the holes. 

But the show stopper, the creme de la creme, the most adorable picture goes to...

I told you that I got a good room and cot with a gorgeous view.  Here it is.  

Forgive, forget, forge on!                                                                             Reflect, Recover, Redirect!

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

Day 22 Camino de Santiago July 27th El Burgo Ranero

Happy Birthday Uncle Luther - Thanks for all you did.  I only hope that I can do for others what you did for me.  For those of you who never met my Uncle, I'm sad for you, but hope there is/will be someone in your life like him.  
      Today’s route followed the road for the entire 22 kilometers.  I could have easily rolled the entire distance but walking on the road is hard on the feet but easier on the back (no pack).  Walking on the path is easier on the feet, but rougher on the back.  The view you see in this picture is pretty much the view for the last few and the next few days.  No complaints.  Perfect for thinking!

  Yes, another church!!!  This was named, uh...  “The Little Church on the Prairie”.  Again, I could be wrong.  There must be a million churches in this area and all are either being renovated or have been renovated.  

    So what does one see when one stops on the camino in a wee little town?  Well, first he finds shade and then orders some tapas, in this case, ham on bread with no cheese.  It took everything bur an Act of Congress to get the bartender to understand that I wanted cheese on it.  He looked at me as if I was asking for him to make cheese, not slice it.  Four of these for a buck!
   Next, where’s the entertainment?  Aha... Swallows on the adobe house across the street.  They fly so fast even as they approach their mud nests.  I'm sure if I could understand Swallonese, I'd be hearing them screaming, "I'm coming in hot!!  Pull up!  Pull up!"  and they always make it.  
This church is different in that it has a brick interior.  Probably won't need renovating for a couple of hundred years!!  Gotta know the Pope is saying Gratzi!  Gratzi!!

Here's a car I saw today that did not change its style in many many years.  It's a Citroen and  the nickname is the Ugly Duckling!  I saw one in Europe in 1988 and it looked just like this one!   I think it is appropriately named!!

As I left town to head to El Burgo Ranero, this was the exit sign.  Good to see that some people  inject quality when they do a job.  "Whomever you are, Mr. Sign Painter, know that some peregrine appreciates your efforts!  

I also appreciated the efforts of this farmer.  They were plums, not prunes.  Super sweet and I took about 5 or 6 and left some change.  Sometimes I'll leave a couple of coins and realize, "Wait, that was a 2 Euro and a 1 Euro coin!  That's like 4 bucks!!

“Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.” ― Dr. Seuss