The Senda can be a difficult beast! While a flat stage, and supposedly easy to cover the miles, the monotony of the flat “autopista de peregrino” can be numbing, and that is not only for the mind! The path can be quite difficult for the feet and legs, the surface hard and unrelenting!
I have a tendency to carry too much stuff – just in case! I must have been a boy scout in a previous life as I am prepared for most eventualities. On the Camino, I should have been less prepared as each step is weighed down by that which is on my back. It is a heavy load. As the winds blew across the barren landscape, each step became heavier and heavier. With little to look at beyond the agricultural lands and occasional small stream, it is no wonder that the mind wandered to the heavy load and the footsteps that appeared to thump thump thump along, each step more laborious and incredibly heavier! Daydreaming about a bed in the next town carried me through the last few kilometres.
It was a challenge to keep moving forward, a number of rest areas appeared that beckoned to me – stop here, take the load off your back! Rest a while. The only problem – I knew that stopping would mean that arriving at my destination would only be later. With record numbers of pilgrims on the Camino, I wanted to ensure a bed and did not want to stop! I was also afraid, if I did stop, my feet may not continue! Surely they would soon go on strike – not taking another step. With the wind in my face, all I could do was push on and hope for the kilometers to come to an end soon!
My walking partner, a Spanish man who I met just outside the town of Fromista, called ahead to book a room or bed in Mansilla de las Mulas – but already the town was booked out! It was not even noon! My feet were already screaming out in pain and I was daydreaming of them being cut off and replaced! Disheartened, all I could do was literally trudge along and hope to find something in Reliegos however the Brierley book suggesting only one albergue was in town!
What a relief as, like a mirage, an albergue appeared! Even better – it was brand new and beautiful! Apparently, only 1 year old – I have to say – it was my oasis in the Camino desert! We were taken up to the room to see if it was ok, but there was no need – I already knew it was perfect! It was even more perfect when I saw the gorgeous room – only standard beds – no bunk beds! The bathroom and shower – a picture of exactly what a girl needed after 20+ kms walking the Camino de Santiago! The shower had a great space so that your clothes stayed dry while you showered – a welcome relief after the interesting origami done in some albergues to keep my clothes dry while showering in such tight quarters!
And to think, all this and it can only got better – after a shower and lie down, I came down to the bar to have a glass of wine, write in my journal and relax. The tapas available were amazing! These people really know how to make a pilgrim smile! Can’t wait to see what they serve for the pilgrim’s dinner – I may never leave!
Albergue: Piedras Blancas 2 in Reliegos. Phone: 987 330 094 – while not an end town for the major stages (stapes) along the Camino, well worth the stop! Everything is so fresh and new – a quiet Oasis on the walk to Leon.