To El Burgo. Nope, I meant Reliegos. No, to Mansilla…

(No Wi-Fi tonight, but I’m going to try to get at least a few pics to upload. I will share the rest from today in another post when I have Wi-Fi.)

Ok. It was a lovely day. It really was!

And I learned yet another important lesson from the Camino: make arrangements when it’s very important.

Those who know me personally know that I am a planner/schemer/uber-organizer. I decided the other day to try to let go of this planning instinct and go with the flow when I was in Carrion and noticed all of the other hostels and inns that looked cooler than where I was staying (but for the record my hostel was pretty cool). I thought to myself that tonight and tomorrow would be a good opportunity to practice being more laid back by rolling into the village I wanted to stop in and find a place just by asking around and walking through doors.

After all, I have been watching other pilgrims do it for almost 3 weeks now. This is a skill I need to learn. No big deal; nothing bad will happen.

First, let me tell you that I had a very pleasurable day walking in weather that was remarkably cooler. I walked with Chuck from California the whole way, with Paul from Wales joining us for the first part:

And then we met another Paul from California for the second part. The second Paul actually stayed in the same room as the first Paul last night, so the second Paul got to share with us how much we enjoyed the first Paul. It was pretty funny.

It was fascinating listening to Chuck and Paul from California talk shop the whole way into El Burgo since they both are in agriculture. I learned more about pesticides, regulations, and the ag industry than I may ever have use for– but it was really interesting.

The conversation was so good today, it seems that we just flew down the path. I even got to teach Chuck a little about pilgrimage in Middle English literature (yes, we talked Canterbury Tales, Thomas a Beckett, and Mrs. Kempe). Instead of sharing stories to pass the time, I shared the stories of stories of pilgrims sharing stories — the irony is not lost on me.

So we rolled into El Bergo Ranero fairly early in the afternoon, but the sun was getting hot. This was a tiny, dusty little town. The three of us popped into the first bar in the village and sat down to have beers before getting accommodations. Chuck already had his booked. Paul from California decided to walk on to the next town. I pulled out my phone and started looking at Booking.com. 100% booked tonight. That’s all right I went to TripAdvisor. 100% booked again. These two men that I had been walking with pulled out their phones and started looking up places as well. I really appreciate them helping me, but I was confident I would find something just by walking around town. It’s OK, I told them, I will find something. I’m sure there are lots of inns and casa rurals that were just not online. No big deal!

We said our goodbyes to Paul, and I said goodbye to Chuck telling him not to worry. I’ll meet up with him for dinner I’m sure. If nothing else, I will just go stay at the hostel he booked. It was a little bit more expensive than I wanted to pay, but that’s fine, I’ll do it.

No, there was nothing. I checked at every inn, hostel, pension, and the motel at the truck stop by the highway. All booked. I then decided tonight was the night I sleep in the albergues again. The first albergue I went to was closed and locked. The second and third albergues were full. No room at the inn for me.

Oh $”/+!

So, I walk to the next town. There were a ton of other pilgrims also walking to the next town so I wasn’t alone, but it was long and hot.

The next village of Reliegos was even tinier! Everyone who was in front of me was lined up at the one albergue trying to get a bed. Oh man.

Then I saw it on the horizon — Mansilla, a good-size village about 3 km further. I knew I would have better luck getting a place in a large village, so I went for it.

The sun was blazing hot, though. I walked by a house on the outskirts of Reliegos with a taxi parked out front and a taxi sign on the fence. What the heck, time to save my skin from the sun again. I called the number, told him “no Español” and “Mansilla.” He asked in perfect English: “where are you now?”

“I’m outside your house.”

This kid who could not have been much older than my son Elliot popped out of the house, threw my backpack into the trunk, and barked “let’s go!” And I swear I am not making this part up: when he turned on the ignition, the radio was blaring George Thoroughgood’s Bad to the Bone. We took off with a rooster spray of gravel behind us like a Seafair hydroplane.

Fastest 3 km ever!

Most of the inns and hostels in Mansilla were also completely full. I did manage to find a room at the other end of town close to the starting point of the Camino in the morning, so it worked out.

I have reservations through Sunday night now. No more of that nonsense. Sometimes my need to be a psycho-planner does pay off.

To sum up this evening in Mansilla: The church is 19th century and not medieval, there are medieval walls still standing, there was not a lot that was open, and I shared a table with a lovely American family of three for dinner tonight (hello Don, Royce, and Wendy!). I also got to talk with Al on the phone.

Also, this guy was tethered in front of a house, but he actually barked at me to come over and pet him. Thank you, buddy!

I am much closer to Leon now than I thought I would be, but I cannot change my reservations for the hostel in the city. Therefore, tomorrow will be a much shorter day since I will walk just to the city limits and stop. The choice is either do that or cancel Leon altogether and just walk through it. I’ve never been to Leon before and I may never come back, so I have to see it.

Tomorrow is (outskirts of) Leon or bust! Chuck will be looking for me for breakfast in El Burgo. I’m so sorry I had to move on, my friend!

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