Day 19 - Mansilla de las Mulas

June 15, 2014 - Distance Traveled: 24.5 km -

Today we made our way to Mansilla de las Mulaa via the Calzada Romana which is the most still intact stretch of the Roman road left in Spain. We were walking in the footsteps of Emperor Augustus. It was a flat, shadowless stretch of the Way. We left early in the morning again and walked by the light of the morning moon.

It took nearly 18km to arrive at the the first town of the day, Reliegos. I was surprised to see Annemarie there. She had blister problems the last time I saw her and had decided to take a rest day. I was sure she was a day behind us. Once again I am reminded, you never know who or when people will show back up.

She is not the only one who is suffering physically. Helen's knees are screaming, so we even though we are only an hour away from our final destination we decided to take a break.

Before moving on, we waited on the outskirts of Reliegos for everyone to ready themselves to depart. While there, Amy gave me the, "I am doing great" sign. It has been a pleasure to get to know this young lady over the last week. She is creative, kind, and cares deeply for her friends. She also has a very compassionate heart towards all of God’s creatures. She once hid a wounded bird in her coat in order to smuggle it on to a train, so she can take it home and nurse it back to health. You learn a lot about people when you walk this many kilometers together.

When we started walking again, those who had taken the other route converged with us on the the edge of the town. This made for a large group of pilgrims walking the last 5 km together to Mansilla de las Mulas. It raised our energy level and our spirits as we all walked together. To aid Helen's knees, Father Stephen, an Army Chaplin, who has been walking with a group from who has been keeping pace with us, took her pack and carried it, along with his own, the last few kilometers. All of this worked to help Helen tough it out. I am proud that she pushed through.

When we finally got to our destination for the day, Annemarie and Sergio were waiting at a table. Emilie and I sat down and shared a cafe con leche.

Rachel and Amy are supporting one another as they stretch out the tightness of the days walk.

Our packs are holding our place in the que at the albergue.

The shoes we wear are so important to the people who walk the Camino that get their own little bunk beds in the albergues. If the feet which fit into each of these pairs of shoes made it to Santiago, the footwear pictured traveled 10,500 miles. The news papers stacked in the corner are for rainy days. You stuff it in your shoes to help them dry out. Thankfully, no such regimen was needed today.

Dinner in Mansilla de las Mulas was a meal filled with way too much food and wonderful company. If you have been following the progression this blog, you know everyone here, except for the man on my left. He is Jonathan’s father, Andrew. While in his sixties, he never seemed to suffer from a lack of energy, enthusiasm for walking the Camino or being with people. I imagine this year of walking is bitter sweet for him, because it marks the end of a multi-year journey with his son, and yet, it will also be the year he finally makes it to Santiago. While they say they will not be walking the Camino next year, I think they are already thinking of what other adventure they can share. It is great to see a father who is so proud of his son, and a son who seems to delight in being with his dad.

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