Saturday, June 07, 2014

Mansilla de las Mulas

So much for Acuweather's prediction of mostly clear skies. This was the view from my truck stop hotel window this morning at 7am. The rain woke me at 5am and the only thing moving outside was a joyful wagtail, tip-toeing through the puddles.
It was still raining when Kathy came to collect the bag at 7h15 so I gave her the Altus to take with her.
I phoned Jacotrans to ask for a taxi to Mansilla but he said he was 'completo ' so I asked the fellow at the cafeteria to phone for a taxi. He called a Roberto and told me he would be there in 10 min. I had to rush upstairs to get my things together and go back downstairs. Kathy was still there so we waited together for the taxi which would get me to Mansilla in 15 min, while it would take her another 4 or 5 hours in the rain.
Its a funny thing 'time'. One could hire a car in Pamplona and drive the 700km to Santiago in a day.  Pilgrims take a month or more. Both are covering the same distance but for the pilgrims time is stretched out from dawn to almost sun down every day.
Then there is our place in time. You are very concious of being a modern day pilgrim on this ancient pilgrimage road which goes back 1200 years in time.  Roman roads stretch back even further and the archaeological sites at Atapuerca remind us that humankind habitated this land over a million years ago.
For the pilgrim, time past is irrelevant.  They forget where they were just two days ago and don't know where they will in three days time. There is only today, moving like caracoles across the different landscapes of the Camino time is suspended. When they reach Santiago,  or the land of the Dark Star (as Walter Starkie described land's end at Finisterre) they will be bewildered to find that for them everything has changed but nothing is different. (The Road to Santiago )
Roberto dropped me at the Hostal San Martin and although it was very early, Ana, the owner let me in and I sat at the table in the bar/entrance and read emails etc. Most of the places have free WiFi (pronounced wee-fee in Spanish) so the first thing we do is connect to the WiFi and read and/or send messages home. 

The sun came out so I took a walk into the old town, still surrounded by some impressive walls, into the main plaza. I'd forgotten that it was Sabado - Saturday - and everything was closed. I saw a sign for the Estacion de AutoBuses which is open 24 hours a day.  I would be able to buy tickets for the next 4 days without having to go into Leon.  YAY!
I went back to the hostal and Ana showed me to my room. This is the smallest of all the rooms we have stayed in but at €25 a night, with a double bed and an en suite shower it was good value. Also they have a bar, large diningroom and outdoor terrace with a bar.
Kathy arrived and we decided to explore the 'town' -which took about 30 min. We visited 2 churches, both 18th c  not very impressive.  Then we walked to the 24 hour bus station to buy my tickets.  What was I thinking? There was a large waiting-room bar with a number of Saturday afternoon bar flies propping up the counter, but no ticket office. The barman told me you have to buy the ticket on the bus! "Are you sure? I ask him, rather suspiciously which makes him answer impatiently.  "What time is the bus to Leon tomorrow? I ask. He shows me the timetable on the wall - one bus only at 17h50 - which confirms my information. So, tomorrow I will rake a taxi to Leon where I hope to purchase tickets for the remaining 4 places on this reconnaissance walk.

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