Day 22 – Calzadilla de Los Hermanillos to Mandilla de las Mulas

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This morning at 6:50 I woke up and was reading my emails waiting for the morning to start. I read a great comment from John (Maximus) about a picture yesterday. He warned me to be careful or I’d be a gladiator crossing the Spanish countryside. As I read it at 7:00 the hospitelero played a wonderful war hymn with lots of hallelujahs to wake us up. I realized this was no coincidence but that today would be a call to arms. As I started my 4th week my gear was well organized and I quickly packed and was first out the door. Dark clouds were overhead. The feel of storms was in the air. I headed to the cafe to get my morning start, I’d need my strength. At breakfast I met Edward from UK that warned others not to leave in the dark, the way would be challenging. As I started in the cold gray morning the rain began to fall. As I left town I walked with a few pilgrims that looked tired and forlorn. Before long I passed Martin and Jane as the wind began to blow.

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Like a gladiator I pushed forward. The camino was reminding us that the way is not easy, it’s not a vacation, it requires determination. The wind continued to blow, the rain continued to fall. I raised my fist in the air and yelled “I will not be defeated”. This stretch of road is the longest stretch of an old Roman road used by Caesar 2000 years ago. I’m not the first gladiator to come this way. I walked for 17 km with no services or dry places to stop.

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I carried on the wind and rain trying to slow me down. Finally I found a grove of trees to shelter me from the storm. I had a snack of almonds and an orange, energy I needed.

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I had left the other pilgrims behind. They took a route to a village with a cafe but their path was along a highway. Instead I took the road less traveled and headed across the fields. In the distance I spotted an evil creature, this was the battle I was destined for….

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Alas it turns out not to be the beast. Another day.

However, I was rewarded with a stop in the rain and a peak of sun. This gladiator had weathered the storm. The battle was not won but a small victory was sweet.

Since I had persevered I played at taking photos along the road. I’m sure I looked quiet comical trying to balance my camera in the dirt and running down the road to be photographed.

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I got to the albergue in a small village surrounded by an old wall.

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It was a great place. Old wooden floors, crooked stair ways, low ceilings. Lots of character. I had a beer with the Canadian philosophy major then went back to make dinner at the albergue. Lots of pilgrims and we sat around telling stories. At one point an Asian woman said behind me does anyone have some food for a hungry pilgrim. Well my meal of beans, chorizo and onions had leftovers so I offered them to her with some bread. She sat down and it turned out she was in her third camino. She regaled us with stories of the best albergues.

Another great day. Thanks to Maximus for inspiring the day.