Day 16, Sahagun to Mansilla, Sept. 24, Spain

22 miles, flat. 8 am to 3:30 pm.

Fabulous fall day with blue sky and light breeze.
Plains of Spain are covered with yellow fields of grain stubble.
Sunflowers in the fields look at the ground, at the end of their bloom.
Mountain to the north, along the coast, are visible.
Picnic lunch of salami, cheese and bread, peach and chocolate and almond bar.
Storks nest on church steeples.
Walk on a nice dirt road, shaded by long rows of young beeches. They look planted just for giving the pilgrims shade.

Pilgrims on bicycles zip by me on the road adjacent to the nice trail. I think unpilgrim-like thoughts about them.
About 3 pm a woman on a bicycle, coming from a garden, gave me six big ripe tomatoes! I ate one immediately and shared the others at the hostal. They were delicious. Nothing like this would happen to a bicyclist. They go too fast.
Pass an open warehouse with a front loader filled with old bread loaves.

Walking in town past a bar window, I see the cyclists inside sipping beer. Unpilgrim-like thoughts return, but then I spitefully remember my fresh tomatoes and they don’t have any.

Checked into the old hostal, with charming slanting well-worn wooden floors. Hand-washed my hiking clothes, hung them to dry in the courtyard, which was enclosed. The walls and windows sported baskets of red geraniums. It was lovely. Took a short siesta, visited with a roommate, a young man from Korea who was also resting. Three English women were chatting, but left so others could doze.

Then I went out to explore the little town. Passing through the old stone walls coming in, I decided it needed further investigation. Much of the wall is left, although not intact. The stones are all round brownish-gold river rocks. The town has spread beyond the walls, which is bordered by a walking path and lit at night.

I went in a spectacular Ethnological Museum, at a special pilgrim price of 1 euro. There were no other pilgrims there. Thankfully, each display had an English version. Local traditions, farm implements, peasant clothing for dress and everyday work, musical instruments, pictures of old farm structures, videos of traditional dances and music were treated as though they were jewels, being dispayed in glass cases. My favorite part was the display and photos of the four different ethnological groups of people in northern Spain. In some villages I noticed the people looked distincly alike and it gave an explantion why and where some originated from.

Hostal 4 Euros and dinner was 10 Euros.

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