Day 17, Mansilla to Leon, Spail, Sept. 25, 2008

17 miles, 300 feet ascent. Feel good.

“Free Leonese Country” is spray painted on advertising signs.
Yesterday I crossed the border into the Leonese region of Spain.
Fall tint of red and yellow in leaves.

Checked into the Benedictine Convent and was warmly greeted by a nun. Payment is on a donation basis. They separate the women from the men. It doesn’t matter, as I am sure the women snore as much and as loudly as the men. I have only woken myself up once snoring, so I am part of the chorus. The bathrooms are big, clean and have hot water and a washboard type sink for washing clothes, which are hung in the courtyard to dry. The metal bunk beds are all white as are the threadbare sheets on them. It looks like an olden hospital ward or lunatic asylum.

With Jan, the Canadian woman, I explored the cathedral, crypt, and a museum chock full of medieval, leather bound, vellum books. Some were open for display. It was incredible.

We happened upon a massage office and went up for a massage from a handsome Spanish man. He was in his 30’s, stocky, curly black hair and a nice big smile. Jan went first as she was having shoulder problems, thinking her backpack is too heavy, perhaps. After her 30-minute for 30 euro massage, he worked on my feet.

I told him of my blisters and that they ached at night. He said when people walk on the flat, hard surfaces, their feet spread. It is more, and was more, comfortable walking in the mountains. Plus I had walked 84 miles across England before coming to Spain. But the terrain was often soft fields and fewer miles each day. His recommendation was to soak my feet in hot water with two aspirins dissolved in it. Then he put a hand on each foot, bowed his head and God only knows what he was doing for a moment of silence over my feet. Oh well, it did feel better. Upon leaving, I thanked him and extended my hand. He came closer and kissed each cheek. I love Spain!

Dinner with Jan and Wilson in the town square.
Evening prayer with the nuns at 9:30 pm. They lock the doors at 9:30 pm, so you had better be in by then. The chapel, the nuns singing and praying was beautiful. The oldest nun prayed for us, the pilgrims, at the end and it was translated into English. It was very touching and I would never have been able to see the chapel and nuns without staying at this convent.

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