Days 20 & 21: Mansilla de las Mulas to León to Villar de Mazarife

After a quiet and peaceful evening in the town of Mansilla, we allowed ourselves to sleep in a little bit and have a slow breakfast. Didn’t even hit the Camino until 8:30am which is super late! It was only 18km to the busy city of León and I couldn’t find any reason to try and get in super early in the morning. It was a really pleasant (and speedy!) walk into the city. My friend Drew and I have really gotten the pace up, to about 5.5 kilometers per hour (with little breaks). It was an excellent walk, nice brisk morning with gorgeous sunshine to warm our backs. I particularly enjoyed the Camino that day because Drew and I were talking about the ideas I have for Merriweather Brewing Co. one day and it was awesome to get his feedback! It made me excited for the future, but still very nervous about how to even get started on something as big as starting a business. For those of you that have no idea what I’m talking about, I started homebrewing about a year and a half ago, because I had this crazy idea I might like to open my own brewery/performance venue/art center. Brewing has become something I love and I could see myself finding the right location (probably in Northern California) and the right people to help me brew, make the space, find the talent, and bring in the love. All I really need to do is take the initiative to actually build a business plan, find the location, find the people, find the funding. It’s easy, right? One thing I have learned from The 33 Project so far is that if you are passionate about something, you can find the right people who will see that honesty and that devotion, and they will help you. Passionate and dedicated people thrive! For me, it is simply getting over all those fears and the inner voices that tell me it’s too hard, it’s too much, you can’t start a brewery… etc. Having time out here walking the Camino every day, it’s easy to start thinking about things a little more simply and realize that anything is possible. So… that. That is a thing that is on my mind yesterday and today! And by the way, I came across another gigantic wild hops plant along the Camino today!

So León. Wow, what a great place! Right as we entered the city, I could feel the positive energy. The smiles, the “Buen Caminos!” All the love for peregrinos that I usually only see in small towns. It was a great start to the day. But because we powered through the walk, we were pretty hungry. We found a nice little restaurant in the square near where we were staying, and I loved my salad… but, well, let’s just say that Drew has bad luck with burgers. A short walk around the town and I discovered a brewery! I met the manager and he told us to come back later when they were open. (Side note: we did come back in the afternoon but they were closed for siesta. I have a love/hate relationship with siesta. We eventually made it in the evening.) We then got into an Airbnb for the night. Drew had actually booked it for himself to have a quiet oasis away from pilgrims, but then he invited me to join in since it had four bedrooms and a kitchen! And… drumroll… a BATH! I took a bath!!! After a relaxing afternoon, we got ingredients from the market and I made my best interpretation of my chicken and pepper fajitas with the Spanish ingredients we found. I was craving some spice since nothing I have had here has any amount of heat, but we couldn’t find ANYTHING in about eight markets that could spice it up. Oh well – it was still great. After dinner we went out to the brewery with another pilgrim friend and then Pablo, the manager, let me taste a bunch of their beers before I settled on a can of their “New England Pale Ale” – it was tasty but not at all New England-y, hehe. But still the best beer I’ve had so far in Spain! The brewery in León is called “Four Lions,” if you make it that way.

This morning started off right with homemade scrambled eggs with cheese and tomatoes and avocado slices. Then I was on my way, solo again, to the next town. This was a really late start today as I let myself sleep in until 8am this morning. So it was a tough walk with no shade in the atypically excruciating October sun. I enjoyed my solo time and even allowed myself some music for the first time along the Camino. I find it extremely satisfying to belt Kelly Clarkson along the Camino. Around 2pm I finally made it to my albergue for the night, in Villar de Mazarife. Right when I walked up to the house and saw the address “33,” I knew it was the place for me! It’s crazy that for the first time, I don’t know anyone at this albergue. I’m actually really relishing the quiet time, especially since I have an awful sore throat and I’m a little nervous I picked something up along the Camino. I brought my Thieves oil throat spray so hopefully that will clear it up! Tonight I’m going to enjoy the vegetarian meal that my albergue is offering, and then early to bed as I’m planning an early start tomorrow. The walk tomorrow from Mazarife to Astorga is my longest trek of the Camino, 31.2km, or nearly 20 miles. My shoes seem to be holding up well since my stitch job the other night, and while I’ve looked in a few shops for new shoes I could buy to replace them (wearing them in gradually), no shops carry my size! But a fellow pilgrim who is an experienced walker assured me today that I had nothing to worry about with my shoes. So, rest assured family, I’m fine! Tomorrow in Astorga I plan to try and explore the sights, see the Cathedral and Palacio Episcopal (Gaudí) and then enjoy a hearty dinner with a good night of sleep. After the long walk tomorrow, the following day is the ascent into the highest point of the Camino, Rabanal, at 1,150m or 3,770ft. Should be a tough couple of days. (I’m prematurely asking your forgiveness for not blogging until after them!)

Thank you so much to everyone who has been reaching out to me with emails or texts of encouragement. I cannot tell you how much they lift me up. I have been getting song suggestions, poems, testimonials of the trials you are going through… I am feeling so connected to my people right now. Thank you. And thank you so much to all the amazing sponsors! By the way – this trip has been fullysponsored – thank you. I am blown away by the generosity of my friends and family, and even some strangers! Thank you!

Thank you to my amazing sponsors of Day 20: one of my closest friends, Brian M.; another very dear person to me in NYC, Nic E.; my a cappella buddy and another NYC angel, Zoe C.; and the lovely and talented Julia K. and her amazing husband Brian R. You guys are all fantastic and I love that the origin of all these relationships was Santa Barbara (Nic by way of Brian M., of course!). I miss SB and all the memories we had there! My Day 21 sponsors were what we lovingly refer to as “D.I.S.H.” in my family, the Strotman crew! I am so lucky to have an amazing Aunt and Godmother, Ingrid, my awesome Uncle Scot, and my lovely and sweet cousin Hannah and the super talented and kind Drew! Thank you so much!

Okay, they’re popping open the wine and slicing the bread so it seems like dinner is just around the corner. Until next time!

2 thoughts on “Days 20 & 21: Mansilla de las Mulas to León to Villar de Mazarife

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