Wed 7 Oct - Day 23: El Burgo Ranero to Puente Villarente 25km

459km walked. 326km left to walk. 

Homemade breakfast in El Burgo Ranero. Tea, orange juice, crackers and sardines in olive oil. That last ingredient was actually a lot tastier first thing in the morning that you may think. Sardines in olive oil will be breakfast again on this trip. 
Today's Camino was one of the dullest. Most of today's trail was parallel to roads although the road was busy only for the last 6km or so. Still, flat landscape, not much to look at and that ever present road. 

Another Camino cross but there was something different with this one. Let's zoom in...
Yes. An i- sacrifice. We live in modern times I suppose. 
The rain that had been pestering me for the last few days had stopped and the wind had also died down so here are another couple of dawn photos. 
Morning fog. 
The sky in the walking direction and towards Leon looked quite dramatic for a while but nothing came out of it. It soon cleared. 
I walked with the "Isle of Skye 3" for a little while, as I called them. One bloke and two ladies from that beautiful Scottish island. I have seen and chatted to them on and off for about a week. 

Political and independence slogans are never far away in northern Spain at least (don't know about southern Spain). There  is always a message of some sort. 
Several corn fields look deserted. Almost all yellow and brown and still with at least some corns on them. Why is that so?
Unemployment in Spain is apparently very high. Then you see things like this. Half finished infrastructure projects. A couple of vehicles. Wednesday morning at 10.45am. One person working, doing something in a hole in the middle of nowhere. In fact, he was the only person there from what i could see. 
And looking into the other direction of the road construction. 

Sorry, i don't understand. Why not get people here, train them first as and if required and finish roads like this. A bit like all the depression era projects in USA. 
OK moving right along...

The town of Mansilla de las Mulas looked lovely and could have been a contender for tonight's stay. Although I was there way too early at 11.30am. 

This was a lovely pilgrim statue...
...until the Spanish bikegrinos put bike helmets on the people and took photos.

OK it looked quite funny. 
Another pilgrim monument in Mansilla de las Mulas. 
I had to put my old sunburnt hand there...
I passed one of the backpack transport vans in Mansilla de las Mulas. There were a lot of backpacks in there and i saw two people carrying in a whole bunch of backpacks. Well, each to their own...
Yes, Mansilla de las Mulas was a lovely looking place. This was the road out west and i then realized that there was a wall around it. 

Approaching today's destination Puente Villarente, the first hostel you see is the one below. 

Hmm... The guide book describes it as "...a medieval pilgrim hospital which operated a donkey ambulance for sick pilgrims into Leon".

That sounded like bad karma so I passed. 
Close to the puente / bridge were these H and I "things". I have no idea what they are supposed to symbolize. 
There was a new pilgrim / cycle / pedestrian bridge across the river parallel to the old one which presumably gave the town its name. 
Some interesting Camino / Puente Villarente art. 
Tonight's stay was at Albergue San Pelayo. It didn't look much from the road. In fact, there was a very strong smell of farm animals doing business in the air. 
However, once inside, the albergue was huge and impressive. It looked a bit like an alpine retreat. A few pics:

The common area is a big room to relax. In addition to restaurant and cooking area. 
The backyard. 
I had "menú del peregrino" which was OK but after yesterday's top meal fell well short. 

Hanging in the common area chatting to other pilgrims and that's the end of today. 

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