DAY 8 June 2 2015 Mansilla de las Mulas to Leon (22 km)

Other pilgrims had warned us that this was a very tiresome stretch—same old, same old, but with traffic alongside much of the way, and the industrial part of Leon to traverse. We set out, grateful for the good weather and determined that we would make our walk enjoyable. We had some challenging philosophical topics to discuss ( challenging because we are often hold differing views 😊) and knew that these would help make the day seem to pass more quickly. At first we were pleasantly surprised—although the countryside was much drier, major irrigation set ups kept the fields of corn and red peppers green. Again attempts have been made to provide shade for Camino pilgrims by the planting of vine maples along the path.
Off to the side there were copses of reforestation with cottonwood and poplar trees planted in rows like sentinels. Wild flowers were now wild oat, fox tail, dandelion, a lovely purple mini hollyhock type flower, hillsides of Spanish lavender and the occasional splash of poppies.
This also became “stork” day. Almost every church we passed had a resident stork family. This was fascinating to us as storks in Canada are rare—in North America they may be seen at Pelee Pt.,Ontario, the southernmost spot in Canada, some southern states and Mexico. They are considered mute but do communicate by clacking their bills which can be quite raucous. Their nests are large and used year after year by the same storks. The ones we are seeing are white storks, although there are also black storks in Spain which are now on the endangered species list. Storks in a Spanish village are considered good luck😊
Despite our stork diversion and good conversation, we found we were weary upon reaching Leon. The final 2 Km were very hard.
Arriving at our accommodation (a Parador, which is an historic building like a monastery converted to a luxury hotel) we were taken aback at our lodging and most likely the concierge was, too at his bedraggled looking guests. The hotel is very nice–no shortage of amenities and the furniture and paintings in the Hostal San Marcos are worthy of a museum.
Our friend, Lisa from England joined us in the evening as she will finish her Camino before ours is done, and we know not if ever again our paths will cross. Our two pilgrim friends have each been blessings on our walk. We will miss them.

If you look closely you can see the detail of the rock work in this home. Took a lot of loving craftsmanship!
If you look closely you can see the detail of the rock work in this home. Took a lot of loving craftsmanship!
A portion of the wall circling the combined Roman and medieval town of Mansilla de las Mulas
A portion of the wall circling the combined Roman and medieval town of Mansilla de las MUlas. Most of he wall is over 30 feet tall and 10 -12 feet thick at the base, it was started over 1200 years ago!
Lavender, lavender.... Everywhere!
Lavender, lavender…. Everywhere!
Here is one of the thousands of the aqueduct gravity driven
Here is one of the thousands of the aqueduct gravity driven “pumping stations”. To cross roads and other obstacles, wanted is piped under the obstacle and then brought up – to a lower level, for distribution downstream. Well engineered and sometimes very complicated systems distribute water over miles of otherwise arid land.
Spain is a major producer of fruits, vegitables, wine, grains and beef, all which require water. Most of Spain suffers from drought conditions and so crops can only be produced where there is irrigation. We have never seen a countryside so irrigated by miles and miles of aqueducts.  60% of all the farms in Spain make up only 5% of the farm land, while 50% of the land is held by only 1% of the farm owners.
Spain is a major producer of fruits, vegitables, wine, grains and beef, all which require water. Most of Spain suffers from drought conditions and so crops can only be produced where there is irrigation. We have never seen a countryside so irrigated by miles and miles of aqueducts.

We figured that this home took a lot of work too. Turns out that these storks migrate here from North Africa , short hops as compared to some found in Denmark who fly in from South Africa!
We figured that this ‘high rise condo development’ took a lot of work too, referring to the picture of the stone house above that suddenly moved up a few spaces on me! Turns out that these storks migrate here from North Africa , short hops as compared to some found in Denmark who fly in from South Africa!
Here a bridge over 500 years old with over 20 spans, most now spanning arid land - a sign of changing water conditions in The country.
Here a bridge over 500 years old with over 20 spans, most now spanning arid land – a sign of changing water conditions in The country.
A new 'low rise' condo development.
A new ‘low rise’ condo development.
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