2014 Walking the Way

Day 26: Easy As Empanada (Spanish Pie) Day Astorga to Rebanal del Camino 20K

Lilly didn’t have a good night. She had dreams of former manipulative bosses, of bringing a tiger to staff meetings and of friends being tired of having her around. I slept deeply until 5:00 and then on and off until 6:30 when I got us up. 

By 8:00 we were in the coffee shop of the hotel having Americanos, then by 8:30 were heading on out to another beautiful day on the Way. The temp was again in the 30s but with each hour it warmed up by almost 20 degrees until it was a perfect 70 degrees for most of the day. 

On the way out of town a woman handed Lilly a flyer advertising a restaurant in one of the upcoming villages that offered organic breakfasts. This caught her attention and when we reached the town an hour an a half later the proprietress welcomed us to enjoy breakfast at her place. Lilly had just been talking about wanting granola yesterday, and when we saw one of the items was homemade muesli we jumped on it. Big bowls with milk and fruit. Delicious! To be having comfort food that was good for you. 

The woman chatted us up while we ate, telling us how the Camino was getting busier and busier, not as much fun to walk anymore but good for her business as more and more pilgrims are vegetarians or health conscious. She had already run out of her green smoothies for the day. We were happy as clams and spent a leisurely hour enjoying the food outside in the warmth of the morning sun. While there several pilgrims stopped by to purchase sandwiches or drinks for the road. We too left with a panini-like sandwich with fresh tomatoes, greens and peppers inside. 

While we were there I noticed one of the pilgrims who’d stopped was carrying her pack in a very unbalanced way. I conjectured it was having an adverse effect on her walk. When we later saw her again at another stop and I mentioned it to her saying should she be willing I could adjust her pack to be more comfortable. She was more than willing and between Lilly and I we got her all situated. And with gratitude she noticed a difference right away. 

Having one’s backpack correctly packed, strapped and worn properly makes all the difference for long distance walks. Because I learned so much about what not to do on my last walk, I am now an “expert” on how to fit it so its comfortable. Every day I see pilgrims with packs listing to the right or left or slung to low or worn too high. It is a very nice feeling to help a pilgrim in a way that makes their journey easier. 

The walk today for both Lilly-Barb and I was the best yet. The kilometers sailed by smoothly without pain or effort. We were both in the zone. This is what one hopes for when walking the Way. That place where it all comes together in peace and harmony. Nothing like it or as Lilly says: “it doesn’t get any better than this!” 

Most of the pilgrims today were in the gray to white haired end of the continuum. We marvel and admire those that undertake this long journey. All shapes and sizes and ages of people are here on the Camino. It is inspiring to see and that these folks see no limits to what they can do though today there were several who were limping along. It is truly a global community making this journey together to a destination that may have a different significance for each of us yet ties us all together. 

We stopped for lunch and ate our panini sandwich and the delicious pears that were Lil’s choice for dessert last night and saved for today. They were sweet and perfectly firm. Simple little things like this are pure magic on the Camino because we see how taken care 

of we are in everyway. The woman whose pack we’d fixed walked by much happier than she’d been earlier in the day. Another pilgrim told us it was 5K to our next stop at Rabanal Del Camino. Not far now as the day’s walk had been smooth and easy. 

Gradually climbing elevation we reached Rabanal, around 3:00, now being high above the Maseta plane. Tomorrow we’d be climbing to the highest point on the Camino Francais and then make our way down into Glacia by Tuesday. 

Today we were on the front end of town, and our Posada was the first place to greet you on coming into the village. We had a warm welcome and were taken to a great room with royal purple covers and light green walls with French doors that opened onto a small balcony. The bathroom had a fabulous tub complete with bubble bath soap! 

When traveling through France the tubs, when at all available were too small for my frame, yet here in Spain almost all have been wonderful for me to soak in. As I have said….Lil and Will are being spoiled and pampered on the Way. And it’s totally fine as it is helping us complete this amazing journey by allowing us to take the best care we can of our dear selves. 

On settling in I declared that I was going to take a nap and did so for an hour and a half, deeply and fully. On waking I took my bubble bath and soaked easing stress and tension from my body. Oh…baths and the Camino go well together. Like food, a bath is never more appreciated. 

Clothes washed and both rested we went to a 7:00 service of Benedictine monks singing Gregorian Chants in an ancient 11th century church. The place was full of pilgrims. The service lovely as 6 monks sang together. Included was a time for pilgrims from different countries to read scripture in their own language. I found myself going into a deep meditative state and imagined being there as a Knights’ Templar, singing these songs with my brethren knights while the pilgrims listened and prayed with us. 

After the service we wandered around this ancient stone village. Rabanal del Camino is a place we’d both like to come back to. It is on the list of our favorite stops. Not only beautiful in itself, the setting high above the plane with snow capped ranges at it’s back makes this little village a special energy place that’s lovely to be in. Like some of the other places on the Camino I felt at home and familiar here. We both are in awe of Spain and how it continues to surprise us with is depth and beauty, it’s old grandeur and modern hospitality, its refined cultivation and sweet simplicity. 

I thought of my brother Rob today as we walked up the old flag stone street, running through the center of town, past stone buildings, constructed long ago, small structures perfect in form, lining the incline, and imagined how much he would appreciate this village. It reminded me of Conques, another town in France he liked very much. A Medievalist at heart and by education, I believe he’d enjoy the whole journey of the ancient Camino as it might speak to his spirit in this same way it has mine. 

On the way back to our Posada we found some green grass and stretched. A couple of ladies stopped and chatted while we did our practice. They too were from Australia, starting in Leon and going to Santiago in two weeks. Both in their late fifties they weren’t in great shape by any means yet here they were taking this great adventure together. It was their third day and they were doing well. 

Our Posada was run by a family. The third family operation we’ve stayed in that we’re aware of. It’s a good feeling to see the family members all work together. In Villavante’s hostel there were three generations. There’s a cooperative spirit here in Spain. We noticed it at the hotels too. Everyone pitches in when something needs doing. 

With the increased pilgrim traffic many of these villages that once were dying are now coming back to life. Furthermore the quality of lodgings and accommodations has significantly improved. Pilgrims for the most part of well cared for on the Camino. 

Dinner was rice with stir fried vegetables and creamed vegetable soup. Both were light and nourishing and delicious. Again another piece of magic on the Way: food that we crave appears! For dessert a light homemade crepe with chocolate sauce and filling, perfectly accompanied by a solo coffee so I could blog tonight. 

Now I have and so can say once again: 

Buenas Noches Amigos!


Spanish Bell tower. UW colors. 


Eating organic on the Way. Spanish roses. 


Cowboy bar on the Camino. Stone Wall and stone mountains. 


The cart my mother imagined for me! Yet another shot of a stork on a bell tower. 


coming to town. Hosteria in Rabanal. Will at refugio. 


Rabanal del Camino. 

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