On my way … Day 24 … Astorga to Rabanal del Camino

Tuesday, June 5, 2018, 22 km … 14 miles 

Today was a normal day on the Camino. Fourteen miles is about an average day. We are definitely out of the Meseta. There will be a gradual incline all day.  As we follow the road for most of the day, towns will be available every three to four kilometers.  

We are walking to Rabanal del Camino. One of my favorite little towns along the Camino and one of my favorite things to do is to join the Monks for Vespers. To hear the Gregorian chant is amazing and something I would tell everyone not to miss. In fact, I think I shared that with everyone.  

A little bit of history: 

In the 12th century, the Knights Templar protected the village and are thought to have provided protection for pilgrims over Mount Irago. (Iron Cross) It is also thought that the Templars built the 12th century Romanesque Church Santa Maria de la Asuncion, however, it was extensively renovated during the 18th-century.  Inside the church, there is a 12th-century image of St Blas and 18th-century retablos. 

The church is now run by Benedictine monks. The monastery is beside the church and next door to Refugio Gaucelmo a hostel run by the Confraternity of St James in the UK.  This is where we are hoping to stay tonight. It is a donativo.  

The guide book says, “Rabanal can feed you, but it can’t clothe you for the mountain weather, which can be unpredictable at the best of times.” ~ John Bierly

We were feeling the unpredictable weather.  

We woke early and it was one of those, I don’t want to get out of the cover’s morning. I could feel the chill on my face and I just wanted to lay cuddling my blanket a little longer, but I knew this was not an option. The hustle and movement of all the other pilgrims told me it was time to move.  

Astorga to Murias de Rechivaldo, 4 km 

We stepped out the door it was chilly and cloudy. Cale never found a poncho last night, so he definitely will need one soon. The sky was full of clouds, soon to be rain clouds.  

The sky was beautiful and the air was crisp. We scooted past the Cathedral and Gaudi’s palace and made our way out of Astorga. 

We had 4 km until the town where we would eat breakfast. Not too bad, just following the road. Most of this part was on pavement or on a trail next to the road. We were moving at a good pace, everyone felt good. As I said, the body aches and foot pain usually start later in the day. It was quiet, each of us just walking.  

We arrived and found a table to have our breakfast. Again, many pilgrims and many of our friends. It’s always fun entering a café because you will hear the cheers of pilgrims greeting their friends. Who they might not have seen for a while or they just left them this morning at the Hostel. Either way, the excitement of greeting each other is sheer joy. 

It has been an easy morning, flat up to this town. The incline starts as we leave Murais de Rechivalda.  

To Santa Catalina de Somoza, 4.3 km 

Today was a quiet day, each of us just walking. Quiet with a little chatting.  

This beatitude sums it up: 

“Blessed are you, pilgrim, if you can walk along this Camino completely out of yourself and doing nothing at all.” 

We arrived in Santa Catalina de Somoza and made our quick pitstop. I always try to rest for a while at these stops even if we don’t get food. Usually, these in-between food stops consist of buying something in return for their bathroom. Aquarius and a snack will do.  

Next stop, El Ganso, 4.3 km 

As you can see this day consisted of plenty of towns and breaks. For the most part, the rest of the Camino will be this way. Still no poncho for Cale. Maybe the next town. We were surprised we couldn’t find one in Astorga. I guess with the weather, they were selling out of them. Of course, he could have purchased an expensive one but he didn’t want to spend the money because he knew he would be leaving it in Santiago.  

The wind is picking up and the temperature is dropping. As we walk into the wind, we just drop our heads and keep walking.  

I slipped into prayer as we were walking.  

“All is known in the sacredness of silence.” ~ Rumi 

We arrived at El Ganso, which is known for its famous Cowboy Bar. We snuck in for the bathroom and pictures but moved on. There is a wonderful café just on the other side of town. Let’s go there it won’t be as crowded. 

This little café is a gem, Hostel Gabino! Great atmosphere, great food, and even a little grocery store.  

Cale actually found a poncho here!! Win! 

Final Stretch 

It was a beautiful part of the day. We ran into Sean and Nithyaa and walked with them for a while. We hadn’t seen them in a few days.  

Then! Cale had challenged the clouds and they answered. Thanks, Cale!

The trail turned to a muddy uphill fun time. Weaving our way around the puddles and trying not to slip on the rocks. We were almost at Rabanal del Camino.

The rain stopped but the chilly wind was still blowing. We enjoyed the farmland as we turned to make our way into Rabanal. 

Rabanal del Camino 

I love Rabanal del Camino. The quaintness is just so adorable. We walked up the main street to the Monastery hoping to get a bed at the Donativo Hostel. As we passed the restaurant at the beginning of town, we saw some of our friends. The usual conversation happened, are you staying here or moving on to the next town? They were moving on along with Sean and Nithyaa.  

It was only 1:00. I love when we arrive in town early. Plenty of time for a siesta and anything else. 

We made our way to the Hostel and they had beds. Yay! It was funny. As we were checking in, we first asked if she had five beds. She said, yes! She proceeded to check us in one at a time. We explained to her that we were a group and would like to be together. She said a group this size? How long have you been walking together? We told her since Pamplona. She was amazed that we were still together without fighting or disagreeing on things.  

It’s really simple, no ego and no one wanting to be in charge. We all just went with the flow.  All of us were just pilgrims walking and enjoying the moment, being present. We were kind and compassionate to each other and respected each other.  We were blessed to be walking together! 

Benedictine Monastery 

We had done the usual since arriving in Rabanal. Siesta, lunch, grocery store, and laundry. With some extra time before dinner, I was off to Vespers at 7:00. The rest passed on joining me and said they would wait for the Compline and Blessing of Pilgrims at 8:30.  

I had been to this Vesper service before on another pilgrimage and I loved it. I arrived a little early, took the prayers in English, and slid into a pew. The little chapel was very chilly. It was dark and damp. I closed my eyes and rested with Our Lord.  

As I sat quietly, I heard a gentleman say, “excuse me” I opened my eyes to see a Monk standing in front of me. He asked, “if I spoke English and if so, would I like to do the reading for the service?” With a deep swallow, “I said, yes!” 

After saying yes, I was thinking, wait, what? Are you sure about this?  

I then started to get excited and nervous all at the same time, then he asked me to join him in the chairs upfront. 

Wait, what? 


I walked up on the altar and he proceeded to give me the readings and showed me how to do everything. 

I sat next to him and was so nervous. The other pilgrims started arriving and the little chapel started to fill up. 

As I sat there, I was thinking, no one is here to take my photo. Oh well, memory will be fine. And what a memory it is. I was shaking in my seat and thanking Jesus at the same time. What a blessing to be called to do this.  

I sat in this chair, where so many Monks have sat before me. The history and all that has happened in this little chapel. Tears started flowing.  

The monks started chanting and I was following on my sheet. I read the reading and then sat back down. I was next to the Monks for the entire service. 

Wow, what a blessing. What an experience. Thank you, Jesus. 

I did manage to take a photo of my reading, and the front of the chapel. 

With all that has happened along this Camino, this reading couldn’t be more perfect.  

After Vespers, I joined the rest and we had a quick dinner and then back to the chapel for the 8:30 Compline and Blessing of the pilgrims. I couldn’t stop talking about my experience.  

As we arrived for the 8:30 service, it was a little more crowded than the Vesper service. We squeezed into a pew and just then a Monk came up to Cale and asked if he would like to do a reading. I kid you not. Cale was then escorted up front and shown everything to do.  

This time someone was there to take a picture. 

I started to cry tears of joy, just seeing my son up there and knowing that I just experienced the same thing was so overwhelming. 

Thank you, Jesus, what an amazing grace bestowed upon both of us. 

My Journal: 

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was “thank you” that would suffice.” ~ Meister Eckhart 

Day 24 … Astorga to Rabanal del Camino, Tuesday, June 5, 2018, 22 km … 14 miles 

Cold, windy, and raining 

We left out of Astorga and made our way to Rabanal. One of my favorite towns, with the Monastery and Vespers. It was a beautiful but cold day. Sharing our time with others and having quiet prayer time. It’s fun meeting up with people we haven’t seen in days. We all share the same joy and pain. This bonds us. Met up with Sean and Nithyaa. Started to rain near the end, cold and windy. 

So blessed tonight. I was asked to do a reading at the Vesper service. So unbelievable, sat with the Monks on the altar. As I sat there, I thought of the history. These Vespers and Monks have been there since the 13th century and here I was sitting in the very same seat and joining them in prayer. I felt the presence all around me.  

Wow! Thank you! 

Buen Camino

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