Astorga to Rabanal del Camino
23 kilometers – About 14 1./2 miles
We are getting stronger physically.
Leaving town in the morning is always fun. The air is cool. Expectations are high. The scenery is new.
Today was no different.
We breakfasted at our hotel, Posada Real Casa de Tepa in the old city of Astorga—–with the coolest courtyard in the world. Then it was time to hike.
Remember: We have been visiting and viewing massive majestic cathedrals. They boast architecture and hold art that is worth millions.
But today, we saw the essence of Christianity in a small, very humble church only a few kilometers into our walk. Ermita del Ecce Homo is tiny, but it turned Jackie into teary-eyed mush.
This church, which is barely mentioned in a few less read Camino books, sets along side a busy road. The Camino passes by the right side of the church. We wouldn’t have stopped except for the fact that an older gentleman was standing outside the church, obviously acting as the host.
We are so glad we did. Outside the church was written several prayers and thought provoking messages about life.
The Pilgrim’s Prayer
Jesus, my Lord, my friend
You, the icon of God,
You, fountain of communion,
Of freedom and love.
You, who are my servant,
Walk always with me.
We read it and loved it, and Jackie turned to mush.
She was so moved by the simple elegance of this tiniest of chapels that she was very deep into her thoughts for a long ways.
We have read, and understand, that everyone is moved by something on the Camino. Tears are expected, and they are welcomed and embraced.
We have both experienced them several times. The energy, excitement, exhaustion and effort all lead to emotions that we normally keep below the surface, but they come on the Camino.
They say the Camino puts people in your lives when you need them. If you need water, there is someone who can provide it. Need food, someone has an orange. Need clothing, someone has an extra shirt.
Jackie was still teary when we entered the nondescript village of Murias de Rechivaldo. And she wanted something to drink and to find the servicios.
For some reason we passed one bar, and saw a second.
While Jim was taking a few photographs of the bar’s beautiful flowers, Jackie was full bore for the bar.
She is usually reluctant to enter a bar until we have our packs in place on the terrace, and then we decide who will order our drinks.
So, her quick entry was a major change. But, the Camino helps us to do things to help us.
The bar Jackie entered so quickly, still wiping tears from her cheeks, was El Llar.
It meant nothing to either of us.
But the minute she entered and passed the proprietor, Jackie’s life was blessed.
We, along with many others who have been obsessed with the Camino de Santiago, have seen documentaries about the journey. And, one of the strong-minded people who are in at least two of them is Pilar.
Pilar is the owner of El Llar. She doesn’t sell coke. She sells vegetable/fruit smoothies, and she freely gives of herself.
She was obviously struck by Jackie’s tears, and showed concern immediately.
Pilar gave Jackie a smoothie.
“It has what you need,” she said in pretty-good European English.
She and we turned what would normally be a ten minute break into a long and wonderful conversation by the sweetest and sharpest of women. It was too deep to include here. But it was perfect.
She eats only organic. She makes her juices in her bar.
When Jim asked for one like Jackie’s juice, Pilar admonished him.
“That is for her,” she snapped. “I have one that you need.”
And she made him one. Different color, different ingredients.
Pilar and Jackie agreed on several things this morning. They both are disappointed in the cathedral fortunes. Pilar is outspoken about it.
“They sheet on people,” she said before showing a finger to the sky.
They spoke of mothers and children.
They are now best friends.
It was amazing!!
Back to the Walk
Pilar revitalized both of us and the kilometers clicked off when we finally hit the trail again.
We passed the Camino-famous Cowboy Bar in El Ganso, and finished the day short of the climb to Cruz de Ferro–a special cross where Pilgrims lay stones.
We should be there between 9:00 and 10 am tomorrow,
This evening we visited the Gaudi Palace in Astorga, along with the Astorga Cathedral.
Overall, we are doing pretty good.
No important blisters or aches during the walks.
Jackie, who had extreme back problems a year ago, finds that her back is extremely tight at the end of the day after we have sat for a time.
Otherwise, we are doing great.
Well as Ronald Reagan and Ronald McDonald used to say, “Buen Camino!!”