Day 23 - To Rabanal

June 19, 2014 - Distance Traveled: 21.4 km -

This morning we walked away from Rolando and the Kiwis. They decide to take a rest day in Astorga which is a beautiful city and well worth spending a bit of extra time in.

We said their goodbyes last night, before but we left this morning we exchanged one last hug. It has been amazing how much life we have shared in the last nine days. Who knows if the Camino will bring us back together again. I certainly hope it works a little of its magic.

As I walked out of Astorga, I thought to myself, given how much life we experienced through the Mesata, if my Camino ended here, it would feel complete. I felt content as we walked past the Episcopal Palace, which was designed by Gaudi.

Today, Emilie, Allison and I are continuing on towards Rabanal. Sergio will leave later and join us in the afternoon. After a long day of walking yesterday, we are happy we will only be going 21 km.

Five kilometers down the road, we made our first stop of the day at a café called the Meson El Llar. We were looking for café con leche, and were pleasantly surprised with this spread of pastries, tortillas, and breakfast sandwiches. You could tell by how the food was displayed and the attentiveness of the women behind the counter she took pride in what she cooked and baked.

The final 16 km moved quickly and before I knew it, I was sitting outside of the small village of Rabanal, waiting for Emilie and Allison. Today, I didn't even give a second thought to walking slowly.

Once Emilie and Allison arrived, we found a wonderful Refugio to stay in which serves tea and cake everyday at 4:20. It is run by The Confraternity of Saint James, a English group which support pilgrim routes in France and Spain. With tea, they have brought a little bit of Britain to this corner of Spain. It provided the space to relax and meet new friends.

In the early evening, we took part in a service for pilgrims at the local church. The monks invited several pilgrims from different countries to participate by reading parts of the the service in their native language. Our friend Annemarie (yes, we have caught back up to her, or visa versa) was asked to share some of the readings in German. That is her setting near the alter, in the first seat on the left. There is something very special about having someone who you are walking with lead you in worship and in meditation on the scriptures.

Annemarie discovered the monastery associated with the church allows pilgrims to participate in a silent retreat, but you have to be willing to stay two nights. She has decided to take advantage of the opportunity, and therefore could not join us for dinner. By now, we have given up on saying goodbye to one another (even thought we still always snap a photo) and are actually talking about sharing a car, along with my friend who I will meet in Sarria, to drive to Finisterre and seen the end of the world together, after we arrive in Santiago.

Having parted ways once again with Annemarie, Emilie, Allison, Sergio and I headed off to dinner. Allison had packed a dress because she is attending a wedding immediately after she finishes the Camino. Carrying it gave her the opportunity to step out of her Camino cloths for the evening. She looked great, but made the rest of us feel a bit under dressed. The only option I had was to wear my blue, button down, hiking shirt, and that is only because Sergio has kindly returned it to me. After 22 days, what little style it might have once had has been lost.

As we walk to dinner, I realize we are now at the point of our journey when some us will speed up and some slow down in order to time our arrival in Santiago. Soon, I will have to walk away from everyone who is left in our Camino family, or they will walk away from me. Ever since Belorado, I have known it would come to this, but honestly, it simply feels too soon.

A verse of scripture comes to my mind, "Do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself". It is a good word. So for this evening, I will simply chosen to embrace the moment and enjoy dinner with my friends.

Buen Camino!

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