Camino de Santiago, Camino Frances, pilgrimage, Spain

September 24th, Day 23: Astorga to Rabanal del Camino ‘Reunited and It Feels So Good’

I part ways with Georgie, Rune and Sebastian and leave Astorga well before sunrise. It’s a quiet morning walk out of town, and the city is still asleep as I leave it. I’m on paved roads, which lead me to Valdeviejas, where I stop to have a coffee. This is a charming, small little village and there’s one cafe and one lady working, serving pilgrims their morning juices and coffees. I run into Ramon and meet Bill and Jan, his walking companions. They set off, but Ramon waits for me, and despite being prepared for a morning of solo walking, we head out together, and it’s good to catch up with him. We haven’t walked together in ten days.

Ramon, me, Kyle and Jesse, and Jesse’s bags.

The conversation flows, and we move to a narrow path and then to barren farmlands, but I notice more changes in elevation and more greenery around us, signaling the Meseta is well beind us. We quickly reach El Ganso, where we stop for a short rest. Here, we run into Jesse, from Australia, and Ramon introduces us.  Jesse and I talk about music over an Aquarius and he asks me if I like The National. I know then that we will be friends.

At the albergue. Jesse naps, while I write.

Jesse is a sweet, unassuming, funny guy, who wears shorter shorts than me, socks of different colors and a hat resembling something Huck Finn might have worn. AND, he definitely didn’t get the memo about the weight of your pack equaling the sum of your fears. His pack is triple the size of that of most pilgrims – packed for a post-Camino Euro trip. He carries this on his back, and carries a smaller backpack on his front.

Jesse, Ramon and I leave Rabanal together, and along the way, we link up with Jennifer, Kyle, Dima and Keren. We are all planning to stay in Rabanal tonight, an easy 7 km walk, where we will meet Tammy. I walk with Keren, who has been slowed down by some health issues. She has shipped her pack ahead and is remaining optimistic despite being in a lot of pain. At one point in time, she even offers to carry my bag!

Lunch at the albergue in Rabanal.

We arrive on the outskirts of Rabanal in no time, and Tammy is waiting on a bench, welcoming pilgrims as they arrive. Our Camino Family that has formed in pieces along the way is reunited again. We have lost Gill for the time being and adopted Jesse.

We decide to check in at the same albergue and spend the afternoon relaxing in the courtyard over lunch. Because of a shorter morning walk, we have a leisurely afternoon. We have time for a siesta and later in the day, I walk through the village, finding a field on the other side to lay in, just staring up at blue sky, enjoying not having to be anywhere, and more specifically, not having to be on my feet.

Our communal,, cooked dinner.
Ramon invited his French friends to join – Celine and Francoise.

Feeling inspired by Basti’s homecooked meal last night, our group of eight decides to cook. We head to the local market to get what we need. A few from our group head to the pilgrim’s blessing at the local church and a few hang back to cook. We take over the albergue’s kitchen and spend the evening around a communal table. It feels right that we are all back together again as we begin this third stage of the Camino.

We call it a night, as we have to be up early for our sunrise climb to Cruz de Ferro.

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