October 5, 2002

10/5/02 Rabanal del Camino

22 km

Last night, we stayed a large refugio run by the city of Astorga. But the big difference from other alburgues was that this morning, the hospitaleros rousted us out of bed at 7am sharp, rattled the beds and pushed us out the door by 8am.

We wanted to see the Camino Museum in the Gaudí designed Bishop's Palace but it didn't open till 11am. So we headed out of town.

Andreia & José eating breakfast

The Bishop's Palace designed by Gaudi

Another great day but a little cool starting out this morning. The countryside could be an exact copy of the Ozarks of Missouri. Lots of rolling hills covered with short oak trees.

Mark [UK] Mary [USA]

Andreia [Brazil]

About a kilometer before Rabanal, off to the side of the road was a grand, stately oak tree surrounded by a grassy carpet. The place shouted for you to stop. There were even a few perfect sitting stones left by previous visitors. I couldn't resist. But as I sat near this father tree, I watched many a pilgrim walk by without even a glance. After so many days on the high plains, you would think this tree as magnificent as any cathedral. But all of the other pilgrims could only think of the town ahead and it's refugio with hot showers, big meals and soft beds.

After all had passed, Andreia came into view. I didn't have tow invite her because she knew. The first thing she did was to hug the tree, a sure sign that women are more perceptive than men. And finally Josué and Max joined us. They climbed the octopus-like branches like children while Andreia and I soaked up the sun like this ancient oak. Such wonder, such simplicity, such beauty.

Andreia & Max rest while Josué climbs the 'father oak'

I stayed at the refugio operated by the Confraternity of Saint James in England. It is probably the best alburgue on the Camino. The buildings were completely rebuilt in 1991. Completely run by donations, it's a wonderful place, full of hospitality. Lucky for me, I got one of the last beds.

Washin' clothes

Before dinner, I attended evening vespers at the Iglesia de Santa María de la Asuncíon. The monks from the Monastery of San Salvador del Monte Irago sang in Latin according to the Gregorian tradition. The two monks sang so beautifully. To me, much better than at Santo Domingo de Silos.

Tonight Christopher wanted to cook, so who are we to argue. It was wonderful potatoes with tomato sauce. Joining us was Rick from Holland. I eat so good on this trip, especially when it's simple and made by friends.