Camino de Santiago Day 8:
Astorga to Rabanal del Camino
When I got off the bus in Astorga, it was still dark.
I walked through the town like a zombie in the cold morning air.
I had gained elevation via the bus ride and the temps were significantly cooler.
It was strange to be walking without Anna. She was already on her plane by the time I was walking.
I had decided that I wanted to truly embrace walking by myself, but I needed a little time to feel my feelings about being alone.
Especially after such a great week with Anna.
So I was walking and thinking about the Camino and how I had hoped to be brave enough to walk it alone someday when a man passed me and then slowed down to introduce himself.
Hi I am Marco, from Rome. Where do you come from?
And so began the journey of meeting a whole new set of pilgrims on this section of the way.
We walked together for just a few minutes. He told me he had been to Kalamazoo one winter for a work conference and he had found it insanely cold.
Then pretty soon he wished me a Buen Camino and picked up his pace again.
It was a timely reminder that on the Camino, you are not ever really alone.
And actually it’s sort of the perfect way to be alone. If you want to, you can walk by yourself all day, and feel perfectly safe doing so, but then you can join other pilgrims for dinner or coffee stops.
And there’s always someone who would join you for a celebration drink at the end of a long day.
I carried on through fields and small villages. I stopped for coffee twice because I was so tired. I had planned originally to go the usual 25 or so km for the day but in the end I shortened it after the sleep deprivation of the bus ride. So I only had to get through 12 miles and I had all day to do it.
Because the Camino runs west along northern Spain, you always have the sun at your back in the morning.
You have to look over your shoulder to catch the sun rising behind you.
It was a beautiful day. It stayed fairly cool but the sky was blue and the towns I passed were adorable.
I got to my stop at Rabanal del Camino before 2, so I took a long nap and then went to explore the village.
It was super small but has a reputation for being one of the most welcoming towns on the whole Camino.
Everyone I met lived up to the town’s reputation. I visited a small smoothie shop where the owner had built a large garden for pilgrims to sit in at the end of the day.
The host at my albergue was incredibly attentive. He also served dinner and helped me find something I wanted to eat.
At 7pm in the town on most nights, a group of monks from the local monastery sing the Vespers service in a little church.
I followed the ringing bells to go and hear them.
I definitely missed Anna’s boots alongside mine, but I went to bed feeling ok about walking on my own.
I thought maybe I would have trouble sleeping after my long nap.
Nope. I went right to sleep after dinner finished up so I’d be ready to take on another day.
I found J much prefer a bed to a bus for sleeping.