22nd Day: Astorga to Rabanal

Everybody has a story. For a German pilgrim, who I had met earlier on the Meseta (not named for privacy), his story involves his wife and a wedding ring. As we sat enjoying our 9 euro Menu del Dia at a restautant in Plaza Mayor in Astorga last night, he explained that his wife had had cancer. It took three years before she passed away. They had talked about doing the Camino together, but circumstances, namely cancer, prevented the successful fruition of their common goal. He produced a wedding ring from underneath his technical shirt, that was attached to a chain around his neck. He is planning to bring the wedding ring to Santiago to leave it there. Where exactly he did not specify. I am not sure if he yet knows.

Last night the German pilgrim had bought two bottles of Rioja wine that wouldn’t give us a “big head tomorrow”, his hands growing from the sides of each ear as he said it. He was right. I think if it had given me a big head, the gospel version of REM’s “Losing my Religion” which was blasting from a boom box of Albergue Servias de Maria in Astorga at 6:45 am would have made it explode. I walked much of the day by myself. First to Murias de Rechivaldo, then passed Iglesia de Santa Maria, a church which houses a relic of San Blas the patron saint of the village of Santa Catalina de Somoza, then by the thatched roofs of abandon clay buildings in El Ganso, finally arriving in my destination of Rabanal del Camino which houses a small church that is guilded inside with a somewhat disproportionate amount of gold for how small it is, 24 kilometers from Astorga.

In the Meseta, I had no problem banging out 35 miles a day, for three days straight. Now that there are hills and elevation changes, doing 32k yesterday and 24k yesterday has left me a bit “knackered” to borrow a British phrase. I shouldn’t complain. A young 21 year old German girl with aspirations of being a horse whisperer is on her second day of a monumental adventure with a beautiful brown and gray Andalusian. She isn’t going to stop at Santiago, nor in Finnestre, not even in Madrid. She is going to the south of Spain in Sevilla with the hopes of being able to call herself a horse whisperer by then. She bought the horse for 1,400 Euros and has nursed him into better health than she found him. Still, it seems there are some remaining stomach problems. Yesterday, he was very sickly and since she is rarely riding him at this point, she needs to take care of not only him, but herself as well. Everyone seems to have a story, and I hope hers turns out with a happy ending.

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