I had planned to stay in Astorga for another day but you get into the routine and it is hard to change so I got up early and headed out. I walked past the Plaza Mayor and Gaudi’s Palencia and is it beautiful in the morning light. There was a cool church with the map to Santiago done in ceramic tiles (a la Gaudi) which was lovely.

Further down the road I met a lady named Niki and she was lovely too; my Camino angel today. We walked slowly together enjoying a nice conversation,  visited an ermitage where I lit a candle for the family and got another stamp for our pilgrim passport.



My baby toes were raw and even after changing shoes, drying socks and adding more petroleum jelly, nothing worked. In beautiful Santa Catalina after a coffee break, I told Niki I would take a taxi 10 km up to Rabanal del Camino. She was staying at a hotel before Rabanal. We sadly parted ways and I forgot to ask her last name. I hope we meet again. Buen camino Niki!

Rabanal, I checked into albergue El Pilar and was assigned a bottom bunk! Yeah! This place had a lovely bar and communal area. 5 euro for the night. At 7:00 pm we were invited to attend vespers in A 12th century church. The monks chanted and there was a pilgrim blessing. It was a full house and very cool.

I fell in love with Rabanal del Camino and decided to stay there one more night. Not only is the facility nice, the adjacent town is beautiful. I walked up and down the streets and saw a grandmother with her grandson sitting on the porch stoop. We chatted for a few minutes and I walked on. There is so much history here that it’s hard to fathom. Stonewalls and clinging vines with wild roses and poppies peeking out from crevices with all roads leading to the church.

This area has a famous or traditional dish called cocido maragato, and since I was going to be here for another day  I wanted to ensure I tried it. At 2 PM that afternoon I entered the restaurant ordered the famous dish and for two hours savoured every bite. I won’t go into the ingredients for my vegetarian friends, but suffice it to say it was not for the feint of heart. Feel free to Google it or if you are on my Facebook, I have posted a recipe.  Across the room, diagonally to my table, was an interesting gentleman who had ordered exactly what I had ordered. Our lunches appeared at the same time and as we took a bite we both raised our hands in a hallelujah pose. It was quite funny. We toasted each other with the Vino Tinto and continued to do so throughout the meal.

There was a table of Spaniards sitting to my right, and one of the gentleman kept looking at me with no expression. It made me smile inside. I think he was pleased that I was making the attempt to try their local dish. This was confirmed after lunch when I went into the bar to pay my bill he sent me over a digestive drink to try. He was very sweet and kind like most people I’ve met here.

There were 3 things I had to do before end of day. The first was to go to the pharmacy and have them check out my toes, the second was to let go of my ego and forward my pack to where I will be staying tomorrow, and the third was to Skype dad.

The pharmacist said I’ll live and gave me toe protectors or what I referred to as toe condoms for my little toes. We will see how they work out. I organized my bag to go to the next location and it cost five euros to do this daily. I will give it a try and see how it works out. It’s nice to have your pack with you so you’re prepared for all situations, but losing the 15 pounds should make a difference with my feet. When I returned from the pharmacy the man that had been sitting in the restaurant diagonally to me was sitting in the bar at my albergue. Apparently he knows the owner quite well. Why is that? Because this man, Antonio Rubio, is a true pilgrim. He has been walking the Camino Frances for the past 17 years. He bought me a beer and invited me to his family home in Ponferrada. I accepted the beer but not the invitation to Ponferrada where I will be in two days. LOL Antonio has a pilgrim outfit and not the kind that landed on Plymouth Rock, look at the pictures below and he put his cape and hat on me also. I got me a hat Justin!!! What a great photo op!

I told him I needed to call my father and politely excused myself from the table saying I would be right back. I went outside by the water font and called dad, and then Antonio came out and chatted with dad also. He said to dad, “I really like your sister!” Must have been a bad connection! LMAO

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