Day23 Astorga to Rabanal, 21 km
I awoke excited. As I left Astorga, almost every step, every vista, was familiar. We stopped at Albergue Las Aguedas in Murias de Rechivaldos, and sat in their dining room and had breakfast, family style, as I had in 2012, and the hospitalero was the same one who had tried to help me with my backpack then. Then along the familiar path to the Cowboy Bar in El Ganzo, where we had a cafe con leche. Then 6 more kms along a gently sloping upward, stone strewn path to Rabanal. There was Father Pius, working in the garden. He had made great progress, and there were benches and tables for passing pilgrims. I introduced myself. He didn´t remember me, but we saved jam jars for him and he gave me a jar of elderberry preserves when I left in 2012.
Then into the Refugio, with only one person ahead of me, as it was only noon. The gardeners, who come out from England to plant and do maintanence each spring were there, and just leaving to do the same job in Miraz. The herb garden is wonderful. I went to sign in and was greeted by Julie, who is the contact person for the hospitaleras. She is finishing her 2 week stint tomorrow and returning to England tomorrow. We had spoken on the phone, but never met. They now provide cotton pillowcases, made by Alison Raju, and wash the used ones every day. When I was here we gave out disposables.
I settled in, showered and did a big laundry, as they have a spinner, and the clothes dry in the garden in an hour. It was safe to wash the walking pants and both pairs of socks!
I checked out menus at Antonio´s and Gasparo´s, and Gasparo still has a better menu - maybe it is the chocolate mousse that calls me!
I went over to see Isabel at El Pilar albergue. It was quiet, as I think many pilgrims are going on to Foncebadon, which is 6 more steep kms. I think the town is hurting.
But for me it feels like my home away from home. I look forward to vespers with Gregorian chanting, and then dinner, and a wonderful sleep before tackling the mountain tomorrow.
Refugio Gaucelmo in Rabanal