Astorga to Rabanal Del Camino
“The big picture doesn’t just come from distance; it comes from time”
A terrific walk today; back among the rolling hills, lush greenery and winding trails. There were plenty of villages offering coffee stops, including one with a strong cowboy theme. This cafe bar was certainly authentic, in as much as the guy sought to recreate the most basic conditions of the Wild West. He managed to ensure that none of the tables was wiped and the toilets had that Alamo feel, when they’d run out of soap, paper towels, a toilet seat and bog paper (I believe that’s what Richard Widmark calls it in the eponymous film version ). The bar is located in the Western sounding village of El Ganso (“The Goose”), which is described in the Camino guidebook as “a hauntingly crumbling village, evoking a sense of loss, or perhaps a reminder of a less hurried time…..” When hygiene was lower down the pecking order of priorities, perhaps?
It was, without question, an eye opener. In fairness, the coffee was fine. The empanada not so great, but I certainly wasn’t going to complain – we’d have been run out of town. Rest over, we saddled up and headed off along the trail which ultimately led to Rabanal Del Camino, our stopping place for the night.
This is one very pretty little place. A small church, a small monastery, some very tidy looking albergues, and our seriously smart hostel, which is effectively an immaculate hotel with an excellent restaurant. We’ve just enjoyed the Peregrino menu ( the best yet) including a chilled bottle of wine. Admittedly it was that sweetish, sherry-like white wine, but within two glasses it became perfectly pleasant. The magic of the Camino yet again!
All of the buildings in this village have the look of drystane dyking, which is very attractive. After the brutalist appearance of the towns and villages between Leon and Astorga, this is once again Spain at its aesthetic best.
Tonight we’re going to attend vespers in the monastery chapel, which will feature Gregorian chanting. The chapel is beautiful in a minimalist kind of way, with old, exposed stone around the altar and an altogether less ostentatious feel to the building. It is, I think, so much the better for it ; less corrupted by expensive, superfluous decoration. In the course of the Camino we’ve now visited or been locked out of dozens of churches (I know I’ve banged on about this before). We’ve seen huge, complex cathedrals, and all manner of amazing religious buildings, but our favourites have without question been the small, welcoming, simple chapels which possess a reassuring serenity the more celebrated structures cannot match.
Today’s interesting sight, hot on the heels of the man with the hare : as we followed the trail this morning we passed a lady pushing a child’s buggy. Her rucksack was hooked over the buggy’s handlebars ; inside the buggy was her dog, drinking in the view like her majesty Queen Pooch of Castilla y Leon, pass me another doggie biscuit, muchas gracias. And mind the bumps. The owner seemed perfectly happy with her subservient role, and it made us chuckle ( though not in front of her – you can’t be too careful ). Not being dog owners, it seemed a little over the top, but……?
Our walk was further enhanced when our official Camino composer, Senor Dermotto Egan ( pronounced Eh-Gahn ) sent us his latest composition, a piece dedicated to the corruption of Carolyn’s foot by the evil Blistardo. I think you’ll agree that on the basis of the first two tracks now within the public domain, his new record promises to be a classic. Sadly, I can claim no credit for these lyrics ( that’s showbiz, I guess. Keep all the royalties for yourself.)
Today’s album track is that second track from the forthcoming “Best(?) Of Dermott Egan”, track 3 side 2 (on the LP version ) : “The Ballad Of Blistardo”. Enjoy!
I got it wrong, by the way, re. today’s incline. It’s tomorrow we head uphill.