22 Happy Thanksgiving.

It’s not much of a secret in my family….I’m not a fan for turkey. Walking across Spain was not planned at this time of year to escape having to eat this at a family get together….wait a minute, that would have been brilliant if I had.

Last night was pretty uneventful as I arrived so late in the afternoon. I headed out around 6:30 and ran into a couple of Canadians. We decided to grab a quick bite. Service was rediculously slow as they had one waiter for about 25 tables. He was constantly running into the restaurant to grab an order, then running back with dirty dishes and cutlery.

When we finally got our food I was really more interested in getting back to my Albergue, and going to sleep. So much for my plan. I got back to my bed and put my head down at 9:45 pm.

The Albergue was a converted minastery, or something absurdly old. The bathrooms were fully renovated, and all the walls and ceiling were made to look as new as possible. Curiously they left the old floorboards which have shrunk since they were installed. There were 1/4” gaps all over the place. I could tell when someone came in the door directly below when the motion controlled light would come on. In our room a sheet of light came from between the board, and put a stripe of light on the ceiling.

Morning came too early, and I was up, packed, had brushed my teeth and was walking by 7:15. The previous afternoon I had visited a Pilgrim Shop and purchased a fleece. Along with my gloves ……I was prepared.

My lower back is still hurting, so a couple of muscle relaxants along with an ibuprophen and I’m good to go.

The temperature was 4c, cold and brisk. Thankfully there was no wind. I had also decided to avoid eating in Astorga and eat an hour of so down the road. Out of the door and into the night ink. Pools of light from street lights guided us mostly out of town on a sidewalk. My ears were stinging from the cold as the other “keeners” trailed behind.

Rats…. I was lost in thought and haven’t seen a sign or “yellow fletcha” for quite some time. It is easy to see people following someone in the lead, not looking for marks to guide them on the Camino. If the front person is lost, the rest of the followers are lost.

i decide to continue for about 15 minutes, really feeling a bit of anxiety in the dark. Finally, ahead, I do see a sign post with the Pilgrim mark…we are on the right path after all.

Breakfast in the next town is an adventure. When I went in all the stools were occupied. This shop has aluminum chars and tables outside. At 6c these are completely unused.

i finally get my large piece of toast with pizza like ingredients on top, along with an orange juice and hot water. When I have finished I am back on the road, feeling somewhat better.

The path we follow today is straight, straight, and straight. I should also point out how boring it is. I am constantly passing slower people, and being passed by those of more fleet of foot.

About  3 1/2 hours into the walk I meet a fellow who has retired as a small town lawyer from New Hamburg. (think Kitchener area)  He and his wife take off for 3 months every year and do some major adventure travel. I asked what type of law he proacticed and he explained there were very few types of cases he wouldn’t take. Such is the business model of a small town lawyer.

We split about 30 minutes after we met and I was happy to have met him, and was happy to say farewell.

By the time we were walking into Rabanal Del Camino it was 12:45pm, and I shed all of the extraneous layers. There is a famous climb into town. (Famous amongst pilgrims) this is a very steep climb for a short distance, but there is a lot of debris rock. The footing required a lot of concentration and visual analysis. What can you step on, and what should you avoid.

I finally made it, got a bed, did the laundry…..then laid down to give my back a break. This Albergue was a farm originally, and has been renovated into a pretty nice place. They have a beautiful courtyard full of flowers. The bunks are jammed together to get as many people in as possible. And the Albergue has fillled up. My guess is 95% full.

The road tomorrow takes me to the Iron Cross, and then the highest point on the whole Camino. More mountains….this will be swell.

Note: The Internet service is good for email, but not for moving large picture files around. I will make this up tomorrow….hopefully.