Rabanal del Camino
Hello mom and dad, I am alive and well on the camino.
On Sunday morning
the Camino class departed the second to last major city before Santiago in Astorga for the little mountain village of Rabanal. The six hour walk took us through rolling wheat fields and small towns at the foot of our mountain pass like El Ganso.
Rabanal del Camino was founded in the twelfth century solely for the purpose of administering to pilgrims passing through the Leonese and Castilian mountains. The village was attended to by the Templar Knights, who are said to have restored Rabanal’s tiny Iglesia de Santa Maria de la Asuncion in the thirteenth century.
Rabanal itself is one of the few thriving villages of the Maragateria region, home to about 4000 people spread over 40 villages. Rabanal has roughly 30 year round residents, and swells closer to 100 residents during the summer Camino months. Four of the year round residents are Austrian monks living across the Julian Campo Plaza from the Iglesia de Santa Maria. They offer several daily services, including the 7 pm
Vespars, a Gregorian chanting of the psalms which we attended among a full capacity crowd of forty people.
The mountains surrounding Rabanal have rich Roman history dating back to the first century. After a tortilla lunch at our pilgrim albergue I went off in search of La Fucarona, a historical site hosting Roman gold mine ruins. Dual-wielding my walking staff in my right hand and a sharp slate rock to fend off the wolf attacks typical of this region in my left, I at least looked the part of a medieval wanderer in search of the day’s bounty. While I was unable to track down La Fucarona (I was off by several kilometers), I did make it down a steep ravine to rest my feet in a cool creek before heading back to the village. From the mountaintop I could see the region’s green valleys stretching to the horizon and the next morning’s winding path finagling through the fields. The pilgrim sanctuary of tiny Rabanal was calling me home for rest, for the night is dark and full of terrors, and the road continues to the end of the earth.
The next morning we would reach Foncebadon, the Iron Cross (La Cruz de Ferro, pictured with the author) and Molinaseca by the afternoon.
Hasta la vista