Day 23 – Astorga to Foncebadon — 27km

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Alone but not lonely I continued my Camino with aching feet in my designer flip flops, socks and a smile on my face.  I knew the experience was going to be somewhat different and I also knew I was ready for the journey on my own.  It was a tough decision breaking away from the others as they are loads of fun and the laughs, giggles, cafe con leche’s together were most enjoyable.  However, I also knew in my heart that if I continued to allow distraction everything that was surfacing would just be suppressed again and the time was right to start reflecting on the “feelings”.   My game plan for the day was to take as many rest stops as possible and to enjoy each step of the way soaking up the beauty around me.

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My breakfast stop was in a village – Murias de Rechvaldo and wow so many familiar faces.  I enjoyed seeing Melissa, Zac, Shaan and Claire as well as catching up with Rita and her son Anthony.  The pleasant cafe owner (Cafe  Meson El LLar) made my day when she responded to my order of “uno Cafe con Leche, es tostada’s par favor” (one cappuccino and toast please) – sweet pea go sit I know exactly what you need.  Blown away by her fluent English with hardly an accent I joined the others awaiting my “I know what you need”.  A great cafe con leche and warmed tortilla was served within minutes and it is exactly what I needed to get me to the next town for my next cafe con leche.  (tortilla is like an egg quiche with potato, it is a Spanish breakfast and snack that you find everywhere, not my fondest but must admit her tortilla was yummy).  A wonderful long rest and great catch up with great people.

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Mostly uphill, 5 km’s later another stop at The Cowboy in Santa Catalina de Somoza, what a vibe this bar had. some decent music playing and I decided this was just the place for another cafe con leche, my orange and a banana I had been carrying in my back pack for two days.  Minutes later Rita and Anthony from Ireland joined me and once again a good fun stop resting my feet and body.

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Rita was taking strain with her one leg and had been for days, she had a bad bout of tendonitis, which is inflammation of a tendon and causes severe pain and swelling.  Rita by this time of the Camino had been in and out of doctors and physiotherapist rooms treating her leg.  I admired her for her determination and perseverance to continue walking the Camino with her condition.  Rita was forced to take a taxi every now and again as the only real cure is resting the leg.  Her son Anthony (17 years old) walked on his own when his mom was forced due to pain to use alternative means of getting to the next village.

Something Rita had shared earlier sparked the questioning of “purpose” and the next 10 km’s I was trying to figure out the purpose of life (which we all question at some point in time in life).  Is life passing me by?  At times I feel like I am going round in circles looking for the missing pieces.  I often feel that life is a constant uphill struggle and I question if I am on the right track.  Geeez Louise I am finished with walking through the meseta and I have conquered the mental challenge, why so many questions and concerns again.  My feeling is the Camino will continue to push you until you finally “get it”!!  Best I start getting it……

So  much love on the Camino

With “purpose” in my space and then spotted a pink heart painted on a stone wall as I entered the cool little town of Rabanal del Camino I only had two people on my mind, Cassidy and Tanika.  The pink heart softened my thoughts and I realized my purpose in so many different ways.  Feeling a bit elated I was attracted to a table with rocks on it and below the table were a set of rocks with purple letters painted on them, PURPOSE!! What, you have got to be kidding me, is this the confirmation that I have figured out my PURPOSE in this life.  I felt strong and even though Rabanal was the stop over for the night I decided to have a long lunch, rest my feet and walk to the next village 6 km ‘s away.  Thus far the day alone had been amaze balls.


Walking to Foncebadon would be half way up a very steep climb taking us to the highest point on the Camino and suddenly the excitement for the La Cruz de Ferro was in my space.  (The cross where you place a stone to lighten your burdens).  Unique experiences like this along the Camino are what make the whole journey so unique and so memorable.  If those rocks were not so heavy I would have packed them in my back pack to take home :0)!!

Lunch was an interesting plate of salad with tuna, egg, green olives, carrots and asparagus – not that yummy but hey it filled a hungry hole.  I was the only one in the bar having lunch and it reminded me of how fortunate I was to be experiencing the Camino in a different way – alone yet not for a second did I feel lonely.   The courtyard of the bar had a buddha, water fountain, classical music in the back ground  and a spiritual warm feel about it that made it the perfect setting for lunch alone and a tingling feeling of “I am living life” surfaced!!

It was just after 14h30 and I decided to move along as the clouds were darkening and I did not want to get caught in the rain.  Just as I was leaving I saw Rita and Anthony, Rita was in such pain she was in tears.  I felt helpless and was happy she got to Rabanal and could at least rest in what I thought was a stunning cool little village and an awesome Casa Rural (like a bed and breakfast).  We hugged and I wished her a peaceful painless rest and my focus turned to the 6km climb ahead of me.

10 minutes out of Rabanal and the rain decided to join me on the climb.  Eish eish eish, trying to get my rain poncho over my back pack must have been a laughing site, luckily no one was in sight or …… did I hear giggles from the bushes ahead.  Ooops, two guys having a romantic moment and I felt relieved that the giggle must have been associated with their space and had nothing to do with me trying to get my poncho over my back pack.  Buen Camino and I politely moved onto conquer what was proving to be a hectic climb.  It was not long when the two chaps decided to join me — Danielle and Jesus (pronounced Gesus)!!  They were most pleasant and loved  were my South African accent.  Danielle was walking with a handbag which I clearly did not get and eventually could not refrain from asking him why he chose to carry a handbag on the Camino.  Oh he responds this bag is full of surprises and the next thing I had a lollipop, a little later a chocolate, a little later a sweet, a little later jelly beans, a little later gum!!  The surprises were never-ending and we all had a good laugh every time something was pulled from the handbag.  The light rain was cooling as we climbed but the higher we got the colder it got and I suddenly needed a warm jacket from that handbag!!  The cold was icy cold and my hands started burning and my wet clothes and socks were not making the situation any better.

Pic taken half way between Rabanal and Foncebadon – climb was hectic!  6km of steep climbing – but one should be used to this by now, 23 days of up up down up up down – trust me you do not get used to any of the constant up up down up up down!!


Foncebadon – what a great little little little village!  I think the population is a total of 20 people!

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Almost two hours later Foncebadon was in sight and the chaps decided to walk me to the Albergue to make sure I got a bed and if not they would walk with me to the next town.  I decided to go private that night and they continued to the municipal Albergue.  The handbag made the climb interesting and the laughs got me to the top.  The Albergue was warm and luckily there was still hot water for me, as I was the last to book into the Albergue (16h30)!!   A few South Africans who had stayed there left memorable and the owner was only too happy to share how he got the SA flags, South African rand (money), and other stories with me.  The pilgrims menu was smelled really yummy and I joined so many new faces for an enjoyable dinner.  A lot of new pilgrims who started in Astorga and Leon and then a familiar face appeared – Debbie who also decided to break away from the group but she had left Astorga at 04h00 this morning due to a snorer in her room keeping her awake (she also mentioned the stinky farts) – I think I would have got up and walked as well!!!!

In bed I lay reflecting on an AMAZING day.   I have come to terms with the world being a complicated place to live in, only my choices in life will simplify “my world”!! I no longer believe that there is something better out there for me – what I have is GREAT.  I am no longer confused about the direction of my life.  I love my job and I am passionate about what I do.  I no longer need confirmation about the way forward – I know what I want and how I am going to get it!!  I no longer choose to live a half live!!  I have found true meaning in my life.  Happiness, health and success is mine, it is my attitude that will determine how happy, how healthy, how successful I am.  When you are truthful to yourself the world opens up to you and you experience gratitude, love and peace.  I am feeling more calm tonight, I have a sense of well-being and I actually like who I am, got to touch a part of my soul that I have been avoiding for many years.

Goodnight, and on I walk………

Pics taken today

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Bwahaha – and of course lets not forget the feet – and life saving beautiful sandals and socks!!




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Showing 2 comments
  • Mike

    Amazing story teller. How do you find the time to write? Remember always to keep your soul erect and uphold the dignity of man/ woman. That I know you always have. L & L Mike N

  • alan stock

    Hi michelle, great read, maybe day 23 was a water shed day,time will tell. Never stop dreaming even though you have acheieved your last goal. Now as an idea, GOLD at the 2016 50 km womens road race in brazil !!!!!

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