Rabanal ( cont’d )

When I called to make reservations for this hostal they said They Only Had One double left, with a single bed and a ‘supplemental’ bed, basically a folding bed. It was fine. I slept like a log. It was in an attic room on the second floor (No elevator, carry pack up) But was a great place. We had a skylight that framed the church steeple.
It’s often hard to find lunch especially if you are tired of ham & cheese bocadillos. But we had a great lunch, mixed salad for me and a hot bowl of hearty soup for Brian.
Took naps then wandered around the small town. The small simple church Santa Maria de la Asuncion was a treat after the opulence of the cathedrals.
It is run by several Benedictine monks from Bavaria who came here about 4 years ago. I asked the older monk how he came to be here in this town of about 75 population. He said he’d spent many years in Africa as a missionary, with increasing administrative responsibilities, including sometimes hearing four hours of confessions. When he reached 70 he asked his ‘boss’ for something else and that’s how he happened to come here. I told him about my old Peace Corps friend Luang Por Sumedho who became a Buddhist monk and wanted nothing more than to sit in a cave or on a mountain top in Thailand and meditate. However, his ‘boss’ saw his administrative abilities and he found himself in England abbot of a large monastery. We went to Vespers that night at the church with Gregor Ian chanting in Late by everyone, a book in 4 major languages for you to participate. The monk had also found 4 volunteers each to do the reading in a different language. There must have been close to 100 people there most of them peregrinos. Before Vespers we wandered around town and had some other treats. We saw a many taking bucks of water from a well to his house bit the well was marked Not Potable’.
We learned that the Confraternity of St. James A UK group dedicated to preserving and maintaining the Camino does a lot to help revive small towns like this along the Camino. They may have been responsible for inviting the monks to start up the church again. The increase in peregrinos has led to the opening of several albergue s & hostal as well as shops.
As we sat by the well we had another unexpected pleasure. We heard an opera aria wafting across a park. We went in search of it, cut through an ally and found a small taverna the source of the opera.
On the wall he had a huge poster of Maria Callas. We had a delightful Conversation about opera & classical music half in Spanish half in English.
One more unexpected pleasure was a visit to the albergue run by the Confraternity. About 25 years ago they had bought the old abandoned priests house with a huge yard and converted it to a hostel. It is. staffed by volunteers who do a out 2 week stints. In addition to the peaceful garden the serve tea & cakes to their guests at 4 pm every day.
Tomorrow on to Cruz de Ferro and Ponferrada.


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