Day 24. Today found us walking from Astorga to Rabanal del Camino. Like the couple of other mornings that we were leaving big cities, it took a while to get beyond the city limits and suburb type areas before getting back into the more peaceful countryside. 

The first tiny village we came to was Murias de Rechivaldo, but it was still too early to be stopping for our morning coffee or juice. The village however was delightful as most of the stone houses lining the very narrow streets had magnificent window boxes like the one below.

From there it was another 6 kilometers before we reached Santa Catalina de Somoza where we found a great little bar that was packed with pilgrims who all seemed to think this was the perfect place to stop.

All the time we were walking Ed continued to have increasing pain in his feet (but more on that later on).

Around noon we came to a spot where the trail crossed a paved road, and there along side the road the gentleman pictured below had set up a booth where he was collecting for some children’s charity. He was dressed in a medieval knight’s costume and had a trained eagle that for a small donation he would sit on your arm (with a leather arm guard in place) and take your picture with your own cell phone.

There were quite a few people lining up to do this, so Ed and I just sat for a few minutes and passed on.

By now the pain in Ed’s feet had reached a crisis point and we knew that if something didn’t change we would not be able to go on. We had tried a number of remedies none of which seemed to help and had come to the decision that the pain was probably associated with the neuropathy pain he suffers in his legs and feet from time to time. But the cause proved to be quite simple – his shoes were just too tight. Even though they seemed comfortable during the breaking in period at home, now that we had been walking for three weeks his feet, like that of all the pilgrims we met, tended to swell and get a bit wider. Ed decided to take off the boots and put on the crocs that we used at the end of the day after reaching our destination. It was almost miraculous. As soon as the crocs were on his feet the pain started to subside. It was obvious where the pain was coming from but the dilemma was that there would not be a town large enough to have a shoe store for many miles to come.

By the time we reached Rabanal del Camino I knew I would have to operate on Ed’s shoes.

Albergue La Senda – tiny, crowded, dorm so stuffy at night you had a hard time breathing – this won’t go on our recommended list.

Surgery completed on the first boot. A 6 inch long incision along the lower part of the boot to give Ed’s foot a bit more room.

Our friend Tim, who we had met at several of our stops, had some wonderful cloth tape to cover the incision so that stones would stay out.

All in all this had been a very trying day but the surgery seemed successful and we discovered a tiny monastery at the far end of the village where half a dozen monks chanted Vespers in latin Gregorian chant. An appropriate way to end the day.

Day 25. On to Acebo. This morning we couldn’t wait to be on our way. First of all we wanted to get out of the albergue, secondly it was time to put my surgical skills to the test and see if Ed could actually do long distance hiking in the altered boots, and thirdly and most importantly because today we would reach Cruz de Ferro, the spot where we would leave the 2 stones we had carried from home which held the prayers and intentions of so many dear friends. We had been waiting for this day to arrive and when we finally reached the cross we were both filled with such emotion and gratitude welling up inside, that it was hard to hold back the tears. It was a joyful moment. 

Early morning glory.

Entering the village of Foncebadon.

More of Ed’s friends as we approach the summit.

Finally the day we have anticipated has arrived.

We’ve just laid our stones at the very base of the cross, a very emotional moment.

Probably the only Petosky stones in this enormous cairn.

Continuing a bit higher to the highest point of the Camino, 1530 meters.

Rest stop at the summit.

Now the long descent into Acebo.

Same road as above, but I couldn’t resist a panorama shot. It was breathtakingly beautiful.

Looking down into Acebo. If you can see the flags in the distance, that is our destination.

A brand spanking new albergue, Casa del Peregrinos. A must stop for anyone doing the Camino.

Way in the distance you can see Ponferrada our destination tomorrow.

And now it’s time to hit the pillow. Adios!