Escape from El Stanko

Astorga – Rabanal del Camino

I wake in the middle of the night to the sound of rain falling on the small window. The room in El Stanko is small and confined and our body heat has warmed it to the point that I feel uncomfortable. We are sleeping inside our silk sleeping bag liners with our Pyrethrum treated sleeping bags underneath us.

‘I’m hot blooded, check it and see’

I reach over and turn on the vertical fan that stands next to the bed, it rattles and hums and kicks into life at last, pushing hand me down cigarette odour filled air across the bed.

Cools me down enough to enable dreams to dominate my mind again.

We wake and rapidly prepare to evacuate El Stanko. Pam mentions she can’t even smell the cigarette odour anymore. A very bad sign, we have got to get out of here.

Pam has some coffee and toast at the bar, the staff are still lovely and tell us the best path to rejoin the Way. We step outside into the fresh air at last.

Trees are dripping and the roads are wet however no rain is actually falling as we leave with the rising sun.

We soon find the Way and make our way quickly out of town, the sky is dark and threatening ahead of us.


We walk on the footpath beside the bitumen road and then on gravel tracks still beside the bitumen past the small village Valdeviejas and straight through Murias de Rechivaldo.


The rain begins to fall just after Murias de Rechivaldo and we don our wet weather gear again.

We wisely/stupidly/cheaply decided against buying expensive Gortex gear before leaving Brisbane opting instead to buy plastic ‘breathable’ coats. These ‘breathable’ coats leave us as soaked with our own sweat as if we had actually just had the rain fall on us however they do stop the wind and keep you warm.

Very, very warm and sweaty.

It is a coin toss each time however today there is a cross wind, it is cold, we put on our gear as the rain begins to fall. I keep my legionnaire hat on underneath as the brim stops my face getting wet, very stylish.

I see catwalks and bright flash lights in my future.

On we plod, dodging puddles, as water begins to stream down the gravel wheel tracks we follow.

Rain does not slow us down and we are making good time, we don’t need to stop to drink and we soon make the next village Santa Catalina de Somoza where we stop to rest and eat.


By the time we leave the rain has stopped however we elect to keep our wet weather gear on as we are soaked in sweat and there is still a cold cross wind that would chill us both.



We march on to El Ganso pausing only to take photos of the entry to the town and the ‘Cowboy’ bar.



We rest on some concrete benches a while after El Ganso and Jo catches up with us and has a chat. While we are talking Amr and Rosie pass by and Jo leaves us to catch them. Jo is a little pocket rocket who walks even faster than Pam.

El Ganso is the last village we pass through prior to Rabanal and a long gap separates the two. A couple of kilometers out from Rabanal the Way leaves the side of the bitumen and we follow a rough eroded uphill path where slippery rocks and protruding tree roots lie in hope tripping the unwary pilgrim.


This path has a pig wire netting boundary on the right hand side that pilgrims have filled continuously with wooden crosses constructed from fallen tree branches.

The fence line continues for at least a kilometer with hardly a gap in the crosses. Apparently pilgrims are industrious and have plenty of spare time.

We reach the road again passing a little stone church on the left soon after which the entry to Rabanal del Camino appears on the right and we make our way into town up the concrete streets passing a map of the village that clearly marks all the Albergues and hotels. Yay.


Rabanal del Camino is a prosperous looking town with attractive looking Albergues.

We were unable to secure a hotel room as they have all been previously booked however we have been able to snare a private room in the Albergue del Pilar.

We make our way to the Albergue, people entering ahead of us are turned away.


Lucky we booked ahead as this town is full to the brim by the time we have arrived and there is quite a walk to the next village with no guarantee of securing accommodation.

Once they realise we have reserved a room the staff at Albergue del Pilar are super friendly. We are taken to our room which is in a separate building to the main Alburgue. We walk across a courtyard and into the building which is newly constructed and has a living area, four spacious double rooms and two bathrooms.


After ablutions we walk into town sightseeing, the village is small and this does not take long. We enter a bar for refreshments and not long after Jo walks in and joins us.


Jo is an intelligent, well read and travelled, super fit lady and we are soon embroiled in lively interesting conversation which goes on for some time.

Quite some time with many Cervesas.

Better a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy.

We wind our way back to the room and have a little rest before heading back into town for dinner. We decide on the same hotel where we had drinks earlier.

The hotel where we plan to dine is right across the street from the town church and sitting in the church grounds is a swarm of young teenage children who are visiting the town. As we pass some of the boys ask us where we are from.

We reply ‘Australia’ and the boys reply ‘Ah Australie, beautiful kangaroo’.

It is nice to be liked. Even for your national symbol.

PLL  Mick & Pam

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