the del Norte/Primitivo route.
Spain: From Irun to Santiago de Compostela, 500 miles.
Post 27 and 28; June 27 and 28, 2016, Monday and Tuesday.
Day thirteen and fourteen: Guemes to Santander, and a second rest day.
“The Path is made while walking undefined.”
“A light unto our feet.”
There’s a song on the Camino, Cantares, by Joan Manuel Serrat, that people talk about on occasion. It was playing on Monday morning, quietly, while I was sitting alone in the Guemes Albergue library well after most of the other pilgrims had left. I was in a backliner state of mind. I had been the first up to get coffee at 6:00 a.m., and expected to be the last to leave the albergue at about 9:30 a.m. And Joan Manuel Serrat was playing quietly in the background. He sang, of course, in beautiful Spanish, and, it was only later in the day that I was told the rough translation of some of the lyrics:
Walker, your footprints are
the path, and nothing more;
walker, there is no path,
the path is made while walking undefined.
By walking a path is made,
and by returning your sight back
you see the path that is
never to be stepped on again.
. . .
I was listening (but I didn’t understand the words yet), and another person walked in. We both were looking over the books and many pictures on the walls of so many people, adventurers, and seekers, that have come through the albergue. The person was Patricia Kahlmann, and we sat at the same communal pilgrims’ dinner table last night. We caught up on last nights events, our host Ernesto Bustio, our respective Camino walks, and decided to walk out of the albergue together, with other friends that were waiting for her downstairs. She had decided to take one quick look at the library before leaving. And so with backpacks on, poles ready for action, we walked down the rock stairs to the start of the trek today, met up with her entirely new friends, and began the trek for the day.
And that’s how a typical trekking day starts on the Camino. You never know who you’re going to start with, when you’re going to start, and the mood of the situation. Especially if you’re a backliner like me, and remain true to setting your own pace . . . on your own Camino.
I didn’t know then that I would proceed to spend all day trekking with seven absolutely fabulous people. There was, of course Patricia, then there were the sisters Mimi and Lisa, and their grown children, CC, Tess, Gracie, and Taylor (parts of the Wagner and Wearda families). We left the albergue at about 9:30 a.m. and it looked like we were the last of the pilgrims to leave. Which meant that we had extra time to meet some of the volunteers, John and Alex, and get many tips on upcoming towns and albergues. Alex marked up my guide book with the best albergues to stay at . . . and some other even nicer places to search out (such as a Parador). And so we started the incredible, not to be missed trek, from the Guemes Albergue to Galizano, hang a right on the path and head to the bluffs along the coast from Playa de Galizano all the way to Playa de los Tranquilos . . . then to Somo . . . and eventually to another great ferry ride on the boat to the heart of the city of Santander. Wow, that was heaven. And, even better, my fellow trekkers went at a pace I loved and was easy to keep up with. Indeed, we all had the same pace. Pure heaven. And, they liked to stop as often as I did, even more! So we had lots of meals, and snacks, and reconfiguration stops (backpacks and blister care), and just stops to look at the most incredible views of any ocean possible. How could the water be that translucent? This was a perfect Camino day. All of my new trekker friends are much more traveled and worldly than me, so I heard many stories of travels and life in many other countries. Patricia speaks about five languages, and everyone else speaks a minimum of two, effortlessly. And, I should say that Mimi’s skill on the trail, of taking care of blisters, and several of mine, is astounding. It was the most healing walk I’ve ever had. I ended up better than I started. And while she was fixing me up, complete with the string method of blister care, Mimi mentioned a Camino song, and she would write down the singer’s name for me later. And later she did, Joan Manuel Serrat. I had to listen to it, she said. Mainly, because so much of what we talked about today, was somehow attempted in the words of this poet who put it to song. Cantares.
And so we made it to Santander at around 6:30 p.m., I think, and by then we all knew each other quite well. You can talk and learn a lot about Camino friends when you trek with them for nine hours . . . and then, spend the night together in the same small, cramped albergue room, which we did at the Albergue de Peregrinos on Calle Ruamayor, 10 Euros for the night. Monday night, June 27. And, even better, turns out Carlos and Leo were already there. As usual, they were way ahead of me (and us) and had arrived there three or four hours earlier. It was so good to see them again. And so, all of us planned for the next day in . . . Santander.
June 28. Tuesday. By then, some of us had tracked down the English lyrics to Cantares, and maybe that had some influence (at least on me) to make sure I really see and enjoy, all day, the city of Santander. A rest day was born. Most of us would spend the entire day here and leave tomorrow for Santillana del Mar. And, there again, is how the Camino goes. “The path is made while walking undefined.” There was no “defining” to any of this.
So, Carlos, me, Mimi, CC, Gracie, and Tess and a few other configurations of great people, proceeded to spend the day exploring Santander. There is a lot to see, and feel, and experience: Santander’s Palacio de la Magdalena, a castle, the “zoo,” the beaches, the restaurants, the streets, the ice crème, the museums, the bars, the wine, the food, . . . okay, and work out all kinds of issues, and the Cathedral, the cloister, still working on issues, resolving things, and a few people shed tears, and the Camino was taking over . . . and over. It’s weird because you can see how some people fight the Camino: no, no, no, I’m not going to “feel” that; no, no, no, I’m not going to go back and address that issue in my life; maybe, maybe, maybe, I will talk to you about “that,” but only because I feel safe here . . . on the Camino. And people get healed, or start to get healed, or consider getting healed . . . but, a few . . . run, and quit the Camino. Just a few. Because this is the best life has to offer. This is the best of the best of people. Why do people shine here?
Maybe because there’s a lighthouse, that Carlos says his great Grandfather was born in. And so, there, at the end of the day we sat, drank vino tintos, ate tapas and looked at the beautiful lighthouse, and knew that like the
we had a lamp unto our feet.
And are truly blessed to be on the Camino.
. . .