the del Norte/Primitivo route.
Spain: From Irun to Santiago de Compostela, 500 miles.
Post 31; July and 2, 2016, Friday and Saturday.
Day seventeen and eighteen: Colombres through La Franca all the way to Llanes.
A stop along the way of putting things in perspective.
As I write this, I’m sitting in a little café in Pendueles, which is somewhere between Colombres and Llanes. It is, let me look, July 2nd, Saturday, at about 9:30 a.m., or so. There is a lady behind the counter that made me fresh orange juice, and an Americana, and a dog that kind of looks like a German Shepard, and is really nice and seems happy to see me . . . because other than the three of us, there is no one here, and it would seem that nobody else is going to show up any time soon. Alone. Certainly, if you need alone time, you can find it on the Camino. This is actually a very peaceful little café. I want to stay awhile. It’s raining outside which is why I had to get some quick shelter, and oh, now it’s really raining. I want to stay here for a while, I think again to myself. Last time I was hit with this kind of rain, it seemed to penetrate my “rain” gear. How’s that possible? . . . And it seems that once again, I can put things in perspective. This is a stop along the way of putting things in perspective. Did I really have to come all the way to the Camino in Spain to do that?
And is that so bad?
I trudged through La Franca (where I spent the night) and Buelna. Those little towns seem basically abandoned. Which made me feel even more alone. This is not a bad thing. This is a good thing. It’s quiet, raining, and just fine. Life goes on. The lady behind the counter looks like she’s about 45 or so in age, and she quietly is cleaning and tidying up. It’s kind of cute. Really, this place is in such nice order. Now the dog has found his rug, obviously placed perfectly where it should be so he can keep an eye on the door, in case one of his friends stops by, and one just did, a little buddy of a dog, sort of a terrier, and the little dog came through the door, exchanged greetings with the Shepard dog, and then . . . wandered out . . . into the rain. True buddies. Just checking up on each other. Everything’s fine in the dog world, and it helps me think, everything’s fine in the people world.
Perhaps I should trek on. There seem to be no other trekkers on the road.
It’s good to have perspective. You can really lose it working as a lawyer so hard, so long, in such stressful situations . . . and at times, there seems to be no way out, even when you know there are ways out, you can’t find your way out. No matter the occupation, I often hear the same from others on the Camino. I saw some trekkers earlier today, but they were complaining about something, and so, I didn’t worry about hanging with them too long. I’m ahead of them, I think, but no one’s stopping at this café. Perhaps people are huddled along the way in some place wherever they can find shelter.
I’m wondering where Carlos and Leo are. I’m sure they’re way ahead of me. Everyone has their own pace.
The lady has decided to turn on her little television.
That’s my cue; time to trek on. Whoa! And . . . two customers have walked in. Two locals. The place is buzzing!!
. . .
And just before I leave, I see the lady’s television. In Spanish, but later in the day I learn: BREAKING NEWS: 20 KILLED IN BANGLADESH RESTAURANT ATTACK; HOSTAGES WERE QUIZZED IN KORAN, THEN BUTCHERED. When I say the headline in Spanish, I knew basically what it said, because I saw the pictures. Ripples of pain went through me. It hurt to see what I was seeing. And I immediately thought: things are not fine in the people world. And so I feel depressed as I try to trek on. Things are not good out there . . . in the people world. A dose of another “perspective” slammed me. I got my poles ready. Hung my head, and moved on.
. . .
I made it to Llanes, all the way by myself, and now I’m starting to run into people. Wow, the Koreans, Staphano and Andrea. The last I trekked with them was on Sunday, June 26th, although I’ve seen them on and off over the last week. So many of us trekking along, always coming across each other’s path. We’re staying in the same albergue in Llanes, the Albergue La Portilla, 15 Euros for the night, but I’m not sure yet what that includes. I got a bed in a four bedroom room with the two Koreans and someone else. We’re excited; life long friends already. And so it goes. I spoke by phone with Carlos earlier today; he, Leo and Willie will be in the same albergue, somewhere. It looks like a big albergue. I just threw my backpack on my bunk bed and headed off with my friend Jaime to have an authentic Llanes meal. So, now I’m sitting at Bar Sidreria La Amistad, which is “famous” in these parts, and I’m eating and drinking “suggestions” by my friend Jaime, and trying to avoid drinking too much of some alcoholic apple concoction that you pour into a glass from four feet overhead (later, described as sidra). And eating a bean dish, with big beans and some strange looking meat things (later, described as Fabada). And, oh my, do people ohh and ah over all this. I’m jockeying to get an old fashioned plain ol’ beer, and man am I thirsty for that . . . . The waitress/server doesn’t want to hear about it. Really, a beer?! Yes, I would simply like a beer.
So then I hire a personal tour guide and get a tour of Llanes, the Cubos de la memoria (“the cubes of memory”), hmmm, the San Pedro Walk, all the old town area, the church, all the chapels, and my guides favorite restaurants! Wow, the tumbling blocks of the cubes of memories! I could run that by my library of clichés, but why bother? Not exactly the Guggenheim in Bilbao.
. . . Okay, I have to back up for the record. Remember, I spent all day on June 30th, Thursday, with some new great friends I met, especially the teacher, Jose Manuel, his wife Begoña, and their daughter, Diana. And so, I never left Santillana del Mar and spent another night there. Oh my, well, that wasn’t so hard because I’ve failed to mention that I spent Wednesday, and then Thursday night at the Gil Blas de Santillana Parador. The best of the best place in town. Wednesday night was 145 Euro, and Thursday night was 107 Euro. Same room. I’m sure some of you know that the Paradors are, in most peoples’ opinion, the best places to stay in Spain, and certainly along the Camino, because they are usually very historic buildings such as monasteries, forts, castles, palaces, etc., you get the picture. And, Jose Manuel knew I would miss my friends if I didn’t catch up, so he arranged for me to catch them by rickety train along a beautiful way across the hills and valleys to Colombres . . . where I was dropped off by the train at a station that looked like it was abandoned decades ago, and therefore, obviously closed, and there wasn’t even a road to it anymore. But, I immediately saw the yellow arrow of the Camino and in no time I found a place to sleep in La Franca. And so, there I was at a bar in La Franca on a Friday night, July 1st, a crowded bar, where everyone was watching the Euro Cup soccer match between Wales and Belgium, which Wales won 3-1. And a man took a bunch of time to talk to me, because I was obviously from Amerreeeca, and he had spent some time in Fresno raising cows. Indeed, he fancied himself a cow expert and proceeded to tell me all kinds of things about cows, that maybe I don’t really need to know, and certainly won’t retain. I decided not to tell him I’m a vegan, and anyway, I can’t be a vegan on the Camino. And that, was my exciting Friday and Friday night, July 1, 2016. Did I mention that I called into the office back home? No? Good. No matter.
And now back to Saturday night, July 2nd here in Llanes, where all of us, and there are a lot of us, including Carlos and Leo, are gathered to watch, let me guess . . . soccer!! Germany v. Italy, and the score is tied 1-1. Lots of good friends, lots of fun, lots of screams, good albergue food, a full meal (that cost 7 Euro), and we are all dedicated to seeing the whole match
. . . and some of us are thinking that the Camino will split soon between the northern route and the Primitivo route and we will all make our decision. I always wanted to do the Primitivo route. Now, I’m not so sure because with so many new friends on board,
. . . people are more important.
. . . and tomorrow is a new day, totally
. . . undefined.
. . .