the del Norte/Primitivo route.
Spain: From Irun to Santiago de Compostela, 500 miles.
Post 33 and 34; July 4 and 5, 2016, Monday and Tuesday.
Day twenty and twenty-one: Piñeres de Pria through Ribadesella to La Isla (July 4), then through Sebrayo to Villaviciosa (July 5th); Technically, STAGE 17 and 18 of the Camino del Norte, as in the Perazzoli/Whitson guide book.
The Camino brings out the best in people, but don’t tell the ones back home, part 2.
This morning of July 4th starts out at Casa Rural La Llosa de Cosme albergue in Piñeres de Pría, 8 beds, a few amenities, 10 Euros suggested donation, and Carlos, Leo, Willie, Teresa and Guidino. Guidino, from Italy, made us breakfast. The really nice lady and her two kids, many chickens, a dog, and a cat, that run this little albergue do a pretty good job. And, the nice lady did all our wash. Amazing! Clean clothes. And just the sweetest and nicest attitude. Basically, it looks like this little albergue is her family home, and she takes good care of it. I feel that we are out in the middle of nowhere, but the area is very green, lots of trees, ferns like crazy, bugs and critters, but none of them bite so it’s cool. And again we hear the stories, mostly from the very talkative Guidino, and just a little from the very talkative (but without words) Teresa. And, again, the rule applies: The Camino brings out the best in people, but don’t tell the ones back home.
So, Teresa leaves first, like she’s on a mission, and we know she is, and then Guidino, then Carlos, Leo And Willie. And I stay back and talk to the cat, who’s very friendly, I feed it, and we bond. I had already named him “Chopper,” and the name stuck for the night before and all through breakfast. Chopper was fun to hang with, and clearly had a role in the comfort of all the pilgrims that stay at “his” albergue.
So, I eventually walk out of the albergue, onto the path that forks in about six directions, okay maybe three, and look for a clue as to which way to go, which is always a bit of what the Camino is about, it’s not always . . . so clear, but you always find the way. And up walks a woman, obviously a pilgrim, and points the way, and so we proceed to trek together for the entire day. Hanna (a different Hanna from the night before), is her name. Basic notes are: she says she’s 25, and, get this, started her trek from her home in Belgium, she’s been trekking since April 25, and has gone about 2,800 Km. Amazing, strong, and determined to make it to Santiago. But why? We talk a lot for awhile, and then run into Teresa who should have been far ahead of us, but she says she took a wrong turn, ended up at a beach (lots of those on the northern route), and had to backtrack. So, the three of us trek/walk until we reach Ribadesella and run into Hanna’s two other friends that she has been trekking with since she crossed the border into France, over two months ago. Ronald and Anton. Quite the interesting group, so after coffee with the four of them, I decide to move on by myself. But it didn’t last long. I go visit the church in Ribadesella which was great, and learned all about its history, took off my backpack, relaxed, hung out, talked to some pilgrims, and then eventually found the path through Ribadesella, and kept going until I took off my backpack again and realized I had lost my Perazzoli/Whitson guidebook. So, now what do I do? I figure it fell out of my pack when I took it off at the church, so I decide to go back at least that far to see if I can find it. . . . Backtracking on the Camino, on sore legs, is never fun.
But, I didn’t get too far before I run into Hanna again, and . . . she found my book and I am thereby reunited with it, soggy, worn torn, and frayed. Is that the book, or me?
And so I end up trekking with Hanna, Teresa, Anton and Ronald. They are sort of kind of a I’m not so sure tight group but we stay together anyway because we had all previously decided we are going to the same place: La Isla. So, we overshoot Ribadesella (no place to stay), and end short of the stage if we had gone to Sebrayo (only one albergue out in the middle of nowhere).
And then it rained all afternoon. And, by my standards, it was a hard rain. So, apparently, we were trekking/walking past some nice areas in La Vega, and all the “playas” along the beaches, such as Playa Arenal de Moris, but when it is screaming pouring rain, and you are getting soaked through your raingear . . . whatever. But, lost quite often, we eventually make it to La Isla albergue, 5 Euro, meaningless amenities, cold as . . . . There’s this old lady, who runs the place and she is really really nice, and you can’t help but love her more because she clearly is quite old but working very hard by herself, as far as we can tell, to run this albergue, which she does as orderly as possible, and . . . by the time five of us get there, she says there are only four beds left. So, I say, no problem, they’re a team of four, let them stay together. I’ll just trudge on, or something like that. And the four seem to think that’s okay best I can tell after some kind of foreign language mumble, but the lady says, don’t worry, I can sleep in the kitchen. So, if Carlos hadn’t found me (he was already at the albergue and checked in), and told me that the bed in the kitchen was the best bed in the place, and I would be by myself . . . I would have trudged on into the rainy cold night, the lone pilgrim suffering for the cause . . . of . . . something.
And, yes, the bed in the kitchen was the best bed in the place. Really. That albergue had, Carlos said, 25 pilgrims packed like sardines in one large room, bunk beds, and beds everywhere, and wow, they were packed in. But, I had the kitchen to myself, and after the dinner meal was served, it was quiet, and a pretty decent place to sleep. Heck, I might request it next time. So, somewhere around 10:00 p.m. I hear through the door into the ONE room that there is still some talking going on, so I open the door and say: “Hey, could all 50 of you keep it down, so the one person sleeping in the kitchen can get some sleep.” Well, some laughed. I mean, I know most of them. Heck we just all had dinner together, sort of.
So, that’s it. The guy in the kitchen (me) got some good sleep. Everyone else didn’t, too much snoring, other assorted noises, cramped quarters, not enough bathrooms . . . etc.
And then next morning, everyone trekked out, mumbling about stuff, it was still raining, and Carlos and I held back and eventually left together,
in the rain . . .
and trudged slowly, painfully, sorely,
all the way to Villaviciosa, where I checked into a single room at the Carlos I Hotel. Again, my own room, in a really cute hotel, in a cute town, and then had dinner . . . on Tuesday night, July 5th in Villaviciosa with Carlos and Hannah from Llanes (the soccer fan).
The only thing missing was the cat, my buddy, Chopper. Heck, that was two days ago. Which seems like a lifetime on the Camino. Wow, these days are long . . . . You learn a lot.
Lesson 1423 on the Camino: how to have, and enjoy, a long day in life.
. . .