In continuation from: TALES FROM THE WALK BEHIND ME, NO.1 – SKIPPING THE UGLY OUT OF LIFE.
The following is Number 2 of 14 in the series of blog posts called “Tales From The Walk Behind Me”. Whew, writing is hard work– err, ugh, maybe formatting is worse. But I will still likely keep pace as I do my best to post one journal entry daily over the coming weeks— ideally.
What is it? It is a series of originally journaled entries through a few of my days —events, experiences, thoughts— along the Camino De Santiago.
Again, I will give you the bit of wanrnig because it might not be what you expect– my thoughts can be ugly.
The content will vary, and the timelines will be all over the place because my mind loves the run around. You will question my own benevolence as a human being.
on that note, this one is a good one.
En Route Camino Norte – Santander, Spain.
Tuesday September 10, 2019. 7:37pm
Panadería La Crujiente
Another late day, as it is now 7:37pm and the grocery store closes at 9pm. I will probably make my way over to it with the conclusion of this writing, or at 8:20pm–whichever comes first.
In writing to you yesterday-
You being me to read at a later day– how sad—
I had to stop rather abruptly because like today, I had to make haste, to make the time into the grocery store before it closed.
It is now the next day and a truly epic shitstorm of pilgrim-ing has ensued!
Perhaps a story for another day? Nah, I’m over yesterday’s events as grateful as I am/was to finally see the day through.
Alright okay, maybe just a few details.
I marched on a 36km-ish day that felt like it had some drama to it, the late start on the day got me walking a little later into the evening with no real room for error, if error occured.
Error did occur, because I couldn’t get across the water from Laredo to Santona, so I settled down in Colindres and planned to trek out to Santander from there.
It was all good, but once I got into Colindres, it was a cluster-fuck trying to figure out where the hell the albergue was because my guidebook didn’t sync up with my reality.
I paced the small town of Colindres sticking out like a sore thumb. An ogre of a dirtbag with a giant pack, a yellow brimmed hat pointing up to the sky, and red shades with lenses that have been scuffed into an aesthetic astigmatism.
The lemon gelato I had about 4km back in Laredo made my day along the beautiful beachfront, until I got caught in a language barrier between myself and some four Spanish grandmothers trying to explain to me to what seemed like the most unfathomable secrets of the universe with their exaggerated Spanish hand gestures.
They saw me, an obvious pilgrims, and they were sitting inside what was supposed to be the municipal albergue here. The most I got from them was something about a big park, and some phrase YiaYia, which I sounded like grandmother in Greek.
I skirted down and found the big park they were talking about, but I couldn’t piece together whatever the hell else they were gesturing about. Funny enough, I paced further down and found myself some Greek themed cafe called Atenas— how fitting.
At this point I’m used to my evening coffee and pastry, so I took the opportunity to have one, and to see if maybe there was someone actually Greek in here to speak to for directions… There wasn’t.
I dropped my pack down between my legs and sat down in my sweaty filth drinking my coffee, and eating my pastry. I was fed up, and felt my own fatigue as I mentally prepared to walk the extra 10km on foot to Santona.
The distance didn’t bother me much, but the time did. It was late in the day, meaning that it would be a gamble to find an open Albergue with availability. I would risk sleeping exposed under the looming overcast, and two, walking to Colindres, meant having to backtrack to Santona. It wasn’t by much, but it’s something I just didn’t want to do when I could make progress instead.
I stood up from the cafe, threw on my pack, and thought I’d give a go back to the grandmothers for a second. As I stepped out onto the corner from cafe Atenas, quite literally about 70meters away was a racecar looking sign with that said, Bodegon JauJau.
Ding, ding! What a break!
I went in, ordered a second coffee, and uttered the exhausted question from my lips…
“Pereigrino?” replied the barista –owner, waiter, random cafe guy.
“Si…” I replied, as he quickly responded in kind.
I was handed a key and was instructed to go back to the albergue that was accessable behind, and a floor above the grandmothers. What an epic conclusion to the day, I enjoyed my grocery store smoked salmon, cucumber, and greens, and was truly grateful for the help I received yesterday.
But, today was a day!
Today was some next level awesomeness.
I awoke in Colindres, after spending the night in a 15-person albergue with only one other pilgrim who was traveling by bicycle.
I woke up around 7am to hear him slamming the door on his way out. Or maybe it was 6:30am… I don’t know, who can say such things to accuracy when one is sleep deprived.
In either case, I was definitely on foot and out the door on street level by the time it hit 7:31am, and with what felt like a weird start.
It was a bit drizzly, so I put my raingear on straight out of the gate. It was really just a McKinley rain jacket that I had bought in Athens, Greece of all places, and a blue Peter Grimm bucket hat from Portland, Maine. I love that hat, the best part is the Follow the Rabbit message on the inside of the hat.
As I walked through the dirzzle with my jacket and hat, I was still too stubborn to throw my poncho or pack cover on until the rain forced my decision when it decided to come down even harder within the hour of setting out.
Once I put the rest of my shit on, I didn’t look back.
The rain — heavy rainfall for that matter — gives me an opportunity to feel special. Being adventurous and stifling about in immeasurable and unreasonable weather makes me feel great. It gives me energy because there aren’t too many people that really enjoy it.
Who knows, maybe they do, but I commonly feel like I’m quite alone when I’m caught outside during a downpour. Moreso, who else would really look forward to a 40+km walk with heavy rain…I wouldn’t myself, so who would then?
okay Wait, let me clarify the contradiction.
I’d rather it be great with sunny weather, but I get a positive appreciation with the chance to pull up my socks to get shit done when you don’t really want to get shit done. That is what makes me enjoy the rain.
It’s true it’s just rain, but nevermind a hard rainfall because you’d be surprised to notice how many people a light drizzle will stop.
So my socks were soaked, and my spirits were high because the triumph and discipline of will to just DO SHIT, when most people wouldn’t energized my effort to walk through Santander.
It’s admirable and it builds character, regardless if it is easy or not, because doing is a lot different than dreaming.
It rained, it poured, it cleared, and it came again.
The plan from Colindres was to work my way up the coast across into Somo, where I would proceed to take the necessary 10-minute boat ride across the water into Santander for the final stretch to the albergue.
I didn’t stop for food or rest until I hit about the 30km. I pushed on, not because I wanted to prove something, but to make as much distance through the weather. If it downpoured I kept going. When it let up, I pushed on to gain ground while savouring the break from the rain.
The wind whizzed, and thunderous cloud looked like it was rolling it, but I was fortunate enough to get some marvelous sunshine that contrasted beautifully as I walked along a cliffside-cornfield that surely seemed like the end of the world on the coastline to Somo.
It was so beautiful, while the energetic aggression from the wind-blown Atlantic shoreline boosted my step enough to put out a running pace through the muddy single track stretching the coast.
The total distance would tally up to 45.1km, but I can’t speak enough of the stretch along the coastline. I kept pace, but I felt that I’d lost care of the dwindling hours in the day, as I relished and marveled the scenery, and the welcome change in footing and weather.
The wet concrete roads that I tracked through most of the day, turned into wet grassland and dirt, and lastly into ocean surf and sand.
The epicness continued through right to the end as I made my way into Somo in timeless fashion.
As I shuffled my footwork slugishly forward, I was cautioned by a local Spaniard franticaly pointing at his watch. I think my bright yellow raincover and lazy stride tipped me off as pilgrim, because his gesture indicated me to make the sub 5-minute window a few hundred meteres down the street to catch one of the last rides out to Santander by boat.
I hurried in pace as best as I could to find the boat collecting its anchor as it pulled away from the dock. As I continued my pace I motioned my arms until they gave me clear signal to jump the gap into the boat.
It must have been a short 3-feet to jump at most, but my fatigue cued up my own theme music from Mission Impossible as I hurdled myself over the water into the boat.
I made my way up on top deck to sit and laugh my way across the water. I was ecstatic that I made it, but moreso found an immense hilarity as the lady who boarded me with my dramatic jump into the boat through her hands up in disbelief when she found out that I didn’t have a ticket.
I didn’t know there was a kiosk to buy a ticket before boarding… I pulled out the change in my pocket figuring that “cash only in hand” is how most of Europe works. In anycase, it wasn’t too big of a deal because I would pay my fare on the other side in Santander as a special circumsance.
A memory to relish
What a great story to add onto the day.
With that, I made my way to the albergue, washed up, and strolled out into the sunset looking for a spot to dial in the regular evening routine.
I’ll be reaching the grocery store as soon as I settle out these words, then back to the albergue to eat what I’ll buy, to catch my sleep, to wake up to embark on tomorrow’s distance.
Today was marvelous and tough. I was determined to persevere, and with my effort I can relish my moment joyfully in Panderia La Crujiente where I find myself downing my second pastry and coffee while journaling these words.