I knew the Camino del Norte would be difficult, but in her blog my Internet Forum friend, Una, describes shares a cautionary tale that gives me pause.
I wonder who thinks that a pilgrimage walk is a great way to get away from home and enjoy a few weeks walking in Spain. Well, I don´t blame you. But the only words I can think of to call this post and message is Muddy. Forest mud, river mud, sandy mud, wet mud, red mud, yellow mud, mud that sucks the very soul from your body and makes you wonder why you thought a Camino in April in Northern Spain is a good idea.
So it has been raining. We walked to San Sebastian and stayed in a Youth Hostel there. We took a high track through a muddy forest into Orio. The path was quite beautiful and the views over the sea were amazing. I thought I might get a swim but the waves on this coast are for surfers. In Deba we stayed in a little room beside the beach, the facilities were very basic, and the Walrus, the Carpenter and the little puppy were sleeping there too, all men who snored! I will have nick names for most of the peregrinos by the time I finish in Santiago. I walk with an Irish woman, a Spanish woman from Valencia and a young Portugese fireman who is deeply religous. We four are now in Gernika in a room with a French couple in a very dear youth hostel.
Today the guide book said take the road if possible as there might be mud but the yellow arrows kept leading us into the river, mud, forest and we couldn´t seem to stay on the road. It was very scenic and it was not raining this morning, but is now.
Last night we slept in Ziorta Monastery, what a treat, a Japanese man was the only other person there, we were given a good supper of soup and bread, attended Vespers and got our first pilgrims blessing. We did get Mass in Deba on Saturday night. Mass in the Basque language is hard for the Spanish to understand, let alone the Portugese or Irish but we enjoyed the Misa as it was our first. Unlike the Camino Frances there is not the same opportunity to attend local mass at night as the alberques are on the outskirts of towns.
Just four weeks and three days away from my own Camino del Norte. I’ll certainly be watching Una’s blog to see how the trail goes. Meantime, today’s weather report in Bilbao, where I’ll be starting, shows almost exactly the same temps and conditions as Seattle: 60 degrees and cloudy/rainy.