Getting Closer — to Many New Pilgrim Friends

Day 4: Laredo to Guemes — Today, as always, the first thought of the day is “what shall I have for breakfast?” The camino variation of that for me is, “Where will I find a chocolate croissant?”

This was on both of our minds as Sebastian and I said goodbye to our roommates, Tobey and Sean of England, and headed out in the morning air. The question became increasingly urgent as we walked Laredo’s long beach and found that each cafe had only toast.

Knowing that the town of Santano was a short ferry ride from the end of the beach, we decided to tighten our belts and hope that our croissants would be waiting at a cafe on the other side of the channel.

So when we came to the ferry landing we were disappointed to learn the first ferry wouldn’t leave until 9:00, a full half hour away. We complained loudly enough that a delightful French couple (Linda and her friend) shared their bread and chocolate with us. Have I ever mentioned how much I love the French?

The ferry arrived and took us across the 300 m channel and a few blocks from the dock we found chocolate croissants, tortilla, cafe, fresh orange juice and a barkeep willing to make 2 bocadillos to go.

We walked from the cafe with Malco of Switzerland, heading through town, past a large prison, then to an option: follow the road to Guemes or climb over a tall, wooded hill and walk the beach in Noja, adding 10 km to our walk. The answer was obvious: The Beach!

We scrambled up the steep hill, were rewarded with views back to Santona, and then stood in amazement as the path turned north and the brown sand beach of Noja was revealed below us. The steep climb down was covered in no time and the next hour was filled with the sound of surf, the feel of the sun, and the cool breath of the wind coming from behind us. Sebastian took off his boots and walked in the surf while Malco and I kept our boots on to protect our tender blisters. We had a long talk about Malco’s plans for his next months of touring on his way to Brazil. At the end of the beach we found a place for lunch on a grassy and shady knoll that looks out over the length of the beach.

As we left Noja we left behind us the ocean, too, and the relaxing and cool day became a very long and hot walk through small farms in tiny towns. We arrived at Guemes’ albergue at 4:45 with Tony and Julie. The hospitalero’s water and vanilla cookies were very welcome after our hot 32.5 km march.

After a shower and hand laundry the 20 or so pilgrims adjourned to the albergue’s grassy backyard and spent the cool afternoon in quiet conversation, journalling and reading.

Along with familiar pilgrims like Tony and Julie we are getting to know Amelia of Berkeley, Lizette and Mareanne of Denmark, Julien of Quebec, Nacho of Barcelona, Florian of Amsterdam, and many other wonderful and diverse pilgrims.

20120601-184041.jpgThe ferry boat, unloaded at Santona.

20120601-184138.jpgPath looking back to Snatona and its prison.

20120601-184152.jpgNoja’s beach. Sunny and beautiful.

20120601-184221.jpgLong march toward Guemes through hilly countryside.

20120601-184308.jpgBack of albergue at Guemes. We welcomed the green and the pleasant albergue beds and showers.

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