I turned my 17km day into a 24 today after arriving in Castro Urdiales at 2:30pm in the pouring rain, and figured I may as well continue. I woke up naturally at 6:30am and couldn’t get back to sleep because my back and legs were aching. Seeing as though I had a bathtub I decided to soak for a while before heading downstairs for breakfast. The tortilla de patatas is a great staple, but I think I’ve already over done it and my stomach wasn’t in a happy place this morning.
I used up my 1GB of data in 8 days and had enough credit to top it up except to do so I had to call a special multi-language customer service number for Orange (902011900 – this number took me hours to find). The call cost drained my credit below the amount I needed which meant I had to find another place to buy credit before calling again. Oh boy, the joy of learning things the hard way.
Most of the trail was road walking today. Either the insoles are working or my feet are toughening up because it didn’t bother me as much as it has. My right knee has flared up tonight though and my lower back is giving me its usual grief, so Barbie if I make it to 80 I won’t be going anywhere either with my creaky joints! The rain started at about 11am and didn’t give up the rest of the day. I am SO incredibly thankful that I invested in rain gear despite my grumbling about the price of my Salomon rain pants. These pants are magical compared to what I had on the PCT. My the lessons I’ve learned since April last year. Even the latex gloves over my 1 euro fleece gloves is working a treat!
There were a few conflicting arrows today but mainly to direct bikes one way and hikers the other. When I reached Castro Urdiales an old man walked up to me as if I was a celebrity. ‘Camino’ he yelled and continued to pat my arm as if to say ‘good on you’. His smile and enthusiasm gave me a huge burst of energy which helped me decide to continue onto the next stage, even though Castro was beautiful and now on my list of places to revisit.
Castro was about 2km long and right at the end I passed the Albergue which Ali had told me was fab. Ali’s only got 2 weeks on trail and has skipped ahead a little which means she can send me notes on what’s coming up. Even though we only stayed one night in the same town I feel an incredible connection with her. Probably because she’s the only other person on this planet I know hiking the northern trail and can sympathise with the horrible weather, muddy trail and the consequential aches and pains from walking 20+ kilometres a day on this trail (mostly on roads), with a heavy pack.
The additional 7km were wet, cold and hard on the feet. I laughed when I came across a huge sign for camping pointing into a concrete tunnel. I think I would have rather slept in the tunnel than a soggy campground, most of which are closed until summer. There were some nice views on the final stretch and I used the time to practise some of my ‘Learn in your car Spanish lessons’. A man surprised me from behind as I was practising how to say ‘do you have a cheaper room?’ ‘Tienne un quarto mars barato?’ (no idea how to spell any of these phrases by the way!)
I had called ahead to the Albergue already and got excited when I saw someone else’s washing and peeked into a room to see someone sleeping. Another hiker! When the man woke I discovered he actually lives here and was the guy I spoke to on the phone. We discussed the upcoming stages which have many alternative routes to consider and he was shocked that I’d actually walked the Camino in the rain over the last few days and didn’t just walk the highway. He gave me some good advice and got out several books to prove that the alternative routes are also officially the Camino, even though I argued why there would be more than one ‘official’ route. I guess it’s not as black and white as the PCT, and in the end it’s up to the individual. Hike your own hike I suppose!
I took a video to prove that I actually made dinner tonight but my internet is so painfully slow I’ve got no way to upload it. Instead of waiting until 8:30pm and going outside in the pouring rain 7 minutes up the road, the guy at the Albergue offered me some pasta and meatballs to cook up. Eating meat out of a can always irks me a little but my hunger won over my tastebuds on this occasion. There’s no heating in this place and I can feel a draft coming in the window beside me, so I’m snuggled up with five layers on hoping for a good nights sleep.