Today was not the European vacation that some days on the Camino have felt like. I was up at 7am in the Albergue in Soto de Luina, and even though I was one of the last to leave like many days, I still walked for 11 hours to Luarca. There were two options to take, the mountains or the coast. The man who owned the Albergue explained the entire route to us the night before in Spanish, and from what I understood and what Carlos was able to translate, the coast was the way to go. The issue with the coast was that most of the route was on a windy coastal road amongst the gum trees with no views and so many twists and turns it doubled the distance (and yes, there’s so many gum trees in Northern Spain I sometimes think I’m back in Australia).
Even though I was up early, by the time I had breakfast and caught up on some writing it was already 10am. From the moment I hit the road I continued walking, except for one coffee stop in a cute bar in a town called Santa Marina and a basic lunch in Cadavedo. My poor body was complaining for the first 3 hours due to the continuos walking on asphalt. I was getting a little frustrated walking north, then south, then north again on the never ending road which seemed to be making little to no progress heading west.
I stopped in a bus stop to stretch my back, legs and the back of my left knee which has staring giving me a little grief. I have almost gone through one tube of arnica cream which I attribute solely to road walking. Eventually as the sky cleared of rain a trail appeared. The transformation of my walking and energy levels was incredible. My speed doubled, my muscles stopped aching and finally I started to feel like a hiker again. Walking on trail, grass or even mud and feeling removed from civilisation ever so slightly puts me back in a zone where I feel I could walk for hours.
By the time I reached Cadavedo I had walked 24km and realised I’d only eaten a plain banquette and a few musli bars the whole day. I found a small general store, which was the first place I’d passed in hours to purchase food since Santa Marina, and walked inside with the feeling of a hiker who had been in the wilderness for at least 7 days. I wandered aimlessly through the store with no idea of what my stomach was craving. I ended up grabbing the most basic food which would take zero effort to prepare, a banana and four tubs of yogurt. The lady in the store had been observing me for the full 10 minutes it took me to decide on these basic items and then watched me as I walked out of the store and set myself up on her front step to eat.
Most people were stopping at the Albergue in Cadavedo including a guy from South Korea called Taken and two ladies from London. As I was crossing town I caught up with Carlos who had just eaten a huge meal of meat, eggs and french fries only 300m up the road. I instantly regretted eating the four yogurts which were now gurgling in my belly and the banana which hadn’t quite filled the emptiness in my stomach like I’d hoped. Carlos was continuing onto Luarca, and although I prefer to walk alone, we continued for the final 16km together along the shoulderless roads with cars whizzing by at ridiculous speeds. I have to say the road walking on the Camino is far more dangerous than most parts of the PCT and far less enjoyable. Although it was almost 9:30pm by the time we’d completed the 40+KM day, the sun setting over the village made the last painful 3 hours of road walking worthwhile.