I’ve finished my walking for day two and I’m not sure the exact number of kilometers/miles that I walked, but it wasn’t much. 15km, maybe? Which is about 9 miles. Only a couple more miles than the ‘short’ training hikes I’d been doing, so in many ways this doesn’t really feel like a “Camino day”. It feels like a long morning walk followed by hours of relaxation in a beautiful place… which I’ve got to say, is not a bad thing. I think back to what I said when I was planning for this Camino, and I wondered if I would just find some beautiful spot and settle in for awhile and write.
And where I’m staying tonight is the kind of place where I could imagine doing just that. It’s a small albergue in San Martin, just on the edge of the town of Orio. The town is a careful walk down steep, sloped streets, and if you walk past the end of town and in the right direction, you’ll arrive at a beach. But I’m staying up on the hilltop, in a beautiful building with a family’s home on the top floors and an albergue on the bottom floor. The entrance to the albergue faces a large yard with a stoned terrace, two long tables and lots of wicker chairs. And this set up faces an incredible sweeping view of the mountains.
The day is beautiful and the sun won’t set until 10pm. After a long, long walk in the rain yesterday, a short walk followed by an afternoon and evening with my legs propped on a chair and stretched to the sun sounds like just the thing to help me adjust into this Camino.
Only women are staying at this albergue, so far, and that seems nice too (if for nothing else other than the chances of snoring go way, way down). It’s a little strange to have a quiet day on the Camino this early on (it’s only day 2!), but I’ll welcome it. Who knows what will come next.
I can’t help but compare this Camino to last year’s, especially in these early days. Some of this- a lot of this- has been second nature. Especially strapping on my pack and walking. The terrain is different and the views are different but the action is exactly the same. All I have to worry about, really, is walking. It’s a simple task, but a big one.
The small things have already fallen into place, it’s coming back quickly: exactly how I pack my bag, the order in which I do things when I settle into an albergue, the snacks I like to buy to carry with me throughout the day, how to greet someone and slowly start a conversation.
Yesterday evening, in San Sebastián, reminded me so much of my night in Pamplona last year. Only a few days into the walk, wandering through a city with new friends, eating tapas and soaking up the experience. The rain had finally stopped and after we hunted down the best tapas in the city (I’m not sure if what we had was the best, but it sure was good), we walked through the streets as the sun broke through some dark clouds and made the buildings glow.
With me were fellow blogger Elissa (California), Misako (Japan), Iria (Spain) and Richard (France). Last year, the people I spent that night in Pamplona with turned out to be some of my closest Camino friends: Mirra, Ibai, Ji-Woo. So I wonder what will happen to this year’s early connections- whether I will see these people again, whether I will become closer to any of them.
Elissa and I had a long talk over a slow and decadent lunch today (a menu del dia for me: goat cheese salad, fried anchovies, a piece of cheesecake and a bottle of cider. Way too much, but it’s the kind of mid-day meal that I’d love to have more of this year). As we ate we talked about the differences between this Camino and the experience last year. This is a Camino, no doubt about it, but it’s not the same road I walked last year. And I suppose it shouldn’t be.
And the walk itself, today, was beautiful. The only thing lacking for me was a bar to stop at for a cafe con leche and some pan tostada- it was a solid stretch of 14 kilometers without a break. But what a stunning stretch- coastal views and rolling green hills. The guidebook says that today’s walk might feel like a bit of a let down after yesterday but in our case- with all the rain- we could hardly see a thing. So today was great.
It’s now about 10pm, and I’ll head to bed soon. By right now I’m sitting on a bench facing the mountains, with Eva on my right and Nia on my left. A thin crescent moon is hanging in the sky just above us, the sun has just disappeared behind a mountain. We sat for hours outside- sipping wine, eating bread and cheese and jamon flavored potato chips (only in Spain?). The air is cool and we’re all wearing fleeces, most of the others have gone to bed but we can’t leave just yet- the night is too beautiful. Eva talks of how she decided to walk this Camino just on Monday, less than a week ago, and how incredible it is to be here, how she has to tell herself that this is only the second day.
It’s only the second day. I have to say this to myself, too: it’s only the second day. But already I think I’ve seen beauty that can’t be matched, stayed in the best albergue, met people who I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to.
Only the second day: today I climbed out of a city and walked on dirt tracks with a view of the coast. I walked through the sand and dipped my toes in the cold water. I talked with a new friend over a long lunch, I sat at a table with a view of the mountains, I climbed into a treehouse with the hospitalero’s granddaughter, and we sat on swings and pumped our legs up towards the tree branches.