I had a few walking options for today, and I talked them over with Richard and Jill and Nia at breakfast this morning. My plan is to arrive in Sebrayo in 3 days, the last town before the Caminos split and Primitivo pilgrims separate from those continuing on the Norte. From Pendueles it’s about 75 kilometers to Sebrayo, and with three days to walk, it would make a neat 25 kilometer/day distance.
But that’s almost a bit too easy. I had that big 40km day yesterday, and I thought it would be nice to take it easy today, with a short day and time by the sea. A 14 kilometer kind of short day (which at this point, is practically like a rest day). Tomorrow I’d like to stay at Casa Belen, an albergue I’ve heard great things about, and that would be about 20km, leaving another whopping 40kms for the last day into Sebrayo. That’s the plan, and I told Richard I would see him in Sebrayo, in three days. He’s continuing on the Norte, and my hope is that some of the other pilgrims I’ve met along the way will be there at the same time. As much as I understand that this is the Camino and sometimes you don’t get to say goodbye… I’d still like to say goodbye, if I can.
But today didn’t got as expected (because, after all, this IS the Camino and you can really only plan things so much here).
I started off leisurely, taking my time to pack my things after I finished the cafe con leche and tostada provided to us by our hospitalero, Javier (this was another great albergue, he even did our laundry! Albergue Aves de Paso). I started walking and almost immediately was on a dirt track leading towards the coast. The tracked weaved in and out of the trees and sometimes ran close to the water, and the entire walk to Llanes, my destination for the evening, was beautiful.
I wandered down to a little, deserted beach and found a perfectly smooth piece of sea glass. It was so perfect that I imagined it must have been tumbling in the sea for at least 100 years.
I took photos at nearly every turn, I stopped in a town for my second breakfast of the day and got a cafe cortado (a shot of espresso cut with just a bit of cream) and three pieces of what looked like a homemade cake. I only asked for a little of it (or, I think I did), but I’m pretty sure the woman working behind the bar thought I must be a hungry pilgrim, because she loaded the plate with three slices of the cake and handed it to me with a smile.
I arrived in Llanes and felt like I’d barely walked. It wasn’t even noon and I slowly made my way through the town, stopping for a map in the tourism office and finding my albergue. But it turned out that the albergue was ‘completo’, full, and didn’t have rooms reserved for pilgrims like my guidebook said it would. The only other albergue (also not just for pilgrims) was on the way into town, at least 2 kilometers behind me. I headed most of the way there, running into several of the pilgrims I’d been with last night. They were all walking on, saying there was another albergue just a few kilometers away in a town called Poo (ha!), that would open at 3:00.
The only problem with walking on was that Nicole was potentially going to meet me in Llanes. She had taken a rest day and then tried walking for a few days; her foot was still hurting and she was thinking about bussing around for a few days to beach towns. I went back to the tourism office where I could get wi-fi, messaged Nicole to tell her that I would be headed to Poo, and then settled in at a restaurant in Llanes for a long lunch.
A menu del dia was on my list of things I’d wanted to do today. A short walking day gets me to a town in plenty of time to catch restaurants still open and serving lunch, so I found one with a reasonably priced, 10 euro menu del dia: melon con jamon, grilled salmon, a small salad, yogurt with honey, bread, and an entire bottle of wine.
This is something else I’ve never done on the Camino: drank in the middle of my walk (though there are pilgrims who swear by it!). I figured that I only had a few kilometers to go, and that I wouldn’t drink TOO much of the wine…
I didn’t leave Llanes until at least 2:00, and felt so happy and content on my walk out of town. The wine was good, the meal was good, my legs were still feeling so strong, and I was walking with the mountains to my left and the sea to my right and the day was sunny with a cool breeze. I try to really notice the moments when life feels beautiful (on and off the Camino), and this was a moment I felt so deeply: it’s a beautiful life.
I got to Poo and the albergue was ‘completo’; this was another albergue that wasn’t strictly for pilgrims, and it seemed that a group of camp kids and their counselors had filled the place. I walked around the back to see if Nicole happened to be there, and the woman who worked there asked if I needed help. She showed me to a bathroom, told me to sit down for a few minutes, asked if I needed water and told me she would call to the next town and see if she could reserve a bed in one of the pensions there.
She spent a long time on the phone and when she hung up, told me that I had a bed. “There was only one bed left and a boy was about to get it, but I said, “No, that bed is for Nadine!”
This woman- Maria- gave me a strong hug before I left, wishing me a Buen Camino and I felt, maybe more strongly than ever before, that I had just met one of my Camino angels.
The walk to the next town was about 2.5 kilometers, and there was a point where I felt like I was in the most beautiful place I’d ever been. The feeling was probably a combination of things: being in the very middle of this Camino and feeling good, walking on a beautiful day, indulging in a decadent lunch, being graced with the help of a truly kind woman. And, also, being in a stunning location.
Celorio is a really small beach town, with just one Main Street, a few restaurants, a couple hotels, a hole in the wall supermarket, three tiny beaches. I found my pension and introduced myself to the old woman who was tucked away in a back room of the narrow building. “Mi llamo Nadine,” I said. “Si, si, Nadine,” she replied, and she nodded to me and walked me up a tight staircase and unlocked a door, gesturing me inside.
And I walked into a little wing: my own entryway, my own bedroom, my own bathroom. I have a double bed and a tiny TV and a fridge and MY OWN BATHROOM!! Everything about the place is old and rickety and wobbly but I love it. I’ve unexpectedly stumbled on a mini vacation in the middle of my Camino, and since this IS the middle, Day 15 out of 30, I’m taking it with open arms and am enjoying the small luxuries.
The only thing wrong with how this day turned out is that I lost Nicole (or, I never found her). We’d exchanged a few messages throughout the day on intermittent wi-fi, and I knew she was walking on from Poo, but I haven’t seen her yet in Celorio. Maybe we’ll luck out and somehow see each other in the next day or two before I leave for the Primitivo, I hope so.
So this will be a quiet night: alone in my room and soaking up the privacy. I’m going to spread out on my bed and have a picnic dinner of cheese and bread and tomatoes and apples, put on the TV just because I can, and then go to bed really early so I can be well rested and ready to go for the second half of this Camino.