Stage 6 ~ Gernika to Bilbao

Well, that is something I hope to never do again – 23.29 miles in one day. Toughest day yet, and I hope it stays that way. Not too many pictures and not too much to day except that a lot prayers were offered up!

I had mentally had it by about 11am. I felt pretty strong physically starting out and let pride lead to thinking that I’ve got this no problem! Of course reality smacked me in the face shortly thereafter and I couldn’t rely on my own strength anymore.

I did stop a few times. Snack breaks and rest breaks and a few moments for my daily reading. One time while peeling my banana after a potty break, I was letting negative thoughts take over and was not paying attention to things around. These bananas over here are quite hard to peel! All of a sudden I hear an “hola” from behind me and I nearly jumped and lost my banana. Some speedy guy had come up behind me without my even knowing or hearing. That was a very good reminder about remaining in the moment and not being distracted by what’s not important.

I ended up passing that guy later and then he passed me again, too. The second time he passed me he made more noise, so I heard him, and he made a comment after that showed he remembered me. He was also at the hostel in the evening when we arrived and was surprised that I was there because I had said in Lazama that I would not go to Bilbao.

But to Bilbao I did go, because there was no place to stop beforehand. I waited in the last city outside Bilbao incase anyone I knew walked in. And the Italian and Irish guys did! Just as I finished a 15 minute nap on a bench. During which I nearly feel fell off as I relaxed. Luckily, I didn’t, because that would have made for some really awkward moments. I had loosened my pack, but left it strapped and was using it as a pillow, so I would have ended up face down underneath my pack with short dinosaur arms from where the pack was strapped. Totally would have been stuck!

So I set off with the guys and 3 hours later (the Spanish boy who passed me said only 11kms, but he must have been wrong, because it took so long!) we arrived in Bilbao. The Irish chap got very excited at the sight of some famous building that I had never heard of and I was just glad when we could actually see the city. Of course, as you can see from the pictures, seeing the city and being in the city are two very different things!

We managed to head down and find the Friends of the Camino office, who sent an escort with us to find the hostel. We stayed at Hostel Granbara for a pilgrim rate of just over 15euro per person for a 4 bed room. Could have been 1euro less in the dorm of 8, but the lady said we could have just 3 of us, so we took the 4 person room.

It was a great hostel! Very clean, helpful staff, friendly guests. A Brazilian couple called me over to the table when I wandered into the common room after my shower and fed me! The hostel had a kitchen and they had made a yummy salad and paella and had bread and little pieces of chorizo. They told me they didn’t know the word in English for chorizo and I said it was ok, I know chorizo!

Having been fed, I put off going to the grocery until tomorrow. My bug bites might be bedbugs, and since we have clean sheets and a blanket from the hostel, I washed everything I brought. First the dirty clothes, then I changed into the freshly washed set and washed the ones I had been wearing along with my sleeping bag. When I go to the grocery in the morning, I will also go to the pharmacy and ask for itch cream. Mine is working j ing ok, but I need to put it on all the time or the itch comes back. I also have mosquito bites and something else, too. Not fun!

And, while the clothes were washing/drying, I had a chance to speak with people from Mexico, Israel, Spain, Hungary, and Italy. Some I had met before, others were new. Lots of fun. A great night!

Hostel: 15€
Food: 3€
Scallop (pilgrim symbol) for my backpack: 1.5€

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