17 miles! Nice and slow and seemed quite short. Today we averaged 1.7 miles per hour as we left the hostel at 9am and arrived at the next albergue at 7pm. It was nice to sleep in a bit and not feel rushed.
As Petra, Niko, and I left the hostel, we saw Vittorio and Tash coming across the square! They had stayed the night in Laredo, the city before the boat, and had already walked 5kms. We had all had breakfast provided in our respective hostels, so the 5 of us headed to the beach. We took off our shoes and walked in the sand along the first long stretch of beach. Very beautiful and peaceful way to begin the morning.
Not the greatest for my arch, though. I did walk in the water a bit to have the cool saltwater work its magic on my blisters and sore muscles. It really does feel wonderful to walk in the ocean. And my blisters are much better. We had a true Camino party last night – Spanish wine in little plastic cups as we all addressed our blister problems. I’m down to one big one – the first one on my right pinky toe – and 2 very small ones that have been bandaged for a while and will hopefully be fine when the bandages come off.
After the nice meander along the beach while listening to Spanish pop music, we headed up the hill on the other side. Talk about a calf workout! The hill was quite sandy and soft, so each step only accomplished about 3/4 of a step. It was challenging, it was beautiful, and I loved it!
Coming down was also a bit of a challenge, and I sat more than once to scoot a bit rather than risk falling. The trail turned the corner down through some trees and bushes and then once again opened up to a beautiful rocky beach. With a yellow arrow on one of the rocks pointing down the beach towards the ext town. I had already fallen behind everyone and knew we were definitely ending up at the same hostel, so I didn’t rush the walk. I did keep my shoes on this time, however, and tried to keep to the hard sand. It was quite lovely.
I ended up running into everyone again on the other side, at the outskirts of Noja. Plus one more, Eduardo, from Spain. The 6 of us enjoyed a nice lunch and coffee and then set off again. The afternoon was pretty low-key, quite warm at this point, but not unbearable. Sunshiney and pretty villages. A few hills, but nothing like in the first days.
We took a few rest breaks and adopted a few more people to the group, but then the afternoon grew long and we wondered when we would ever arrive to the albergue. Funally, we saw some people, so we asked, and this time it was just up the hill. We were met with glasses of fresh water and shown to our room.
This albergue was a bit different than most. It was all quite communal and run by volunteers. Some had been pilgrims themselves before and were coming back to be part of this life. It started about 15 years ago to be a place where people could really share with each other and learn from each other. Dinner was homemade and communal – soups, pasta with meat, a fish and potato stew, and fruit for dessert. Plus water and wine. All was delicious!