Stage 13 ~ Santillana del Mar to San Vicente de la Barquera

And sometimes, you do what you have to do because you can only go on. There is no going back. So when the planned albergue is closed for disinfection, you walk 12 kms further to the next town/albergue. And end up logging over a marathon’s distance – nearly 27 miles. Crazy, but better than sleeping on the streets.

The day started off well and besides almost crying in the shower from the leg pain that kicked in after mile 25, it ended well, too. With great parts throughout. Physically done, but mentally and spiritually felt quite good.

I spent the whole day with Petra und wir haben fast den ganzen Tag Deutsch gesprochen. German is her second language and English her third, so we decided on an easier day for her and I would speak more German. A few words of English here and there, but 90% German!  Such fun and such brain exercise to think of some things in German.

It really made the day go quickly. She had lots of questions about some American things and I, likewise, asked her about her life in Hungary. I was asked about Native Americans and American history (when our story starts according to what we learn in history books). Also the Amish, which she had seen on tv. Which led to a discussion about religion and culture and what affects how people see the world.

Oh, and we talked about Halloween, too! I have seen some pumpkins and Jack-o-lanterns in store windows here. Not very many, but more than were in Europe 10 or 15 years ago, when I was last in Europe at this time of year. She had the same answer as Eduardo gave me a few days ago. That only in the last 5-10 years has it become anything besides a day honoring the dead. A holy day for church and visiting cemeteries. It will be interesting to see if anything happens in whatever town I’m in on that day.

We also had a good talk about the difference between a pilgrim and a tourist. I haven’t written much about the actual pilgrim part of this pilgrimage because I feel, unfortunately, not too much like a pilgrim. A lot of people here are not religious pilgrims and some only refer to themselves as pilgrims because only pilgrims can stay in albergues. This isn’t to say they aren’t a different kind of pilgrim, on their of journey, but it hasn’t been that easy to focus on the spiritual side of things. I’ve been doing some reading, definitely praying, some singing in my head, etc. But I’ve only made it to Mass on Sundays and not during the week, which I’d hoped would happen and I’ve heard it does at other times of the year and on other Caminos.  So, anyway, it was nice to have a faith discussion and it was exactly what I needed!

I also thought it would be nice to stay in the monastery at Cobreces, so I planned on today being a short day. Less than 10 miles. But we got to the monastery and it wasn’t what I expected. The albergue was unlocked and across the parking lot from the monastery. We went in to use the bathroom and there wasn’t even a sign about what to do or who to talk to, etc, only a note to make your own bed. It was quite early and Petra was going to go another 5 or 10k and that sounded fine, so I went, too.

It began to drizzle at some point, but it wasn’t terrible and seems to be a daily occurrence now. I know I say it isn’t that bad and it really isn’t, but there is also no sense in complaining because it won’t change anything and just puts a damper on things. It isn’t even always a choice or a chore to be positive on this Camino. It just seems to happen. I’ll accept it as a Grace from the Lord.

The youth hostel in La Iglesia (5km past the monks) looked closed, and Comillas promised beaches, so we continued on. Another 5km later, not rushed, just a meander through the countryside, past the Carmelite monastery, stopping for photos, etc. and we arrived at the albergue in Comillas. And saw the two German boys from the days before. Who were sitting outside looking at their guidebook. Ygey told us it was closed and we asked if it was closed forever, or perhaps we were just to early. Nope, some kind of bugs, so it was being disinfected. A sign on the door said San Vicente was the closest, 12kms away. It mentioned a bus. Which runs on Fri – Sun. Great! Except today was Tuesday. We had to go. Nothing for us there, so we continued.

That was 5:30pm. We were afraid the hostel closed for the night at 8pm, so we rushed a bit to get there in time. Things were still fine, but my legs and feet were getting tired. We made good time, up and down more hills until we came upon the city. The sun had already set behind the nearby hills, so it was a bit dusky and getting darker as we crossed the bridge at 8pm. We stopped a moment to consult Petra’s guidebook, as the German one (she has one in German because there isn’t one in Hungarian) plans for what we did to be one stage and mine would have us stop in Comillas.  There is a stereotype that the Germans are all super fit and go faster and farther than anyone else. But, tangent, we arrived at the albergue an hour before the young German brothers!

Anyway, we followed the directions in the book and also a map we found in the city. Stopping was a terrible idea for our muscles, but good for finding our way. Oh, and the French mountain climbers helped, too. I think something gave it away that we were pilgrims. Perhaps the limp, or the stench.

Walking (hobbling) into the albergue, we were greeted by Tash, who had arrived only an hour before us and offered cider and yogurt. Twas very refreshing.

A shower helped a bit. Two ibuprofen, some arnica, icy hot, a foot rub with eucalyptus (gentle, because I couldn’t bear much pressure) – anything to ease the pain.

Coffee: 2€
Bread: 1€
Albergue: 10€

Next morning:
Sleep came after a long time. Good sleep once it came, but painful at the start. Luckily, I feel mostly better this morning, and have nice warm coffee and biscuits and toast with jam. Our plan is not as far today, so hopefully tonight will be better!

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