Thursday, June 12, 2014

Day 43: Laredo to Güemes (30 kms)

Waiting for the ferry to Santoña

We waived goodbye to Laredo this morning and boarded the small ferry that takes people from the west end of the beach, across an inlet, and over to the town of Santoña. Two euros per person for something less than a ten minute trip. We made the first boat at 9:00 along with a few others. The boat just pushes into the beach, and puts out a gangway to board passengers. Quite basic, but it seems to work fine. I noticed the boat operator had the deckhand scoop up a bucket of sand from the beach, and bring it aboard. As we disembarked he spread it over the dock and stairs that were slick with moss and marine growth before we got off. There were no Camino arrows immediately visible so we headed out what looked like the Main Street and stopped at a bar for coffee. We asked the guy behind the bar how to find the Camino and were told "todo recto" or keep straight on, as he pointed to the street outside the bar. When we finished our coffee we followed his advice and picked up the arrows that led us off towards Güemes where we would spend the night. This was going to be a longish day, but the terrain was mostly flat with the exception of one hill climb to get off the beach at Berria, and over to the beach at Noja. This little climb provided some dramatic views down to the surrounding terrain. We dropped down to the beach at Noja and then moved onto the access road, that runs parallel to the beach, and walked into town. We stopped there for a bite to eat, and a cold drink, and a but of rest. Today has been hot (78 F) and muggy. A hazy cloud cover stood watch over us most of the day, but eventually cleared to bring more sun than we needed. We made our way to the town of San Miguel de Meruelo. We have been following the Cicerone, Northern Caminos, guide book. It directed us to look for a shell in the sidewalk and then turn left to cross a bridge. Somehow the bit after turning left seemed vague to me. Anyhow we made the turn, and did cross a bridge (unmarked so you do not know the name of it). It was quite small, and probably a 100 meters from where we turned. If we had turned right just at that point we would have been following the intended path in the guide book, but we didn't. The bridge just seemed too small, and too clase to where we turned. Long story short, we carriles on a bit, but grew uneasy as we did not see any Camino markings. As we were puzzling over our choice, a guy came by in a car and told us to continue on the way we were going, and that it would take us to Güemes. We started out again, but something still didn't seem right, no Camino markings, so we turned around. Shortly thereafter two people coming from the direction we should have been walking, to actually be on the Camino, said we had been heading towards Güemes, but we were following a road, not the Camino path. They did say it was a couple of kms shorter, so once again we about faced, and resumed our walk along now familiar terrain. We eventually did see a road sign that said Güemes was only 3 kms ahead. So lost and now found again we trotted off to Güemes. The local albergue in Güemes has been getting high marks from pilgrims passing this way, so we decided to try it. Once the road dropped us in town we picked up the yellow arrows and started following them out to the albergue. We walked a couple of kilometers before we spotted it. In we went and got our beds. This place is huge by albergue standards. It has been absorbing pilgrim after pilgrim since we arrived. I have no idea how many are now here as the sleeping quarters are multiple small rooms scattered all over the property. There are also several little nooks, and common areas that absorb several people as well. My best guess is that there are at least fifty of us here at this point. A communal dinner, and breakfast is provided, and it is donativo (pay what you think is fair and reasonable). More on how this all works out in tomorrow's post. There seems to be some spiritual underpinnings to this operation, but I am not sure what they are. Perhaps I'll learn more at our pre-dinner "meeting". Stay tuned. For now, we are showered, the laundry is done, and the herd seems at peace. That is sufficient for the day.

Laredo beach this morning
A few more join us
The ferry
Caminos following a prison wall
Climbing up from Playa de Berria
A better view
The Noja side
Looking towards Noja
The path to Noja
Lunch break at Noja
The suburbs
Hot and muggy
Town of Güemes in the distance
The Albergue La Cabaña Del Abuelo Peuto




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