Sunday Oct 9. Santona to Guemes. Approx. 22km, 7 hours.
The weather forecast was supposedly mainly overcast with cloud cover, with perhaps 1 hour of sun. The forecast fooled us (and several others). We even over-heard a pilgrim much later in the day telling another group resting under a shady tree that she may have over tax herself. We resolved to carry an umbrella the next time regardless of the forecast (while caps, hats shade the head, it does trap the heat). We did a number of rest stops to cool down, and drank lots of water with electrolytes/energizing elements.
Getting out of our hotel at 8.18am onto the Camino route was easy given Santona is a small town. This was the first stage when we encountered more pilgrims than we had seen cumulatively the past 10 days! Perhaps they were always there in the bigger cities, but because they walk faster/earlier, we never encountered them.
The route out of town was a road parallel to the beach, but a couple of pilgrims ahead veered onto the beach. We stopped to check our Camino App, and when another pilgrim was passing, we asked about this beach route (Playa de Berria) that didn’t appear in the App. She said it was walking along the beach until it joined the route at the end of the beach. Ah, we just met pilgrims who love to walk on beaches! So, we did that for most of the way, before getting onto the road and joining the route proper.
The route was up a hill, about 220 feet above sea level. It wasn’t the height that was the challenge. It was that it was a sandy trail up the hill! So, climbing up loose sand (which seemed similar to the beach sand) on a hill slope was a new experience. And after that, there were rocky trails, which can be a challenge for those with short legs. The guidebook advises against this route on rainy days.
The views going up were great, and as we rounded the top and started to descend, we caught sight of another beach (Playa de las Helgueras).
It was time for a coffee break and a bathroom stop. There was a cafe open at this second beach, where we caught up with Kim, we had crisscrossed multiple times. He’s the one with the pilgrim mindset mentioned on Day 11.
Since we are undertaking the Camino as a spiritual pilgrimage, one of our practices is reading the Daily Readings prior to our walk. That way, we can then discuss along the walk. Today’s Gospel reading was from Luke 17:11-19. I was struck by verse 18, when Jesus healed 10 lepers, but only one returned to thank Him. “Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner”
This set the tone for my day, to thank God. And there were many reasons. We have the health, time and resources to do this Camino. There has been amazing healing in our family. There has been amazing spiritual awakening and gifts among family members.
This posture of gratefulness and the graces seemed to ripple into our Camino day. The temperatures reached 78F by 11am and then 80F by noon. Walking minutes is fine, but walking hours in this temperature can be a health risk, especially should the body over-heat. Thus, we were making multiple stops under shady areas. However, when we were really in need of a rest break, in a mixed stretch of homes and open countryside, where shade was largely non-existent, we spotted a small shady area at the front of a house driveway. The home owners had actually set up a bench under their over-hanging tree branches, with a Yellow Arrow painted, and the words, “Buen Camino.”
A second occasion was when we reached a crossroads. We had already seen Kim ahead of us and saw him climbing a consistent incline in the distance (of about 0.5km), without any shade at all. We decided to rest in the shadow of a home at this crossroads prior to making this climb. At that point, our conversation was such that it prompted me to use Google Maps to determine how far out lodging was. Maps showed that we could take the other road instead and bypass that other town that Kim was headed towards. It would shaved off probably 40 mins of walking, at the pace we were going. So, we’re opted for this. A handwritten sign confirmed that this route would led to our destination even though the Yellow Arrow was pointing to the route that Kim took. This road was also known as Camino de Santiago!
A third occasion presented itself when we were climbing this alternative road and nearer the top of the hill. We spotted a group of 4 pilgrims resting under a tree. Clearly, they were there for some time, and were planning to rest till the heat of the day had passed. That prompted us to likewise stop under a shady bush, rather than push on. Sometimes, seeing others do prudent things helps one consider the same.
Finally, when we reached our lodgings for the night, Posada Valle de Guemes, we spotted a bona fide (i.e. swimmable) pool. And our room has an AC that works.
Truly a day for Giving Thanks, most especially how God has blessed our Family.