The Road to Santiago.

September 24, 2004

Photo of a hillside vineyard.
Hillside vineyard

Orio to Getaria

I actually had a good night’s sleep. That is until the cock began crowing at 5:30 in the morning. I can never get over it. I don’t care where I am — whether in a small town or a big city (except Madrid), I seem to be awakened in the morning by a frisky cock declaring his intention to his flock. So, "Riddle me this, Batman." If the sun doesn’t rise until 8:30 in Spain, how the hell does the cock know that it’s 5:30? I think it’s all a plot to make us lose sleep. Actually, once I got up and closed the windows, I was able to fall back asleep.

As I pack to leave the pension, my laundry that I did last night was still damp, so I had to search through my pack to find a plastic bag in which I could wrap my unmentionables until the next stop. I had some other duties such as transferring my photos from the camera to the computer and recharging my phone as well as the mundane task of repacking my mochila (backpack). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been all packed only to sweep the room one last time and find a crucial item that, if lost, would ruin my trip. After I left the pension, I stopped at the first place where I could get a snack, just in case I wouldn’t find anything on the way. I had a café con leche y a bocadillo de pan y tortilla Española (coffee with milk and small sandwich of bread and Spanish potato omelet).

Photo of a roadside hermitage.
Roadside hermitage
After crossing the bridge, I came to a path which began to wind up the hill. At the beginning of the trail was a small, one-room hermitage that in days past offered the pilgrim peace and tranquility. Today, it serves up diesel fumes and the noise of gear boxes shifting. But, hey, a rest is still a rest. I was soon overtaken by a young man who told me that he, too, was on the Camino de Santiago (Road to Santiago). He was from Barcelona and had come across the ridge of the Pyrenees. And I thought I had it tough crossing the mountain from Irun.
Photo of path passing under a bridge.
Passing under a bridge

The path was a horse trail which went under a bridge of a major highway. The sound of the roaring cars and trucks was almost deafening. On the other side, tranquility returned as the camino joined a cement country road which meandered beside some beautiful pastures. About a dozen horses were in one. A couple of mares had foals which were still nursing.

As I continued up the side of the hill I came across a lovely, small vineyard. The entire side of the mountain was cultivated with vines. Up the road, I saw a sign for campings (camp ground), and I could see in the distance that the place had a wonderful location overlooking the sea.

Around the bend, una gran vista (a great view) — the best of my trip so far. There was a town in the distance, preceded by a couple of miles of una playa muy bonita (a very beautiful beach). Parallel to the beach was a golf course. I thought of my friend, Bob Mosscrop, who offered to travel el camino with me. Of course, he would do it by car and play golf along the way. Just what I needed: a buddy enjoying himself playing golf while I was busting a hump climbing mountains!

Photo of a seaside golf course.
"". Seaside golf course

Just before the town I found a restaurant and figured I should grab lunch when I could. For lunch, I had enslada mixta y manestra de conejo.  A mixed salad is a large plate of fresh lettuce, sliced tomatoes, and sliced onions. It also is topped with about a tinful of tuna and the concoction is coated with vinegar and virgin olive oi l— almost a meal in itself. The second course was menestra de conejo (sautéed rabbit). Rabbit is not very popular in the U.S., but I like it — except for the many small bones. One thing I can say is that it definitely doesn’t taste like chicken.

After lunch, the clouds had darkened and there was a light llovizna (drizzle), so I decided to hurry up into the town which was less that a mile away. Well, my hurrying hurried other things: I felt the call of nature. I decided to go to la officina del touismo pero era cerrado (the office of tourism but it was closed), Not quite panicky, I went into an upscale restaurant, threw off my pack, ordered a café con leche, and immediately headed for the servicios (restrooms).

Relieved (in more ways than one), I left town. Although now there was real  lluvia (rain), it wasn’t bad because it was warm and I was walking along a pedestrian causeway looking at the ocean and listening to the surf. It was a nice stroll around the headway but then, bam! The wind picked up, the rain intensified, and, worst of all, the causeway ended. I had to grab my hat to keep it from blowing away. All I could do was to bend into the wind, hug the edge of the road next to the mountain, and slog on. The oncoming traffic made me very nervous.

About a half mile later, I came to some construction where one lane was blocked off to traffic. It seems they were in the final stages of completing the causeway. So I crossed over to the blocked seaside lane and strolled peacefully into the town of Getaria. In the distance was a strange shape atop a tower on the medieval walls. I couldn’t make out what it was.

It was 3:30 when I reached town. I was soaked and discouraged. My first stop was la Oficina del Tourism pero era cerrado (Office of Tourism but it was closed). Do I see a pattern here?

Fortunately, they had posted an information sheet which listed the town’s facilities. As a result, I was able to find a very nice pension. After a hot shower, dry clothes, and a good meal, my attitude changed dramatically.

After dinner, on my way back to the pension, I stopped at a tavern that was full and quite noisy. There, I talked to various people. Among them was a pleasant couple from Australia — Gary and Michelle — who were traveling around the world. They had backpacked in Nepal, traveled in Asia, rented a car and drove around Europe, and were later scheduled to go to South America, then to the U.S. to visit New Orleans, Denver, and Seattle. And they were impressed with my camino

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