Daily Archives: August 2, 2012

Boats, Beaches, Knees and Roads

No WiFi again last night, so double Camino bubble again today.

I promised on Tuesday to post a photo of Laredo beach at sunrise, sans sizzling sunbathers, and hopefully this will give you at least some idea of how lovely it really is…And this one should give you both some idea of just how long the beach is, and consequentially how long it takes to get out of town…

…which also involves a whole new mode of transport – taking you a 10 minute hop from the outskirts of Laredo to the inskirts of Santona:

And on arrival, yet more tarmac to contend with – around 3-4 km worth – which I have to admit, is starting to take its toll.

I haven’t mentioned this before, but on the first day of this trip I managed to sprain my right knee slightly on one of the sharper descents that day, causing increasing discomfort over the ensuing 10 days.

This morning, the pain in the right knee seemed to miraculously disappear, only to be replaced by a considerably sharper pain in the left, making yesterday’s 28km extraordinarily uncomfortable – not least because it was actually around 35km, due to going the wrong bloody way again. But I’ll come back to that.

I’ve been treated to some stunning coastal views so far on this journey, but I hadn’t encountered a proper coastal path until yesterday:

My knees didn’t like it much, but it would be impossible to underplay the worth-whileness of it all, given the views from one side of the summit…

…and then the other:

And after the descent, only this to contend with…

…a stretch of beach that offered unobstructed views into the horizon…apart from this twonk getting in the way (honestly, some people will do anything to hog the limelight)…

But after a while I started to wonder whether I was still going the right way; those little yellow arrows start to become quite addictive after a few days, and I was clearly going cold turkey when I spotted this one pointing towards the nearest Albergue, and headed straight for it…

…like a lamb to the slaughter. I won’t bore you with the next three hours of B-roads, but suffice to say I discovered later on that I could have cut my journey considerably (by about two hours) if I’d just carried on down the beach.

What I will say that is that ‘hard-going’ is an accurate, albeit ironic, term to describe a situation where your progress is slowed by your walking poles getting stuck in tarmac that has been melted by the midday sun:

But eventually I discovered some more rural respite for my knees. I love the fact that this is a spray-painted sign to Santiago, which is still some 300 miles away:

And then not too far to that night’s Albergue at Guemes. Which was a little bit special:

I’ve never been one for too much communal action (would’ve been a rubbish swinger), but even the most hardened solipsist would have been hard pushed not to enjoy the hospitality of Pastor Ernesto Bustio, who regaled 50 odd walkers with the story of his Albergue:

Very briefly, it turns out that this was originally his family home which he, his parents and his four sisters had to leave when he was aged 7 years old or so, to escape the deprivations of the Spanish Civil War.

Having promised himself he would return to the homestead one day, he spent a bit of the Sixties studying to be a priest, and another bit travelling in a Land Rover throughout Europe, The Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

He then came back and devoted his time to creating the kind of refuge that he felt that walkers of the Camino deserved.

From the first Pelegrino that came his way in 1967, there are now around 2,300 that spend the night in the Albergue each year. And of the 13 nationalities represented in the Albergue last night, I came in last, with an unremarkable ‘un point’. I never thought the phrase ‘now I know what Englebert Humperdink feels like’ would pass my lips, but that’s The Camino for you, clearly.

And so onto Santander.

I woke to a morning mist that was a welcome relief to yesterday’s heat…

Which soon turned into a downpour in the midst of which I spotted this raggedy bunch of fellow walkers…

And I’m afraid that the only positive thing that can be said about today’s walk was that it was extraordinarily short.

About half the length that I expected it to be, in fact. The guide books say that the leg is around 15km, but I’ve long since stopped looking at the details  – so it was a rather nice surprise to find out that half of that was covered by boat…

…which also gave me plenty of time to find some accommodation in Santander.

If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know that the only guide book I’ve been using is one translated from Spanish via Google, which told me that I would experience moments of ‘peace and calm’ in the middle of a giant industrial estate slap bang in the Basque country.

Given that the same guide book told me that tonight’s Albergue was ‘grim’, I decided to play another hotel trump card and came up with this:

Not much of a view, I’ll grant you, but for 30 Euros, you could do a whole lot worse…

And so goodnight (finally) to Guemes and to Santander:

Filed under: On The Road Tagged: Guemes, Rain, Rethink Mental Illness, Santander, The Camino de Santiago de Compestela, Walking

Small Victories…

Small victories are still the bread and butter getting me through these depressed times. For instance, I went out last night for my Stitch ‘n Bitch group, and pretty much felt like curling up and sobbing as soon as I got there. No good reason why — my brain just decided that being out of my nest meant that I ‘deserved’ to feel sad and horrible. I managed to not do such, and had an enjoyable and frank discussion about dealing with depression with one of the newer ladies in the group.

I’d confided my relief that no one had hit me with, ‘Why are you depressed?’ during the past month, and my infinite relief at not having to deal with that banal and kind of insulting question. She commented that she would not have guessed I had anything depressive going on, because I present so cheerful. One of my best friends added to that in pointing out because I usually do seem so happy camper, that it probably is a bit of a shock and, perhaps, an over-reactive concern triggered in others when they find out I have depression rocking the houseboat. And she’s got a point — the lady I was talking to while at Stitch ‘n Bitch seemed to behave in a manner that was increasingly solicitous of me (without, praise deity, being condescending or insulting).

Still, I know I’ve made progress, because that sort of concern doesn’t put me on edge as much anymore. Because I write here daily and can talk about things with my husband, it’s a tiny bit easier to understand that people care. And that their caring doesn’t mean that I am a pitiable creature too weak to get by on her own, that they care – end of. It’s still hard, because well-meant concern triggers the brain’s whiny centers into pushing its crappy agenda that people think I suck and am pathetic and you know you’re being whiny, so nyah nyah you suck.

So yeah, still ticking along and still trying to apply positivity, but it’s still not easy. :)


On the Road Again

I’m in lovely Santa Fe, New Mexico, and heading to Portland, Oregon on Friday. There’s great food with copious green …

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