leaving guemes, what awaits is a walk into the capital city of cantabria, santander. the gorgeous hospitaleros at the albergue give us three options, and it takes me about one millisecond to choose the coastline option. jose and david decide to do the same, so we head off down the road, encountering other pilgrims moving at different speeds. everything is sparkling in the sunshine, clean after a night of rain…..i feel clean, full of soft air, floating as i walk along the road. today, my backpack feels as light as a feather, my legs feel strong, my feet connecting me to the earth. there is a fire moving me forward in anticipation of the rugged cantabrian coastline that i just can’t get enough of.
hitting the coastline, i am overjoyed to see that the camino literally hugs the edges of magnificent cliffs that stand firm against the ocean, guarding the neighbouring villages from waves that demand respect. dark clouds are boiling in the distance, and it is clear that very soon we will be heading into rain. and so it is, within the hour we have got the rain gear on and we are battling our way along the path, fighting gusts of wind that come out of nowhere, pushing us from side to side. there is no way that anyone doing the camino on a bike should take this option. i can see someone simply getting blown off their bicycle and down onto the rocky/sandy beach below……..
through the rain i can see santander, off in the distance. to get there, we must continue on this path until we reach a town called somo, then catch a ferry across to the city. the path eventually takes us down to sea level where we then traverse three different beaches, all long, all white, past surfers who have congregated on the beaches to take advantage of the waves, pushing across the sand and cutting lines through the wind and rain. walking on the sand is hard work, my legs are starting to weary, but i have a lot of gas in the tank and am able to keep my spirits high…….it is a dramatic scene, and once again, i feel like i/we are a part of the scenery, three pilgrims pushing on.
arriving at the end of the last beach, we come upon a bar. at this point, the heavens open, trumpets sound and i am ecstatic about the possibility of a cold beer and something to eat. other pilgrims have gathered there and there is a very jovial spirit in the bar- we are all happy to have made it to the end. i order tortilla stuffed with ali-oli and jamon serrano and a cold beer. the tortilla is nothing short of amazing~ the taste made all the more intense by what i have just experienced walking. i devour this tortilla, showering blessings on whoever it was that first thought of putting eggs, onions and potatoes together in such a way. the ali-oli and jamon take it to the next level……i think a new benchmark for tortilla was set that day.
i am on a high when we leave the bar. re-fuelled and ready to go. we now must get to the ferry and across to santander. here, my walking partners will leave me and head back to madrid. i don’t feel sad because a friendship was forged in the days since i met them on the lonely mountain trying to escape an invisible psycho-killer. i am sure that we will be catching up again in madrid……..we say our goodbyes and i push on. it is grey and wet, and i am eager to get out of santander and on my way to santa cruz de bezana, which is where i will stay the night. santander looks like a lovely city, i would like to go back there some time to explore more deeply, but the truth of the matter is, for me, the city holds very little interest in the context of the pilgrimage…..i don’t want to get stuck, trapped in its’ sticky web of sounds, smells, lights, people, cars…………..so, i walk through santander with my head down, stopping only in a shop to quickly buy some new flip-flops (yes! the lavender havaianas died and went to heaven….sob!). it doesn’t take me long to find myself walking on an arterial road out of the city and before i know it, i turn right and i’m back into green spaces again. the day ends when i arrive in santa cruz de la bezana at a divine albergue run by nieves and jose. they welcome me in with hot tea and cake, inviting me into their space for the day…..i spend a divine evening with them and two other pilgrims from catalunya…..if it were not for this beautiful hospitality, i think the camino would be a thousand times harder than it is. it is the sharing and sense of community that fills you up and fuels you on so that you can walk, day after day after day…….