Day Six- Castro-Urdiales to Laredo 33km.
We knew that this was going to be a mammoth day, and it certainly delivered. I’m well and truly exhausted. Luckily, our bed for the night is attached to the monastery, so we pray for our souls at the pilgrim mass tonight.
Before then, a short story.
The Story of the Sticks.
Before we left for this Camino, Michael trained long and hard but couldn’t get use to my absolutely necessary, wonderful, walking sticks.
“I don’t need them. I’ll be fine without them”, he scoffed.
Then he started to notice that on this walk, I was striding more comfortably, up and down hills than he would, which both surprised him and eroded his ego a little. Maybe he should get some sticks after all.
So yesterday afternoon, whilst watching Spanish TV , an add appeared saying that there was a sale on walking sticks. Of course, we had to watch some more TV for the add to reappear, so we could find out where to buy them. Armed with the name, a map and determination, we walked the streets of Castro-Urdiales to find the local Lidl store one kilometre away. Just like an Aldi, we strode in to find out that the Sale was to start tomorrow. More walking later, this time to the Tourist Office who offered the suggestion of one shop that was essentially around the corner from our Pensiòn.
Hallelujah, he is confidently striding along and now zooms up the hills.
Back to today’s hike.
As we were staying in the old town of Castro-Urdiales (which by the way, we loved. Promenading with the locals at twilight was a delight); and the Albergue de Perigrinos was 3km out of town, we knew that we were going to be behind everyone all day. So, we again set off in the dark, using our poles like the blind before sunrise. Thinking that we could cover the ten kilometres to Islares fairly quickly, we aimed our coffee hit to strike here. Unfortunately (and becoming a regular event), nothing was open. So onwards we went.
We missed the turnoff for the shortcut. So after a few colourful words from Michael, we counted our blessings and our new poles, that we were able to climb the gigantic hill through the eucalyptus forest before descending into Liendo for lunch. Unfortunately I had another tumble. This time rolling my foot on an acorn and kissing the cow-paddied pavement with my chest. Unbelievably, not cracking my water bottle that is hanging off my chest, or braking my camera, that I watched slide down in front of me. A little skin off my undamaged knee, and a little shaken, but at least able to walk the next two kilometres to the washbasin in Liendo.
With the last six kilometres looming, we limped into Laredo, tender and exhausted. Thirty-three kilometres in eight and a half hours, is the longest stage I have done in any Camino. We walked beside the sea cliffs; along a stretch of highway; beside many farms with cows and sheep; through quiet country towns and eucalyptus forests; then back to the beach. The weather wavered between threatening rain, fog, sunshine, then lastly beating against a breeze into Laredo.
Again we walked alone, only spying one couple well into the distance, yet like a mirage, never seeing them again. Lucky we have each other, even though Michael is much faster than me now!