Cantabria part II

The following is part of a series of posts on the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage I completed this summer in Spain. To read past posts in this series, click here. Be sure to scroll down all the way so you don’t miss anything. Thanks for reading.

Tree growing out of an old church
Tree growing out of an old church

Very suspicious clouds loomed over the river valley stretching inland past the beach in the direction we’d be walking. We’d come off a two day rest on the beach in Comillas, having survived a chain smoking pension owner who wore tight red pants and kicked us out early in the morning without warning, and a rainy night camping at the beach, socks and gear soaked. All day had been spent walking the hills that skirted the shoreline, past crumbly old churches, baby goats, a coffee bar with a view and locals searching for snails in the tall, dewy grass. We’d taken a long, leisurely lunch on the beach, expecting to stop for the day in the seaside town of San Vicente de la Barquera.

Thatta way
Thatta way

When at last we’d brushed the sand from our packs and made our way over the bridge and into town, the Dutchman consulting his now definitively faulty map, declared he didn’t like this town and wanted to walk on. Plied with chocolate and a promise to stop at the next place, be it hotel or hostel, I somehow agreed to keep walking. Straight into those rain clouds.

Celebrating with sidra (local hard apple cider)
Celebrating with sidra (local hard apple cider)

We trudged silently along, occasionally getting nearly side swiped by fast cars on the windy back road, for a couple hours taking care not to make too much eye contact for we certainly each doubted the sanity of this decision. Something in my gut told me it would be alright, but my logical brain was pissed and sure the night would end in a rainy ditch on the roadside, especially since we’d not passed even a house since leaving the last town.

A lucky find: Serdio
A lucky find: Serdio

At last we saw a sign for a “casa rural,” kind of like a B&B and as we turned up the road to find it, noticed one, half-hidden sign with a yellow arrow and the word “albergue.” We looked at each other, a suggestion of laughter on our lips. Could it be? A random albergue in the middle of nowhere in a town that was neither on the map or in our guidebooks? We asked a man sitting on a porch with his dog, just to be sure.

“Si, si!” He pointed the way enthusiastically.

We walked into the two bar town of Serdio and found a couple beds waiting at the albergue, along with a large group of biking pilgrims. It’s hard to describe the relief I felt finding this place and realizing my gut feeling was right all along. Sitting under a weeping willow, watching an old man corral his cattle up a narrow street, my heart was glad and a sense of gratitude made the whole world around me glow in the setting sunlight. To trust the camino is to trust yourself. To trust yourself is to trust that something bigger is guiding you right along. Somedays it takes little shove.

Next we’ll cover wild, rugged, in your face Asturias. Stay tuned.


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