Sunday, May 22, 2016

Cantabria section of El Camino: The windy way at Santander

After surviving a really heavy thunder and lightening storm last night in the grounds of the Albergue, Josh and I packed up our wet tent and set off in the pouring rain extremely happy to have all our rain gear with us.

Our decision to bring Frogg Togg ponchos and of course our pack rain covers and ultralight trekking umbrellas made the morning hike bearable. The first section of the walk was spent in the company of a delightful Kiwi couple who now live in Australia, Alan and Janette. They are world record marathoners, motivational speakers, host conscious living retreats and hiked Camino de Frances last year too. All of their adventures are done in Vibram Five Finger shoes and apparently in one year they went through 16 pairs. Fortunately they are sponsored by that company.

Once the rain had abated, the wind picked up something fierce and we spent the rest of the day walking head-on into what we guessed to be  35-40 mile an hour chilly breezes, leaving us feeling as though we were working twice as hard. For the past nine days the dominant aroma in our nostrils has been that of manure from cattle, horses, sheep, goats and donkeys. Farm animals are in abundance everywhere and we witnessed a lamb who must have been born two minutes before we saw it, still wet and being cleaned off by mamma ewe. 

The other observation worth mentioning is that this hike is a one thousand year old religious pilgrim route, which takes you past the original churches in every town and village. I'd say more than 95 percent of these churches appear to be museum relics representing a bygone era. The majority of these great stone buildings have been locked with giant metal gates and fences preventing entry to the grounds, with a "lights off and no-one home" kind of feeling. It just seemed very strange that no hiker or pilgrim had access to any of theses churches, not even to view them inside out of 

Santander is a big city the trail was going to take us through today. To get there we had to catch a ferry across a wide portion of the bay leading to it. 

While waiting for the boat at the port, we had a fun social time with other hikers we had met previously, one from France, the Austrian couple who love us and shout out "Hawaii" every time they see us and a couple from Japan. A British man named John Morris was completing his 1600 km bicycle journey to raise money for a cancer charity. We chatted with him and Josh snapped his " finish photo" in front of the very grand building housing the Bank of Santander a large multinational bank in the capital of Cantabria.

Once off the ferry, we sat in the park and dried the tent out then continued on our windy journey, stopping off at the bar next to the closed cathedral to get a stamp in our Credential.

Along the way we encountered a newborn foal. Mother horse still had the placenta hanging half out and we watched as she pushed and eventually delivered it in a huge gush of fluid. I managed to video the experience on my Go-Pro video camera. So special!

At 21.5 miles/ 35km of walking we spotted Hotel Alcamino and decided to take a proper break for the night, in a bed. Josh's feet are mangled with multiple blisters in need of nursing and freedom from shoes.
Fortunately my feet are fully intact but of course they are tired and my clavicles hurt from the backpack straps.
The hosts at the hotel are awesome. We are so grateful for a shower, clean clothes and a bed.
Best items in the pack: rain gear and foot treatment supplies including triple antibiotic ointment, colorless iodine and needle& thread.

Buenos noches until next time.

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