Breakfast is a somewhat ad hoc affair. A paper-cup of hot chocolate from the vending machine with bread and cheese that's been knocking around in my rucksack.
It's time to move on, but it's raining: so an outing for the Red Hunchback. It's good to be back on the road and I rather enjoy walking in the soft rain, it reminds me of Cornwall. I'm only going 7km so I take a detour to see a Romanesque church, which is lovely but locked of course.
On the way I stop and watch a lumberjack fell Eucalyptus trees on the other side of the valley. They come down with a whoosh and almighty crash and are turned into logs for paper-manufacture in a few minutes.
I arrive at Guëmes at 10.30am. Albergue 'La Cabaña del Abuelo Pueto' is famous on the Camino del Norte and indeed it's very special. The hospitalero, Ernesto Bustio, is a white haired gentleman with a guru-like quality. We find out later that he is nearly eighty and is a priest. He takes his work very seriously and the place is soulful and deeply peaceful. I am welcomed at the door by John (a South African chef who worked in Richmond for two years and who set out for Spain one morning, followed the yellow arrows and found himself here).
The Dutch and American women from the previous night have already arrived - as has Maria, the NZ woman I met in the Akelbara Hostel in Bilbao. I thought she might give up her Camino, but she is working here and the albergue has become her home for two weeks. The German girl with the injured foot is also here; she is being taken to a specialist in Santander for assessment. I suspect Ernesto is an anchor for many pilgrims who drift through.
The Albergue is set out as a street of small cabins, each with bunks and its own loo. The food is amazing (served with red wine) and I've eaten my first 'hearty' meal for days! I realise I'm famished.
There's a library, a catalogue of the Ernesto's travels in South America, interesting collections of minerals in bottles and farming implements, meeting rooms and a meditation space. I discover that the American woman lost her husband (a sculptor) six months ago.
People tend to their washing, sit in the hot sun, which has now returned, read or stroll about in the garden listening to the wind and cuckoos. I have seen three eagles.
In the afternoon I have a shower and siesta. At 7.30pm a bell rings and we are summoned to the Pilgrims' Room to hear Ernesto speak about the Camino and the history of the albergue; the farm house was built by his grandfather and he started the albergue 18 years ago. It catered then for 200 pilgrims/ year and this year will care for 70,000. An amazing story.
About 60 people sit down to eat supper. Soup and bread, salad, pasta, yoghurt and plenty of red wine. There are many Germans and French people but also Hungarians, Dutch, Finnish, South African pilgrims and me-the Brit!
Bed at 10.15pm. A great day.