A wonderful coastal walk mainly on winding dirt tracks today.
We (that's Christine and I) said Adios to 'Granny' at the hotel after breakfast and Rebecca met us at the start of the Camino; so we three are on our way again.
Rocks are very much a feature of the Asturias landscape. They poke up pale grey and lichen covered through the bracken and grass, litter the fields, form their boundaries and are the towering backdrop of the Picos mountains in the distance. The rocks love the light here. The coastline is also rocky and wild with the Atlantic swirling and breaking around the numerous stacks and islands just off the coast.
I've been pondering some lines from a David Waggoner poem entitled 'Lost' as I have walked over the past few days.
"Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known."
The Camino is a powerful stranger indeed; it requires a certain respect. One submits to it or perhaps surrender is a better word. It could stop my progress at any point and I feel that I'm being slowly worn away- but in a good sense. Every day my expectations of normality and what my body can deal with (or not) are being expanded. When I chose to walk the Camino del Norte I had no idea what and who I would encounter. The unfolding beauty of the place is totally unexpected, as is the care and hospitality I have been offered. The opportunity to walk slowly and at my own pace is also a gift.
In the albergues I sometimes meet younger people who feel the need to pit themselves against the Camino. Some walk 50km with a pack day after day; which is no mean feat on these gradients. They wear their blisters with pride and enjoy talking about them and showing them off!
At first I was rather annoyed by this approach and suggested they walk fewer km or even have a rest day. Their reaction is always dismissal and disbelief!
But now I think that Franciscan writer Richard Rohr maybe right (again); that modern Western youngsters lack initiation rites. He writes that traditionally these rites involved some sort of trial and ritualistic suffering to wound or decentralise the ego. I now try to suspend judgement when presented with tales of 'extreme' walking. Of course the vice versa also applies; they see my wandering progress as 'slacking'.
Rebecca and I were walking together most of the day and Christine had walked ahead. We were provisionally heading for a nice albergue at Cuerres, but as we arrived at Nueva, a small railway town, I got a text from Christine saying she has stopped here for the night. So we booked into the same family-run boarding house, in a flat above the San Jorge bar. This was a good choice as it turned out to be a gastro-pub.
The braised caramelised onion stuffed with pulled pork was delicious, as was the baked cheese and cod croquettes.
The bad news was that it was match-night and the party went on till 2am, as poor Christine discovered! Bien Camino!