DAY 17: New Neighbours
My hair hung in limp clumps, escaping the loose hold of my bedazzled cap. The sun beat down upon us like Mongolian Tatars transcending the barrier of time to ruthlessly round up their victims. We struggled up the steep hills of the hectic highway, zigging and zagging from left to right to escape the extra few meters that were added on from the deep set curving corners. It had been over 2 hours since we had bid adieu to Meg and Mark, and Bob and Julie, the two Australian couples we had met back at the paradisal beach of Pobeña. We had shared a small lunch of traditional Spanish fare together in San Vicente de la Barquera before heading on our way, not too sad, as we were sure to see them again somewhere soon along the captivating routes that are the Camino de Santiago del Norte.
Stopping for the 3rd time in three kilometres, we ripped open the caps on ice cold fruit juices and icy poles with shaking hands and wild eyes. Devouring the refreshingly crisp items under a pink umbrella with palm tree prints, I began to dream of a portable air-conditioning system that could transcend the barriers of cable-supplied electricity to assist the Camino walkers through Spain’s sizzling summer months. Unfortunately, I left my PHD in wireless electricity at home so there would be no respite from the scorching heat of the afternoon sun. Where was Tesla when you needed him?
We continued climbing a gradual mountain, winding our way through narrow passes of shrubs that were too small to provide shade, until we made it to the small town of Unquera. Hobbling into a small cafe, we collapsed into the plastic red chairs and didn’t move for the next two hours, passing the precious time with writing and working as the sun slowly forfeited its dominance over the sky. Indeed as Dad and I were making our way to the only small supermarket in the town to stock up for tonight and tomorrow, I marvelled at the peaceful change in temperature.
Without any Albergues around for miles, we turned our attention to finding a campsite for the night. Tonight, like in Gernike, we would be stealth camping in the Spanish countryside. So we climbed up out of the city where twilight was now coming to claim its haven for the night and continued upwards using the grey cobblestone road. Emerging from under a cluster of trees, we came face to face with a beautiful lush green lookout that gave way to a magnificent view onto the city below. Walking through the soft grass, we dropped our backpacks to the ground, looked around and declared “Welcome Home!”