DAY 27: In the Heart of the Asturias
The robotic clicking sound of the camera taking another photo echoed in my ears. My vision refocused and I found myself leaning over the edge of a wooden fence, staring down at a mesmerising ocean, the waves swelling in the sparkling sun. I was standing at Regalina’s Hermitage, (Ermita de La Regalina) in the heart of the Asturias, on the coast of what is ranked to be the 8th most beautiful place in all of Spain. Looking around at the picturesque honeydew coloured countryside and dark blueberry waters tied together by the tangerine light of the sun, I couldn’t help but understand why.
It was already late in the morning when we returned to La Regalina’s campground in Cadavedo to pick up our backpacks. At dawn we had listened from our tents, as some of our fellow pilgrims set off from the surrounding Albergues, heading towards a dark horizon, clouded in grey fog and drizzling rain. We had sat inside our two person tents, enjoying the ultra rare mornings where we got to sleep for an extra thirty minutes. Then we packed up our backpacks and set off along the empty gravel road, walking through the silent morning countryside, out to the coast.
A small, idyllic alcove of concrete and cows was our first rest stop of the day. I closed my eyes and let the sticky embrace of the hot sun overwhelm me. It was only when two voices broke the chorus of the frogs in the river below us that I realised almost an hour had gone by. With a familiar Aussie slur melting into my ears, I looked up from the burning concrete to see Meg and Mark, our Camino-made friends, standing beside Mum and Lalika. It was a joyful reunion, one filled with much laughter, melted Kit-Kats and conversation on what had transpired since our last meeting. We didn’t think our paths wold cross again, so we made the most of the opportunity to speak and enjoy The Camino together, walking the 9 kilometres into the beautiful port cove village of Luarca.
As we descended into the village below, looking out over the cobblestone streets, the afternoon sun sparkling on the bay inlet, we could have just as well been in a seaside town off the coast of Greece, bar for the breathtaking Asturias valleys of course! The steep cobblestone path that led into the town centre, made for a great picture of the glittering waters, stopping us every twenty seconds for another perspective of that perfect snap. We arrived in the white washed town, just in time for a late lunch.
Near the heart of Luarca’s tourist section, we bid temporary goodbyes to Meg and Mark.
What we’ve discovered in the years along our journey is that the people we meet define the destination. The friends we make are embedded into our minds like the cobblestone streets of a city. There are 7 billion human beings on this planet. It has made me contemplate how The universe brings us into contact with those we have a connection with, whether it is to learn something from them or for them to learn something from us. With Meg and Mark we knew it wouldn’t be the last time just yet.
Our journey for the day was not yet completed. After our late lunch we started the steep and long ascent out of Luarca. As the descending sun over the highway lit up the white road lines to a glowing amber, we turned off the road into the secluded wheat-field haven of Otur campground. After reading a few positive reviews off our Camino Del Norte app, we had made the decision to walk the extra six kilometres out of Luarca, allowing us not only to have a small head start for the next morning, but also to have a good night’s sleep in the peaceful embrace of the re-energising earth.
However by the time we arrived, things began to go slightly awry. We unknowingly pitched our tents next to a large flying ants’ nest. We only discovered this when emptying our water bottles onto the grass nearby, which no doubt wasn’t a very nice experience for the ants. I mean who likes to have their home flooded?
Then we had a rather unpleasant experience with the staff when they told us we couldn’t use the picnic tables in the campground because we hadn’t purchased anything from the camp food store. The fact was that there were no other picnic tables anywhere else in the campground besides the ones next to reception. My dad explained that this was unreasonable given we’d paid 35 Euros for a mere site to pitch our tents for the night and besides, we already had our own food. The attendant at reception just pretended we were no longer there and all was well.
Despite the flying ants’ nest, unpleasant staff and the picnic table incident, the rest of the facilities were very nice. After a warm shower we turned off all our torches and let the light of the full moon guide our way back to our tents. While everyday of walking the Camino left us utterly exhausted and aching, it was moments like these that ignited our excitement and desire for adventure, leaving us always wanting more. We were 27 days in and yet every morning I woke with a deep sense of exploration, eager to see what would await us around every corner. As I closed my eyes to sleep, I wondered just what The Camino held in store for us tomorrow.