Day 1 Ribadesella – Colunga
We’re pilgrims… Come what may we’re walking towards Santiago again and with a fair wind and good fortune we should make it before mid-October.
I’ve been nervous about setting out our plans. So much has happened in just a few short months; the world has changed forever and it’s sadder for that loss. I was getting on a train to visit a very dear friend when I had a phone call to say my father had died. He was a terrible father but his death stirred memories long since buried, and to be honest, life is easier with them tucked away where they can do no harm. After sorting his affairs I returned to France where the news from my friend was awful. We shared a few weeks of tea and cake and laughed at old exploits but far too quickly she died. I have no idea how her family are coping with her death because I miss her so much. I find myself crying in the supermarket and just wishing she was still here. She has been with me on three caminos and quite simply I really miss her.
So plans changed and I keep reminding myself to be grateful that I have the luxury of making other plans. More sad news has followed… And then more. Life is cruel and unpredictable and hard and again I have to remind myself to value all that I have… Because it can change in a heartbeat.
So plans changed. But we did get here. A few days ago we decided to return to Ribadesella on the Norte and walk to Oviedo and from there continue (we hope) to Santiago.
We drove down and parked in Oviedo. We then hopped on an Alsa for a short ride to our first night. It’s our third visit to Ribadesella but still we found new streets to explore. In the church I put a euro in the slot to turn on the lights and view the painted ceilings. Little did I know the lights came with a booming commentary that made the two old ladies in front of us jump. It was so loud that we felt we had to leave with embarrassment but we could still hear it booming half way down the street… So consider yourselves warned!
We set the alarm this morning for 6:45. We might make it later tomorrow as it was dark when we left. We walked around the huge bay at Ribadesella, hoping for a bar but we were out of luck, so we followed a couple of other pilgrims out through the suburbs and into the open countryside. Birds tweeted and a morning mist hung over fields with bleating sheep and cows with their customary bells. We could smell wild honeysuckle (a smell that reminded us so much of last years walk) and we passed countless abandoned orchards with their fruit just out of reached.
A few weeks ago I organised a taster camino for a group of 6 would-be pilgrims. (they were amazing and I loved every minute). Whilst walking to Roncesvalles I invented a new game called ‘rock or sheep’… It’s kind of self explanatory… Well today Gerry invented a similar game called ‘leaf or poo’… Let me assure you that I only ever stood on a leaf but the same cannot be said for my walking Buddy. (I’ll let these photos speak for him)
On we meandered through beautiful countryside following yellow arrows and feeling happy with our lot. I think that we are pretty lucky because our walking pattern is so similar. I told Gerry he was my most favorite walking partner… He said he was glad because I was his and he started humming Sonny and Cher. So on we walked, hand in hand, listening to I Got You Babe on Spotify and before we knew it we were back at the coast.
We stopped for a quick coffee before setting off once again along more coastal path. Up and down we went and fortunately we eve found a cool stream where Gerry could wash the ‘leaf’ from his toes and leg.
We ambled on into a small town with an unexpected coffee stop before heading off once more to coastal paths, lots of surfer dudes and more spectacular views. I think we’d forgotten how stunning this coast is; what a joy to be walking today. There was a surfer cafe close to the beach and although it was midday we decided to walk on a little and deviate away from the Camino to the little town of Isla. There, beside the sea, we had a lunch of cold drinks and tortilla patata before moving on to our little diversion. The plan was to follow the coastal path and avoid 4km of road walking. Somewhere I think we deviated from the diversion and stayed on the cliff path for too long? We did an extra 4 kilometres but hey ho… they were spectacular… Albeit a little warm!
I’m pleased to report that I coped admirably with the cliff edges without a single pause or squeal. The only hairy moment came not from heights but bees! The path took us right through a nest with a great number of buzzy bees. I hesitated. The nest was at ground level and the thought of running through with them nipping at my heels didn’t give me the happiest of thoughts. For some crazy reason I decided it would be better to run through in my trousers rather than shorts. So at a safe distance I pulled my trousers over my shoes and shorts and ran… And actually I managed to keep running until we were right over the hill. Gerry then had the unlucky task of trying to pull off my trousers over my walking shoes, (because I had been too lazy to take the shoes off ). Luckily there were no other Pilgrims around to witness the spectacle!
It was by now really heating up so we we were very happy for the trail to end and lead us on to a road… Which eventually lead us back to the yellow arrows.
Adopting the policy of beer or bed (which ever comes first) we stopped for a cold drink… Fortune favours hot pilgrims in need of refreshments.
We are now resting (some of us could even be sleeping) in our little casa rural… Only 40€ for a spotlessly clean double room. Menu de dia is only 10€ but isn’t served until 8pm… there’s a supermarket next door so my gut feeling is that we won’t be going too far this evening. It’s been a fabulous first day, my fitbit says I’ve walked 26.6 kilometres and I am very happy to be a Pilgrim once more.