To get from San Esteban to Soto de Luina, we had to go off the beaten path again. Though the trip would be a little longer, we knew we were making the best decision because it would be along the coastal cliffs the entire way. Our morning venture started up a narrow set of rickety stairs that wrapped along the rocky outcroppings of the Atlantic. The sun was just coming up over the horizon, so we definitely took a few breaks while climbing. By a few breaks I mean we probably took at least ten in order to catch our breaths. We’re still not really used to the intensive hill-climbing because most of the Camino thus far has been pretty flat. I guess the name “Camino,” meaning “walk,” should have given that factor away.
The part of Spain that we’re in right now has laws that give public right of way to the beaches and coastlines. Because of this, there are many sweet little paths lining the ocean’s edge. We dipped down into a beautiful beach park where multiple families were preparing party activities. There was a massive beach cabana where the smell of fresh omelettes drew us in from afar. Since we’ve been practically forced to drink coffee with every meal, we’ve become completely reliant and needed our morning dosage. It was Independence Day in the United States, and we didn’t have anyone to celebrate with us. We asked some people to take pictures of us making USA letters with our hands. They looked at us in a peculiar way as we seemingly threw up gang-signs.
We planned on lunching in Cudillero, which was voted as one of Spain’s nicest fishing villages. It was nestled deep within a ravine and the tight-winding road seemed like it took forever to wrap down to the marina. The town square was perfectly encircled by colorful houses that were staggered up the cliffs. We noticed that most of the houses shared a wall with the house on either side of it. Many houses, up on the hills, were caving in as they were built before building standards and codes. However, the city-center was lively and very well maintained. We thought about staying the night here because it was so dreamy and nautical, but food and hospitality were too expensive for our likings.
The entire walk along the coast was gorgeous, even though we were huffing and puffing up and down hills. Our books didn’t walk about the route we took at all, and often times there were no arrows. We followed only our intuition and personal sense of direction most of the time. The sights were absolutely worth the detour and several moments of quizzical confusion. We were happy that we decided to pave our own path away from the standard Camino for the last few days. Sometimes, you have to stray from the norm in order to find a better “way” for yourself, but that’s a life-lesson, not just regarding the Camino.
When we arrived at the albergue, I said a little prayer in my mind asking, “PLEASE don’t let this be the place where we sleep. PLEASE!” The decaying old train station had shattered windows, layers of weathered peeling-paint and the Spanish jungle looked as if it was trying to claim the building for itself. My prayers were not answered. No one seemed to smile at this albergue. Maybe it was because everyone was tired from their day’s journey, or maybe it was because they were trying not to wake whatever beast that lived within the weathering walls.
A little boy dressed all in red followed us down the streets of the old town all the way to a creepy building that was located at the top of the hill. He smiled wickedly and repeated, “chicas… chicas… chicas…” as he clung to our every movement. Luckily, we quickly joined a table of English-speaking people just as he caught up to us. He repeated the word as he stared at us across the gathering, and chuckled violently at the conversation he didn’t understand. It was at this moment that I knew this town was haunted and that possibly, we were going to die.
We were taking turns rinsing the creepy vibes away in the shower when suddenly Aria ran out screeching illegible words. She tried explaining what she saw to me, but I couldn’t comprehend between her gasps for air and her rapid pace. Finally, she calmed down and was able to tell me that inside her wadded up towel, she found four live bedbugs full of human blood. This has been her absolute worst fear revolving around the trip, and now it was realized. We immediately ripped our bags apart and searched every inch of our belongings for the blood-sucking creatures. None were found, but the possibility of eggs surviving still lingered in our minds.