The Long And Winding Road:

The hostel-keeper in Castro Urdailes was so nice that he practically tucked us into our top bunks. We’ve decided that the top bunks are definitely the way to go because, 1) you won’t get squished if the rickety old things decide to finally collapse, and 2) bed bugs burrow down. The albergue host asked why I didn’t want to use the pillow he provided me with. I said it was because I brought my own, but really it was because there were several long black hairs on the one he gave me and it was obviously unwashed from potentially many nights before our arrival. We’re horrified of bed bugs because the lady at REI that sold me my backpack said that her friend for bedbugs three separate times while hiking the Camino. Yikes!

This hostel had very odd sleeping arrangements because the hostel keeper was too nice to turn pilgrims away once the beds were full. Instead, there were several people camped out on the kitchen floor, and he even went so far as to let people put mattresses on the bathroom floors. Antwon’s friend Soulol, who had come to join him on the Camino in Castro Urdiales was one of the people that had the misfortune of sleeping on a mattress inside a bathroom. We met him as he and Antwon rolled out of bed, again the last ones to wake and get ready for the day. We had our first encounter with a food thief, who took our apples out of our closed grocery bag. We decided to let it slide since they left our turkey sandwiches for the day’s lunch in tact.

In the misty morning fog, the four of us set out for Liendo, our next stopping point. Once Soulol became acquainted and comfortable with us girls, he and Antwon began singing American songs with their accented falsetto voices. For the first few minutes it was rather funny, but after the first hour of listening to the French choir, I was at the end of a very short rope. The road to Liendo was all along the highway, and thus, the bottoms of my feet were getting really sore from pounding the pavement. Every time I stopped thinking about how bad my feet hurt, Antwon would remind me with complaints about his feet hurting.
“Owie, my feet are bleeding! I’m walking on pure bones,” the boys cried.

When the winding uphill highway came to an end in Liendo, I was happy to take off my boots and sit down with the boys for some Coca-Colas with lemon. I had been sweating too much in my thick socks and they were beginning to give me salt rash. We ate turkey and cheese sandwiches for the third day in a row, so they were starting to bore me. I was astonished when the three others wanted to keep walking to the next town after lunch. Though I didn’t want to pack up or put my boots back on, I was in a group, and the group majority vote was much more meaningful than my measly vote.

The road to the next town, Laredo, was long and winding for the next seven kilometers. It was shorter than the route we’d have to take if we walked along the highway, but it was more hilly according to the guidebook. At one point, while walking up a steep, seemingly endless hill, Aria said she thought she was actually getting asthma for the first time in her life. We all had to stop for another quick break once we finally reached the top. Panting in the mid-day sun, we continued our trek to the beach town so that we could take a dunk in the cool Atlantic.

When we reached the lookout-point where we could see the seaside village, we were all overjoyed. After asking someone for directions to an albergue, we descended over what seemed like miles of cobble-stone stairs. The elderly woman that was checking people in at the hostel gave us a never-ending speech about the rules and regulations apparent in her facility. She blubbered for an entire five minutes on all the techniques involved in opening the windows in our room. We rarely understood the her, but nodded regardless so we could get rid of her. Once we finally got released from her lecture, the sun was going down and the wind was picking up at the beach.

We felt like the Spanish had been cramming only bread, cheese, and questionable seafood down our throats thus far on our trip. To buy supplies for a much needed salad, we we went to a fruit and vegetable market. We sprinkled tuna over the top for some necessary protein that had been lacking from most of our meals. We ate in our hostel’s creepy dining room while the religious paintings on the walls all stared at us. The hostel was extremely eerie with hundreds of antique trinkets lining the shelves, life-size religious sculptures in every corner, crooked walls and wooden floors, dim lighting and dulled wallpaper, and many hidden stairwells that connected the maze-like structure. Though we had planned on taking a quick nap and heading to the beach to drink some wine with the boys, I guess we needed our beauty sleep more, as we ended up sleeping through the entire night.

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