No time to stand among the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows
It turns out that we weren't staying in Andrin at all, but in San Roque. I don't know how that happened: we were following the yellow arrow.
When I first arrived in the country almost 50 years ago, Canadians were second guessing themselves, and I never really understood what the expression meant. It's a strange idiom, and not one I grew up with. But I think that I was second guessing myself this morning as walked I out of town, turned back thinking I had missed a turning, and then turned around again realizing that I was right after all.
This happens to me a lot. Are there no markings because the path is so obvious that they are not necessary, or am I on the wrong road?
It was overcast as I left, but not raining. A chainsaw snarled in the distance, bringing down the gum trees, I suppose. I bet they wish they had stayed home where they would have been safe. No one would dream of using them in Australia for lumber. Not these gums. Someone told me once that Eucalypts had been brought into Spain in the nineteenth century for making furniture, but had proved unsuitable. Now they are everywhere, and many people assume that they are indigenous, including a respected historical novelist, who has the Romans passing through them.
A train rolled by, giving proud baritone blasts on its horn until suddenly it jumped a few octaves into a painful falsetto, as if someone had stepped on a tender part of its body.
I arrived in Llanes, a town where the urinals have bullseyes for target practice. Preben had left before me, but arrived almost an hour later. He had taken a scenic route. In view of the heavy climbing to come, and following his advice, I decided to buy a pair of hiking poles, and I spent the afternoon getting used to them.
By now the sun had come out from behind the clouds. I left town, passed a few cows standing forlornly in a sodden yard, not like pigs happy in their muck. And then through the village of Poo, where I didn't stop, but continued down a stony path to a magnifient, wild stretch of coastline, where I paused at a ruined building, only an arch and a wall remaining, overlooking a massive rock just offshore. Was it a farmhouse, a barn, a chapel, a fortification, I wondered. Who has lived in this place? Who fought here? Cantabrians, Asturians, Galicians? Romans, Moors?
It never ceases to amaze me, the miraculous fact that I am here at all, so many branches of my ancestral family having been snuffed out by pestilence, famine and war.
Fortified by that profound thought and a beer at Celorio, I followed the road through town around to the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de los Dolores, and then up into the woods, down to the road, past the ruined monastery, and then along the magnificent beach of San Antolin. Then it was then a very pleasant walk along a narrow lane through several villages until we reached the town of Nueva.
A troop of cows came towards us, led by a very cheery fellow who invited us to take a photo, and we squashed ourselves up against a wall to let them pass. There must have been method in the farmer's madness. He was towing that particular cow for a reason, for a bull followed meekly behind. The rest of the herd jostled one another and a young lad, not so cheery, followed behind, corralling the rebels who would break away seeking greener pastures
Here at Nueva, we are staying at the Casa Principada, hosted by an enterprising old man who drives out along the Camino each day, handing out cards advertising his habitaciones. He has to be enterprising because he faces stiff completion, particularly from pensions that the pilgrims see first on entering town. He beats the competition by offering a slightly cheaper rate (€12.50) and including laundry.