Camino del Norte 2018 – Day 4/5

Camino del Norte

Day 4&5

Sept 6,7

Hola again,

Today Donna and I are sitting in the warm sunshine outside a wonderful albergue in Eskerika. We arrived at the 3:00pm opening time and were the first ones here. Donna had made a reservation which was a good idea as the proprietor says the place is full tonight. We were first into the shower plus for 3€ we gave the man all of our accumulated laundry to machine wash and dry. Our rain parkas hang on the line to dry beside our silk sleeping liners airing in the sunshine. 
I last wrote 2 days ago… from the city of Deba.

Deba is a coastal harbour town with a substantial breakwater protecting the river entrance and providing secure moorage for many small motor and sail boats. We stayed in the municipal Albergue which is in the historic train station. You need to apply at the tourist office in centro to pay the 5€ fee and to get a bed assignment. There are 56 beds and all were filled by the evening. They have a lounge area where we sat and listened to a young woman from Holland play violin. She started her Camino in Holland and had already carried her violin 1900km to Irun where we began the Norte. It is humbling for us to think that we are walking so far and then we meet people who have already walked 3 times as far. I played my harmonica along with her violin.

Sept 6

We left Deba by 6:20…. no coffee or breakfast..just up and go. There is an ancient foot bridge across the river right adjacent to the train station. This bridge has been closed recently as the middle is badly settled and dangerous. The alternative is the highway bridge but this is 1 km inland. We obeyed the warning signs and walked the 2 km around. Others simply walked through the barricades and crossed directly. From Deba the trail once again proceeds straight uphill on a very rough track. The rain water runs down the trail and washes out a rut and exposes the rocks. We used our headlamps until about 7:20 when it becomes light enough to walk safely. Donna’s headlamp stopped working properly so it was tough going for the first hour. 
The rain started lightly around 11:00, we elected to put our rain slickers on right away which was a good thing as the rain continued to fall even harder. 
It rained steadily all day…we walked up many hills including the last climb up to the Monastery… why do those monks always build their places on the top of the highest mountains!
The Monasteria de Zenarruza offers accommodation ‘Donativo’ what you can…or not. 
They have only 20 beds, we were the first ones to arrive at around 2:30. The monks were busy elsewhere and the office didn’t open until 4:00. By then there were at least 15 pilgrims waiting. 
We got our beds, put our wet things in the furnace room and had a shower. We met our fellow travelers and sat outside the church in a group. Dinner is provided by the monks also donativo and is served at 8:00. The rain started again before dinner so we had to move inside and set up two long tables to serve the 20 of us. 
We bought a one kilo round of cheese made by the monks plus some of their own wine. The monks also make beer which is very strong at 8%! This Monastery has been hosting pilgrims along the Camino Norte route for over 5 hundred years…all by donation. Another long email on a small phone. 

Sept 7

This morning we were up at 6:30 sharing bread and jam and coffee with our friends. The rain was coming down hard… we left at 7:20 when we thought it was light enough to walk safely. With just one headlamp we still had trouble negotiating the path through the forest. We walked all morning in steady rain and got quite wet from the inside from sweating since it remains very warm at around 25C. 
The rain slowed and with a few breaks we were able to shed our rain wear by noon. 
We walked a lot of steep hills again today…this seems to be the signature of this Camino…many elevation shifts. 
At 3:00 pm we were at the gate of our Albergue and ready for a rest after 8 hours of walking with our heavy packs. We stopped in Guernica to buy food for dinner tonight. Did a load of laundry and dried our things. 
Enough!All is well…we feel stronger each day and the forecast is for more sunny days ahead. 


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