So the day began again at 6am. But, as Mikey was leaving San Sebastián, he passed about a hundred teenagers who were just then stumbling out of the beachside discotheques – oh to be young!
(I ❤️you, Mom!)
Like yesterday, there were few facilities where one could purchase food or refill water bottles. Still, “the Camino provides.” A kind soul had set up this water station right near the place where Mikey was almost out of water. Whoever you are, thanks.
After playing Dr. Doolittle, Mikey charged on and found this jewel. The Hermitage of Saint Martin of Tours is a chapel which dates back to the 16th century. It was closed, but the porch provided needed shade for a break from the elements.
After breakfast, we walked out of Orio (not before Mikey inquired and learned that the town has nothing to do with the cookie, but is refering to the river which runs through it) and the view was still great.
The only catch was that, while walking and alone in his thoughts, a much older and topless sunbather approached Mikey to ask if he was headed to Santiago. Stuttering and trying to keep eye contact lest he be plagued with nightmares for years, Mikey replied in the affirmative. “Santiago is that way,” she laughed and with a curt “Gracias,” Mikey about-faced and sped away from the naked crone.
While Mikey was excited about spending the day and night here, it didn’t work out. Apparently, the town was hosting an annual half Ironman competition and every hostel and hotel room was sold out.
Speaking of seafarers, the town of Getaria is home to Juan-Sebastián de Elcano. In case you were wondering, he was the guy who sailed with Magellan to circumnavigate the globe. Cool, right?
Of course! But he led a mutiny and got locked below deck for a few months. Later, Magellan freed him and gave him command over one of his ships. Upon Magellan’s death mid-voyage, Elcano took command and finished the mission. Yeah, Basque history can be surprising.
After the smails, Mikey wandered around the village and happened upon a game of Pelota. As such, here’s your next impromptu Basque history lesson for the day:
While King Louie over in France was wrapping balls of yarn in cloth and trying to develop a rudimentary form of tennis, the Basques were mastering a fast-paced form of handball that was much more interesting and egalitarian as all could play. The main difference between Louie and the Basques was that the latter were already trading directly in New World rubber by the early 16th century. Formed into a ball, this product had an extra bounce that made it possible to play off of hard surfaces like walls – Louie’s balls would have just dropped to the ground.
Since the game was homegrown, accessible to anyone with a ball, and fast paced, it became the Basques’ national pastime. Ergo, one would be hard pressed to find a Basque village WITHOUT a Pelota or Jai Alai court at its center.
As you’ll note from the video, the players have a hard, mitt-like hand protection. While this is a more modern feature of Pelota, most of the other aspects and rules of the game have remained unchanged for centuries.
After catching a couple Pelota matches, Mikey wandered into the Old District to try some seafood pintxos. The bruschetta-looking thing is Pork Belly, Mushroom, and Red Pepper on bread, in the shell is Stuffed Scallop, and the hairy looking bowl is Stuffed Sea Urchin. Wow!
So I guess the unexpected sojourn in Getaria could be summed up as good food, good views, and even good conversation while doing laundry with an Irishman.
And then Mikey went to bed.