Camino Day 16: Ribadesella to La Isla

Just a few observations before we get started: 1) La Isla isn’t an island. 2) Mikey almost skipped the walk today. 3) Rain blows – especially when it’s blowing. 4) Considering said rain, we don’t have a lot of pictures of today.


Remember how we opened the windows last night to hear the rain? Yeah – it kept on through the night and didn’t let up. Mikey woke at 6am, looked outside, and climbed back into bed. 7, 8, and 9 o’clock all rolled by without any reprieve.


Now, we’re not talking about a slight and passing shower – this was a full on, set in, heavy rainstorm. Mikey knew that he didn’t have to check out until 12:30pm, so it was a watch and wait while looking up possible buses and trains. Yes, the point is to walk to Santiago, but this is also a vacation!


By 11am, the rain looked like a steady blowing mist. Second guessing himself quite earnestly, our pilgrim donned a backpack cover and rain jacket figuring that his shorts, bare legs, and waterproof trail shoes could just deal with it. Yeah, let’s give it a go and see what happpens.

(Statue of Jesus at the top of the Church of Mary Magdalene.)


If Mikey knows one thing about getting out of Dodge (in Spain 😉), you just have to find the church and you’ll see those yellow arrows pointing the way out. Well guess what? Some town has to be different. Yep, those damn arrows led Mikey in all the wrong directions.
Let’s also talk about how limited a pilgrim’s vision becomes in a downpour. If he’s not keeping his head down and eyes glued to the path (mostly looking for puddles or discolored mud – oh, that’s not mud, if you’re in a cow pasture!), then his hooded raincoat is severely limiting his perifial vision. As such, those famous yellow arrows and scallop shells are really hard to spot.


For argument’s sake, Mikey concedes that poor marking and slight user error might have worked in tandem this morning, but his Spanglish cursing was well warranted. I mean, turning circles in the old town area and getting no closer to the bridge (which was actually located steps from his hotel!) while stepping in puddle after gully really started to set him off. We were about 5 seconds from heading to the bus station (yep, managed to find that!) when a lone scallop shell marker appeared and we headed off towards the beach.


This was a good sized creek that we kept coming back to while lost in a park for half an hour. Grrr!


Once we finally found the right direction, Mikey decided to ignore the arrows and just walk west. I mean, Santiago is west, right? After a while, we stumbled upon the path and saw this creepy little thing:


Yes, we’re sure that he’s supposed to be comforting to pilgrims on the Camino, but he freaked Mikey out! I mean, a magical world that Mikey can’t see with some kind of guardian watching him? Sounds like The Hills Have Eyes!
Perhaps it wasn’t quite as creepy as the movie, but every time we passed one of these we definitely looked close for creepy little gnomes:


  These are actually storage sheds that Asturian farmers use for protecting grain and such. The idea is that if you seal it tight and elevate the silo, rats can’t get to it.


Well, in the modern era they seem more like a catch all for broken farm equipment. Still, there were cafe tables set up under a few in front of vacation rentals.
Wait…I’m only 8,300km from Seattle?! Accuracy aside, the more important part is the 356km from Santiago. That means our pilgrim has walked well over 450km so far. Damn – he missed the halfway point!
Distance aside, let’s talk longevity. This section of the path is from the original medieval Camino. For those at home whomare keeping count – that’s over 1000 years old.

Not that old, but this house was rocking it with the wagon wheels. (OK, the mobile home jokes are being suppressed right now.)


Not sure if its a good thing, but the Eucalyptus trees seem to be thriving everywhere here. Whether this non-native plant is affecting the indigenous species, rest assured that Mikey is on the constant lookout for rogue Spanish koalas.


Just a nice little bridge over a creek.


And then we were at the beach again. Yes, it had long since stopped raining, but the clouds remained ominous.


It was now almost 4pm and guess what you haven’t seen yet in today’s post? Food. Yep, Mikey was starving so when he espied the surf school he knew it would all be ok.


In case you were wondering, surfers love big waves and end up with equally big appetites. Behold the 9 inch tortilla sandwich! All carbs and so good.


This is a costal family farm that is still in operation. On the distant beach you can see the surf school conducting lessons. I guess its an interesting juxtaposition of living off the land then and now.


     That tortilla sandwich was probably the only thing that kept our walker walking. Because as soon as he spotted the church in the town of La Isla (and found out that notwithstanding its name, La Isla is not an island!) he nearly collapsed. Note to self: don’t start walking so late in the day.


Second note to self, no matter how much you like the UF Gators, do not paint your house in their color scheme.


After walking to the town albergue and being interrogated by a fellow pilgrim (“You did visit zee council house and obtain a stamp, ya? Vee all have to follow zee rules, ya?!”), Mikey backtracked across town and found “zee” council house where he registered and paid his 5€ for a bed before walking back across the village to said albergue. Grrr!


Having showered and washed clothes, this coffee menu at a hotel cafe was most welcomed. While he wanted to taste through everything, a simple latte sufficed to keep him awake through dinner.


And this was it. Honestly, the tortilla sandwich had been so filling that a simple salad was really all he wanted. Oh, that’s tuna by the way. Mikey ordered a “simple vegetable salad” and this is what he got. You see, in Spain, tuna is not considered meat so it is included in all manner of vegetarian dishes. Just a bit of olive oil and vinegar with a glass of Albariño was all it took and Mikey headed to bed hearing the distant rumbling of a coming storm.


Sleep well, dear reader.

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