After spending a day and a half in the medieval town and among the Paleolithic art, it was now time for us to move out of the past and into our future.
Our future was 23 km away in a coastal town of Comillas. The morning walk was peaceful and uneventful.
We passed some small towns, each with a park and benches to sit and rest at. Some historic churches were along the way, unfortunately all of them closed at the time.
We even found a town with a cafe around 10 km and enjoyed a nice break and some fried eggs, mirroring our walks from the Camino Frances.
Another 2 km and we were at the first beach. The temptation was great to just settle down for the day but it was only 11 am and we were not ready to call it a day.
The sun mixed with the ocean breeze were a good combination, and we would have been happy to pause and enjoy them if we had only had another 5 km to go. However, we needed to go another 10+ km more, with hills, before we could stop.
After 23 km, we reached Comillas, our planned destination for the day. Tired and hungry, we were hoping to settle down but no such luck. The alburgue was full, and the 7+ pensions, hostels, and hotels that I checked were all “completo” (full). The fellow behind the counter at the albergue said the whole town was “completo.”
Fortunately a lady was sitting at the alburgue, with an offer to stay at her house for a reasonable price. I was not about to walk around town for another hour looking for a place, so we accepted. Turns out she has a clean and well-furnished bedroom in a nice apartment complex, and we are happy and fortunate to be off our feet.
It is mind boggling to imagine the art work preserved from 15,000 years ago. The people lived here from as early as 36,000 years ago. The caves were naturally sealed off 13,000 years ago due to a rock slide and were discovered again in 1879.
It is amazing to see the desire and creativity for art that has existed in our psyche that far back.
When we entered, we discovered that the paintings were on the ceiling, not on the walls. It is believed they were first imagined as shapes of a bison standing, or a bison curled up sleeping, or a female animal that is pregnant–then outlined with charcoal and rubbed with the mineral ochre for color. Sometimes also etching. The natural cracks and shapes on the ceiling gave dimension. These paintings were constructed over the timeframe of over ten thousand years!
The morning walk out of town was peaceful and quite. All the tourists were still sleeping. Occasional pilgrims were heading out for their next stage while we were without our backpacks heading to the cave museum.
After the cave we sat down in an outdoor restaurant to enjoy a leisurely lunch.
We are thinking of embracing the Spanish culture fully today. We may succumb to the siesta after this big meal!
In Noja, we are close to Santander, the Capitol of Cantabria. Fortunately the approach to Santander is by ferry, so we can walk there without crossing the concrete jungle. Since Noja is still about 34 km from Santander, we will make it a point to visit a much talked-about albergue about 17 km away, in Guemes: Albergue la Cabana del Abuelo Peuto.
We left Noja early as the night was turning into the day.
Today was probably the easiest day that we have had. Most of the way was through country roads and paths full of lush green pastures and valleys.
As we made our first stop, these beauties, the horses, came by the road to visit us.
Around 10 or so the sky looked socked-in and we had a downpour. Fortunately, we were near our only cafe of the day so we could enjoy part of the downpour from the comfort of the balcony while having coffee and cake.
The rest of the walk was stunningly beautiful panoramic views of pastures and green valleys.
We were greeted at the Alburgue by water and biscuits. After settling in we were offered a community lunch. The albergue was created by Pastor Ernesto, who grew up in this house. We will have a community meeting at 7:30 followed by a community dinner. All of this is “donativo,” meaning, give what you think it is worth to you. This is an oasis that we are enjoying with other pilgrims.