October 14, 2015
Guemes to Santander: 9 miles
Today’s walk was along the coastline and largely within view of the aqua-colored water, where we watched the waves crashing violently against the rocks. As usual, it was gorgeous.
We started walking with Heidi and Ann, a young couple from Cologne, Germany. We had met them in Liendo a few days prior and then again last night. While we’d engaged in small talk here and there over the past several days, it was Dale’s silliness that broke the ice today and got us really interacting.
The lot of us who stayed the night in the albergue gathered for breakfast in the dining room this morning, where bread, butter, jam, and bite-sized cookies had been placed on the table for our breakfast (this is a pretty typical desayuno in the albergues). The cookies were tasty little pastries filled with chocolate, and we were all enjoying them. Ann, who sat across from us, was teasingly chiding Heidi that she had left the outside door open. At hearing this, Dale pulled the cookies out of Heidi’s reach and, in his best Soup Nazi tone of voice, said, “No cookies for you!”
Heidi looked at him with shock, probably trying to understand why this crazy man sitting across from her was denying her access to these tiny morsels of joy. Both young ladies quickly realized that he was teasing them, and it became a joke that lasted throughout breakfast, with Heidi putting on her best pout and playing along, all the while sneaking cookies from under Dale’s nose.
After breakfast, we left the albergue and started our hike at roughly the same time and walked much of the day together.
By the time we reached Santander in the late afternoon, the four of us had become hiking companions. We hung out in Santander with them, exploring the city, eating churros, and finding some really good pinchos for supper.
Both Heidi and Ann are physiotherapists (the equivalent to a physical therapist in the US), but Heidi is going back to school to get her teaching degree. Since we all have a background in the health professions, we discussed the healthcare systems of Germany and America. Like many European countries, Germany has a great nationalized healthcare program, but German healthcare workers get paid painfully less than those in America. Ironically, teachers get paid significantly more than physiotherapists (hence Heidi’s decision to leave PT and go into teaching). As we spent more time with them, we learned more and more about Germany, and it was fascinating to compare and contrast our two countries.
What we found as the day progressed is that we had a lot in common with these awesome women, and we liked them very much. They are both sincere, funny, generous people. Ann is enthusiastic and playful; Heidi has a dry sense of humor that is pleasantly surprising. Ann has traveled quite a bit more than Heidi, to places as diverse as China and South Africa. This is in part due to Heidi’s tendency to get motion sickness on anything that moves.
We were hoping to make friends on this journey and have made several so far, with Ann and Heidi being two of our favorites. That is what the Camino is all about, not just the covering miles or seeing the countryside, but also developing friendships that may last a lifetime.