October 13, 2015
Noja to Guemes: 10 miles
We had another beautiful walk through the lovely Cantabrian countryside. The people of Cantabria are very friendly, the older people especially. Most greet us when we pass them on the street, and they don’t hesitate to stop and ask us about our destination ahead or where we’ve been. My Spanish is still limited but improving thanks to all the locals who are giving me opportunities to practice.
We stayed at what is supposed to be one of the most iconic albergues on the Camino, La Cabana del Abuelo Peuto. The term albergue refers to hostels specifically for peregrinos, and there are two types on the Camino: the “official” ones, which are non-profit and run by either municipalities or churches, and the ones that are privately owned and operated. Both offer a dorm-style sleeping arrangement, communal kitchen area, and very affordable price. The official albergues are typically donativo, based on donations from the peregrinos who stay there. The private albergues are usually a little more expensive but still dirt cheap (10-15 Euros, typically, or a little more if meals are included). Other options for housing include youth hostels, pensiónes (low-budget hotels), and of course regular hotels, but the goal is to keep the Camino experience affordable and communal, and the albergues best meet these objectives.
La Cabana del Abuelo Peuto is a private albergue situated in the owner’s home, a house that has been in the family for more than 100 years. Our guidebook described it as a must-stay, saying that “the post-dinner gathering often leads into storytelling and song.” The facilities were beautiful, and it was one of the nicest albergues we’ve experienced so far. Unfortunately, there was no lively story telling or singing after dinner (bummer), but the staff and volunteers were very hospitable. We were welcomed by this gorgeous beast when we walked up the driveway:
…and volunteers greeted us at the door with cold water and cookies. Nice.
Many peregrinos showed up that afternoon, and we met people from Germany, Croatia, Mexico, Canada, France, and Spain. We would end up spending the next three days with two of these people, Heidi and Ann from Germany. Despite the lack of festive sing-alongs, our evening spent in Guemes was lovely!