October 20, 2015
Ribadesella to Colunga, 12 miles
The trail took us along beautiful coast and through green farmland, yet despite how pretty it was, we found as the morning progressed that neither of us had the heart for hiking today.
We were both fatigued from yesterday’s long, crazy day. And then the mud came. Thanks to yesterday’s heavy rain, we were faced with walking through several miles of the muckiest, thickest mud you’ve ever seen. Our belongings were still wet from yesterday, and now we were also filthy.
We had planned to go a total of 18 miles to the town of Sobraya, yet when we reached Colunga mid-afternoon, we decided to stay. With its numerous cafes, affordable hotels, open grocery stores, and general signs of life and human contact, Colunga was just too appealing. We were soon settled into a cute hotel.
Turns out the only thing that Colunga didn’t have was a laundromat, something we sorely needed. Dale found a listing for one on Google maps, but when we reached the place in town where it was supposed to be, there was no evidence of it.
We asked a very elderly woman sitting at a nearby bus stop if she might know where the laundromat was. It took a few moments for her to understand exactly what we were looking for, with me struggling to communicate in Spanish and Dale contributing some pantomime (putting coins into an imaginary slot, pouring soap into an imaginary washing machine) but then a light went off in her eyes. She stood up from her perch on the bench and walked us to the corner, then pointed us in the opposite direction of where the laundromat was supposed to be, which was followed by a rapid stream of directions in Spanish. She talked and gesticulated and nodded her head to ensure that I understood (which I didn’t, not fully).
Finally she gave up, took my arm, and started leading us up the hill. Along the way she met several people she knew and stopped to talk to them. She was very slow, and with each step she moved further and further away from the bus stop; we were worried that by helping us she might miss what was probably the last bus of the day. When I communicated our concern to her, she responded, “Ah no, I was waiting for her,” and she gestured to a woman who was approaching us and eyeing us with curiosity. Our elderly companion quickly explained the situation to her friend, and the second woman volunteered to take us the rest of the way, for which I think all of us were grateful. We thanked the first woman profusely and then followed the second woman, who wasn’t much younger, up the hill. We took a path that I never would have gotten via verbal directions, down a side street and behind an industrial complex, and she finally brought us to the laundromat, which was actually a commercial site that did laundry for businesses. Despite our confusion, our guide’s work was done, and she bid us adios and disappeared. The employee offered to wash and dry our small bag of clothes for 10 Euro, a tempting offer given how rank everything was, but that was more than we wanted to spend, so we declined and went back to the hotel room and washed everything by hand.
It was humid in the room, and our wet clothing dampened the air even further, but we were clean, our clothes were mud-free, and we had a fresh supply of food from the grocery store and a comfortable room in which to relax for the evening. That’s exactly what we did–we put our feet up, worked on the blog, watched a movie, and then got a good night’s sleep in a comfortable double bed with real pillows and crisp, white sheets. What a luxury!