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 began the day on the coast and stayed there for much of the time, enjoying breathtaking views of the Bay of Biscay, which is the enormous body of water that runs along the length of the northern Spanish and western French coastlines.
The guidebook’s description of today’s leg of the journey was less than inspiring: “As you slog through the first half of today’s stage, remind yourself that by day’s end you will be in a beautiful place…. Sometimes bleak, often forgettable, the walk… is poorly way-marked and best finished quickly and put behind you.”
We were excited about today’s destination: Bilbao. The week before starting the Camino, Dale and I had spent a night in Bilbao with our friend Tamara, and it had been a great experience. We stayed at an Air B&B apartment in the city’s historic city center, known as the Seven Streets, and it was charming, with lots of restaurants, panaderias, pastelerias, and even a chocolateria or two. And it was in Bilbao that we were introduced to the sublime pleasure of eating Basque food.
It was bound to happen at some point during the hike: total meltdown.
All the PMA that I had channeled on the previous days wasn’t going to get me anywhere today. Not meditation, not smiling, not listening to the wind flowing through the branches or the birds singing in the trees. Uh-uh. None of it was working.