Camino del Norte, Days 9-10: Cantabria

Pobeña to Castro Urdiales: 15 km

Castro Urdiales to Liendo: 25 km

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“I’d forgotten this part of Camino life,” I wrote in my journal on the 9th day of walking. “When the magic becomes normal, the feeling that walking is the way that I live now. The steady pattern of walk-eat-sleep-repeat. Take care of your feet. Soak in the sun. Be nice to your neighbors. Remember to look around. Just be.”

We’d come 180 kilometers already, and the rhythm was established, but the Norte refused to be taken for granted. As we left Basque Country behind and entered Cantabria, the geology changed. The rocks in the cliffs were more gray, the earth was drier. Even the cows seemed different. The rain stopped, and the sun sparkled on the ocean that popped up every few hours.

We spent a day surrounded by our Camino family, and a day walking alone, meeting new friends in a municipal albergue full of Germans. (Seriously. There were 18 Germans, 1 British woman, 1 Spanish man, and us.)

Sure, there were moments when we slogged along the shoulder of a busy road that curved precariously around sharp corners, with little space for us and the speeding cars passing by. There were grumpy moments when I wanted a rest or a cup of coffee or (most important) a bathroom. There were dull moments when the road Just. Kept. Going.

But with a few weeks of distance, those parts of the Camino fade, and what I’m left with are these snapshots of heart-stopping beauty.

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A green tunnel leads us up and out of Pobeña 
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Sunrise on the water. Those dots in the water are surfers, catching the first waves of the day.
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Goats in high places (the rock on the top right)
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Goats in low places
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Cows everywhere. The Camino del Norte has a surprisingly lax attitude about fences.
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Can’t go over it, can’t go around it, so let’s go through it
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The old and the new collide
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The rocks are gray in Canbria, but no less dramatic
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The moment when you crest the final hill and see your destination spread before you
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The ocean pilgrims
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Our Camino family in Castro Urdiales. We split here, with some going farther ahead and some staying behind. But we were never apart for more than a day or two.
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The cathedral, disappointingly locked even on a busy Saturday afternoon
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Castro Urdiales seawall
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Protected by both a fortress and a cathedral
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Imagine what it took to carve those steps a few hundred years ago
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Watch your step
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Another perfect dawn
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We can see which way the wind blows. Passing pilgrims took turns standing at that fence on a point, looking out over the ocean 
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And then, at the end of it all, a warm room, a decent mattress, and the promise of another day
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4 thoughts on “Camino del Norte, Days 9-10: Cantabria

  1. Beautiful photos, it really makes me feel the breeze and see the sights, the boats, the cows, I’m transported. I also love the pic of your family. Amazing how we can form beautiful bonds with people through walking a couple of days with someone, even becoming a long term friend that lives on the other side of the world, shout out to Miss Helen 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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