Thursday, 2 July 2009

Reflections Along the Coast

The first two days of the walk from Santander to Santillana are, quite frankly, boring! The modern Camino is on tarmac for the whole of this stretch and the area around Torrelavega is heavily industrialised. It would be possible to shorten this walk by using the pavement from Oruna to Requejada, or even taking the narrow-gauge railway from Santander to Requejada!
Once Cobreces is reached there is the feeling of being on a straight road! Only a feeling mind, the Way still winds around but at least goes in a westerly direction.
Do we have a 'built in' sense of direction? I took a small compass with me and only used it a couple of times in the rain and mist, when I felt that I was heading the wrong way. And I was right both times! Certainly, when on the old track-ways I had a feeling of being on the right road. The times when I went astray were in the city of Oviedo, on diversions that stopped the waymarks halfway, and on 'pavimiento' in the pouring rain when I missed a 'mojon' (concrete marker post).
In Comillas in the rain I saw a lone peregrino looking puzzled in the main square, a young 'gap year' German called Sven. He spoke excellent English but hardly any Spanish! After a welcome 'cafe con leche' I asked a taxi driver the way out of town - easy! From there we walked some 20 kilometres together to San Vicente de la Barquera.
Once past Colombres there is a beautiful coast path (not on the ancient camino) that goes most of the way to Llanes. From Buelna through to Sebrayo is what I will for ever think of, as the 'Camino de la Costa'.

Lessons learnt early in the Camino were: -
Don't ignore your 'gut feeling'. If it feels wrong, it most probably is wrong!
Don't be afraid to ask the way. The best people are taxi drivers rather than the police. The taxi drivers know all the shortcuts, legal and illegal!
As far as possible always speak to people in their language. If they know yours they will happily practise on you, which may make them more difficult to understand.

In Christian terms this last point could be called 'Incarnational Theology'. When God wanted to communicate with the human race He didn't sit on a cloud and shout. He sent His Son born of a woman, a human being like us; speaking our language.

The things we learn about on Pilgrimage!

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