Camino del Norte – Day 3 – Orio to Zumaia, 16km

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10th September, 2019

  • Day 3: Orio to Zumaia
  • Distance: 16km
  • Weather: Stormy until late afternoon
  • Accommodation: Albergue de Zumaia Convento de San José, € donation

I wake up throughout the night to loud booms of thunder. The room is constantly lit up with lightning and the albergue door is creaking. The wind is trying to get in and it sounds ferocious. Dogs are howling in the distance. This is some crazy storm. I fall back to sleep and wake at the more reasonable hour of 7am with pilgrims now starting to rouse. It’s still dark outside and although I can’t see the rain from my lower bunk bed, I can hear that it’s torrential. ‘This is just one of those days you need to accept you’re going to get wet,’ I say to myself.

I pack and sit under cover on a bench outside the albergue to eat breakfast – the leftover baguette with jamon and an apple. When I finish, I bend over to put my ankle brace and shoes on and the small black house cat that’s shivering from the cold and rain, jumps on my lap. After clawing at my leggings for a bit, it curls up and falls asleep. My shoelaces stay undone for the next 15 minutes while I enjoy the feline company. The rain isn’t letting up.

Eventually a young Spanish pilgrim passes me, spots the cat and comments, so I take the opportunity to quickly transfer the cat to her lap. I put my poncho on and leave in the heavy rain.

The only picture I took on the walk today (on my phone) because of the constant heavy rain

The only picture I took on the walk today (on my phone) because of the constant heavy rain

The rain lasts all day and I take the opportunity to get out of it at the post office in Zarautz. Bye bye tripod, I hope to be reunited with you when I get back to London. The rain is so heavy I don’t even get my camera out of my pack and only snap one quick photo on my phone.

At one point I pass a pilgrim changing her wet socks under the cover of a bus stop. ‘My poncho must be working, thank goodness my socks are still dry,’ I think to myself as I pass. Ten minutes later there’s a squelching sound coming from my sodden shoes.

In Getaria, I stop at a busy pintxos bar for a second breakfast; a slice of tortilla, a ham croquette and an Americano. I meet a nice man called Nev from the UK and he asks me, “Where in America are you from?” I get this question a lot, which baffles me as I’m Australian but I’ve been living in London for 12 years so it’s possible I’ve picked up a small twang of English. We have the usual Camino small chat – how busy it is, how we weren’t expecting such large numbers of pilgrims at this time of year, where have you come from and where are you headed?… I don’t know where I’m headed today but if this rain doesn’t ease up, I might be staying at the first place I can find a bed!

Albergue de Zumaia Convento de San José

Albergue de Zumaia Convento de San José

Arriving in the next town of Zumaia at the early hour of 1pm (and after only 16km), I decide to veer straight to the convent albergue to see if there are any beds. I’m surprised there are no other pilgrims in sight but then I notice the sign on the gate with the opening hours. It doesn’t open until 3pm. Do I stay or do I go? A few more pilgrims arrive and we huddle together out of the rain under the cover of the gate. Two people decide to leave their packs and go for coffee. Shortly after, I decide this is a good idea and I too leave my pack in the queue (I take my daypack with my passport and camera).

I warm up with a hot chocolate in a nearby cafe. At 2.15pm, the rain has just started to ease off so I go back to the convent only to find the gate open and my pack sitting in a puddle of water. It’s completely drenched! Hmm, another lesson to be learnt? The pilgrim who stands in the queue in the rain gets the bed… I join a very long queue and cross my fingers.

Boot rack in the entrance at Albergue de Zumaia Convento de San José

Boot rack in the entrance at Albergue de Zumaia Convento de San José

I finally reach the check-in desk and hand over my passport and credential to an elderly volunteer. He writes my details down in a thick notebook, holds onto my passport for the time being, then waves me off while saying ‘ocho.’ I take off my soaking shoes and place them on the rack at the entrance, slot my hiking poles into the bucket, then go in search of what I assume must be room #8.

I’m the last to arrive in a room with three single beds and join Tessa and Svenya from Germany. Funnily enough, I met these girls walking from the train station in Hendaye to the albergue in Irun but we didn’t really chat at the time. The Camino can be like that… maybe it’s just me but sometimes you meet people a few times before starting a conversation and then realise you have a lot in common and ask yourself why didn’t I have the courage to say something earlier? Like when you have a book sitting on the shelf that you haven’t read, and when you finally do, you think to yourself why didn’t I read this ages ago? Maybe it just wasn’t the right time. Until it was.

Tessa and I have a long chat and then I go and do my Camino ‘chores’ before heading out to find dinner. I’d really like a meal for dinner, no more tortilla please.

Albergue de Zumaia Convento de San José

Albergue de Zumaia Convento de San José

My bed at Albergue de Zumaia Convento de San José

My bed at Albergue de Zumaia Convento de San José

I walk around Zumaia trying to find a restaurant, but it’s 6pm, and once again it’s just too early for any restaurants to be open. So guess what’s for dinner?

I couldn't find any restaurants open early for dinner, so (another) slice of tortilla, olives and a glass of Albariño will do!

I couldn’t find any restaurants open early for dinner, so (another) slice of tortilla, olives and a glass of Albariño will do!

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