Zauratz to Getari
About 3.5 miles
Elevation gain – 0
I woke up in quite a funk this morning. I didn’t feel well, my body was tired and I still haven’t slept well. Most of all, my heart was missing home.
The hotel was fine, but lacked AC, which isn’t uncommon in the region as the temperatures are generally fairly moderate. My room lacked a window to the outside world, however. Instead, my window opened into some sort of open air stairwell in the center of the building, the structure of which reminded me of a mine elevator. Air flow was minimal at best. After showering the night before, the humidity level was high, resulting in a night of rwaking every hour in a pool of sweat.
I tried to sleep in, but considering the humidity and general discomfort, wasn’t really an option.
Grumpy and tired, I make my way down to breakfast. It had escaped me the night before the hotel breakfast started at 8am and was buffet style. I walked into the dining room a few minutes after 8 to an absolute mad house. There were 40 people all trying to get food at the same time, it was crowded, people were loud and rude to each other. You would think these people hadn’t eaten in a week. I was no mood for the chaos so I went and found a table and waited for the hyenas to finish devouring their prey.
Much to my chagrin most of the initial offerings of the buffet were depleted. I felt exceptionally bad for the single server trying to replenish the buffet amidst the demands of the apparently starving people. I have not seen similar behavior in Spain; I was caught completely by surprise. A few angry words were exchanged with the server amongst a sea of glaring eyes at directed at this poor lady. Who the hell were these people and where were their manners?
After about 20 minutes, she managed to catch up with the backlog of requests, and replenished the depleted buffet. I made my way to the buffet to grab my breakfast just about the time, HALF the hyenas returned to the buffet to stuff their plates full of food again. They started aggressively crowding me. I wasn’t having it. I made myself as large as possible and intimidating. It was clear to those in my immediate vicinity, if you tried to push by me, you were going to find yourself missing a limb.
I was given my space.
The food was adequate. The coffee and orange juice ranking among the best. The breakfast was included with the room, so I didn’t have to wait for a bill. As I walked by the exasperated server, I handed her 5 euro. She tried to refuse but I wasn’t having any of it. She finally took it and smiled big. She knew I understood the circumstance she was in.
As I walked out of the dining room, glancing out the side door of the hotel, I saw a tour bus. The front desk later told me the tour bought out all but three of their rooms the previous night and had been a nightmare to deal with. Apparently the cost of the tour was so exorbitant the patrons used their manners as part of the payment. Go back from hence you came, ne’er to return, you rude bastards.
Needing some air and time away from said folk, I made my way down to the beach. My eyes gazed toward the sea, What am i doing here?
Lacking any sort of resolve or motivation I returned to my room and packed my bag. Only 3.5 miles today, I told myself. Just 3.5 miles.
There were two routes in which to choose from this morning. One which involved a step climb of 400 feet, by a descent of equal distance. OR. I could walk along the road complete with a pedestrian path by the sea. Let me ponder that for a millisecond. The choice was simple.
“I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself.”
-D. H. Lawrence
Well Mr Lawrence, you’ve apparently never seen a pissed off, sore, frustrated, tired, inconvenienced gay man have you? One my go so far to say, they are a wild thing.
With beautiful scenery in the surround, I plodded along, to ungrateful to even acknowledge the privilege of my experience. I was certainly feeling sorry for myself. I managed a few pictures along the route. More out of the guilt, than the enjoyment of having seen it.
Arriving in Getaria, my frustration only intensified. I booked a room claiming to be in Getaria, within a quarter mile of the city center. Feeling confident in my choices thus far, I failed to validate its location. Upon arriving, I pull up apple maps and punch in the address. 5 miles away. 5 miles pretty much at a perpendicular angle to that of the Camino. The rage was real. 10 mile round trip or a cab ride, neither of which I was inclined to do.
Being a holiday weekend I knew my options were limited. At this point the idea crossed my mind to scrap the rest of the trip, get on a bus to the nearest airport and head home. While early in the Camino, I had yet to find anything that resembled a groove. Everything seemed to be infinitely harder than my previous Camino. Poor me. Pity party of one, your table is now available.
Considering my options, I walked up the main thoroughfare of the small town. A pension (think bed and breakfast) was on the left, and a woman was standing outside. I stopped and said hello. We exchanged pleasantries. She recognized me as a pilgrim, (like its hard). I asked if she had a room, and she gave me a little bit of a frown. I explained my conundrum with the other hotel.
She paused in contemplation and then said, “Well, I do have a room that I don’t normally rent. I can show you if you like.”
I’m thinking, “Uh huh, this is a storage or laundry room.”
She opened the door to a newly renovated room. Modest, but new. She asked, “Will this do?”
A nod and a smile closed the deal.
The check in was instant.
Later in the day, I learned from causal conversation the room was in fact in her families “wing” of the pension, and had been her mothers room, whom had recently passed. She had just finished remodeling it the week before, and had planned to move her eldest daughter of three into the space later that day. Recognizing the immediate terror on my face, she added, “You are a pilgrim, it is my duty to help.”
I thanked her repeatedly, lacking the proper words to show the extent of my appreciation. She smiled with a nod, message received.
I set about unpacking, and texted a dear friend who happens to be in Paris on holiday. We exchanged stories of our travels, and made mention I was struggling. He told me to hang in there, things would get better. His words were uplifting.
I emailed the hotel I had made my reservation with the previous night. The response was that of arrogance, and finality. My response was abrupt and pointed. Over the course of the next two hours and several emails, the situation was resolved. My money would be refunded, and he requested if in the region again, he asked that I stay there so he could buy me a beer. If anything, I have a way with people.
My mood started to ease. Being within a short walk to the beach, I decided therapy of the sea might be the ticket. I made my way down, it was busy but not overly crowded. I sunned for about a half hour, turning a nice shade of pink. Wishing to avoid the appearance of scalded lobster I walked back to the pension.
While walking up, I noticed a very boisterous restaurant with well heeled patrons enjoying a mid afternoon lunch. Wine and cocktails abundant, with elegant food being presented. I might just have to give it a try, I haven’t had a “great” meal since my arrival. Suddenly my attention was drawn to a woman standing on the patio, napkin in hand, cell phone pressed to her ear screaming in english, “ YOU ARE IN NO POSITION TO NEGOTIATE!”
Followed by a brief few seconds of silence, then a repeat of the same. Clearly an accomplished negotiator. (Tongue in cheek)
Walking in I was greeted by the woman as before, “How was the beach?!”
I replied, “It was quite nice. What about the restaurant across the street?”
Her eyes lit up, “It’s the best! I highly recommend. Although it is quite expensive, it has a Michelin star, you see.”
I smile ear to ear, my intentions are evident. She smiles back, “You’ll love it.”
Being after 3, and based on the customs of Spain and much of Europe, “Will they seat me now?”
“Oh, they often require a reservation, but since lunch normally ends at three and I saw a few large parties enter just before 3 you may be in luck”, she replied.
That was enough for me.
I will spare you the minute details; suffice to say the experience was phenomenal, and the food delectable. It ranks in the top 5 best meals I have ever had. If you wish to read about the restaurant, it is called Elkano.
Graciousness of a host, relaxing beach and delightful food. My spirit renewed. Tomorrow will be a better day.
Instagram for photos of my adventure: @diverja