20. July 2024

Camino de la Costa 06: From Zumaia to Arnope (17.6 km)

September 12, 2018: Due to lack of the wrong equipment, we escape the threat of beeing committed in bullfights, I cheat the way to Deba, we drink wine from beer glasses and experience Alaskan sawing excelence.

From Zumaia we set off at dawn. During the steep ascent, which led to a resting place, we met Katrin again, who just took pictures of a beautiful view. Together we went on to the said resting place to have our anything but balanced banana breakfast.

No drought in the Basque Country but flowers everywhere
No drought in the Basque Country but flowers everywhere

After a short time, Jenny joined in, while Katrin was busy with a little kitten, which probably came from the nearby farm. Jenny’s bumblebees in her butt (German saying about impatient people) started to move very quickly and she told us very ambitiously that she wanted to run far beyond our goal Arnope, so she stayed with us only for a short time and hurried away with a fast pace.

Katrin convinced us not to follow the official Way of St. James from Elorriaga on, but to follow the, according to the yellow guide, “wonderful, but partly problematic coastal path”. This was again marked in white and red, so again we followed the motto “do it the polish way”.

Steep coast on the coastal path, off the Camino
Steep coast on the coastal path, off the Camino

As announced, this path was not to be easy, it was stony and difficult. It would have been almost impossible to walk it in the rain. But with the wonderful sunshine and another Atlantic breeze it offered us again many beautiful views.

In the beginning we walked together with Katrin, but she wanted to walk on her own soon and so we went ahead.

Up and down, again and again - until Deba
Up and down, again and again – until Deba

Partly the path led through cow meadows, which were also populated with – fortunately relatively lazy – horned cattle. Since we did not wear torrero coats over our backpacks even today, there were no spontaneous bullfights. Note: Avoid big red towels on the Camino de la Costa! Thus, the biggest danger was only from the numerous cow dung ahead.

The numerous view points to the sea and the geological rock formations lying in the surf were bombastic, but they always had to be accessed with steep ascents and descents. Both of these things really got on my nerves that day and I asked myself and rejected the question of the sense of it all.

Shortly before Deba we saw a couple passing us while we were sitting on a bench. From the scraps of conversation that came to my ear, I could assume that they must have come from Bochum. But I didn’t feel that I wanted a coming out as an ex-resident of the city, where – regarding the song “Bochum” from “Das Boot” actor and singer/songwriter Herbert Grönemeyer – the sun is dusty. So I remained incognito.

Arriving at the street with the beautiful name “Mogel Kalea” in Deba, I fought my way down with the help of the elevators arranged in a cascade. (Fun fact: “Mogel” means cheated in German.) Vasek, however, remained true to the true way.

The last steep descent to Deba
The last steep descent to Deba

Down in the village we first “raided” a totally crammed corner shop, where an older clerk sold me a drinking yoghurt and some bananas. After the fast protein kick with a shot of potassium we could go on and we ended up in a very rank-looking kebab shop. But the appearance was misleading, because the vegetarian kebab with real, but quite mild sheep’s cheese ordered by Vasek and me tasted even better. With a chocolate ice cream as desert we were really well saturated.

With fresh energy we could continue our journey towards Arnope. This meant climbing another 250 meters of altitude, of course not evenly but with a lot of up and down.

A last steep ascent on an asphalt road, then we were not yet in front of the hostel, but in front of a stable with pot-bellied pigs, which belonged to the hostel. The hostel itself was a former barn, which was converted into a bar, two dormitories without windows and a kitchen, as well as shower and toilet areas for male and female.

Musty smelling hostel run by musty mooded hospitaleras
Musty smelling hostel run by musty mooded hospitaleras

In the building it was stuffy and humid and warm, we did our part with a nice shower and washed our laundry outside, as we were told to do by the resolute and chain-smoking Hospitalera.

So while the pilgrim’s sweat dissolved from the functional fibres, I saw Katrin approaching with two other German pilgrims, a young couple. She said it would be a bit like coming home when you see familiar faces. I, for my part, was a little relieved to see them, because the coastal path was not so easy to walk.

After finishing the daily errands, writing in the diary and dozing around a bit, it was still too early to go to bed. So we sat down on the terrace, sipped a lousy Rosato and a more than passable Rioja red wine from beer glasses. These we got from the brush-haired chain smoker to the ordered bottle only on explicit wish. Not even to think of wine glasses, they were for the guests who ordered only one glass of wine.

We toasted with Nico and Peter, two funny guys from Australia, who were supposed to meet us again in the next days. They also shook their heads because of the bizarre glass policy of the hostel. But now we had a great time with them and laughed a lot, especially about the fat Americans from Alaska, ejected from a commuter van, who later in the night turned out to be super snorers after explicit threats of their own. But for me this bounced off my tiredness, the weight of the wine in my brain and the earplugs Made in Germany.

Conclusion of the day: Steep climbs, if they are frequent, can get on your nerves. Descents too.

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