Hola amigos! We have delved deeper into Basque Country, and I have now mastered exactly one phrase in Basque: “eskarrig asko” which means “thank you.” Here’s the scoop….
Day 4: Orio to Zumaia, 16.8 km. We stayed in a 400+ year old monastery, San Jose. It had a beautiful garden and I got to eavesdrop on a very talented church choir rehearsal. Also, we visited a nearby beach with a ridiculously cool flysch deposit! Then Greg got himself locked out of the monestary after 10 pm curfew. He spent too long wandering the gardens. Oops. Those curfews are serious business.
Day 5: Zumaia to Ermita de Calvario, 17 km. This was not so much a town as a hamlet. But it was beautiful and had a very friendly community of peregrinos with whom we had a big dinner. I practiced my Spanish (aka smiled and nodded for the 50% of the conversation I missed) with a nice guy from Galicia. Later, a benevolent Australian pilgrim saved my sorry butt by giving me some medical tape and blister advice. This was what made the day’s walk rough for me:
Day 6: Calvario to Markina-Xemein, 20 km. Ouch. We made it mostly intact. This stretch was difficult due to the steep ups and steeper downs, but also for the lack of towns and services. The solitude also made it a beautiful, quite stretch through rolling hills. Lots of livestock.
It started pouring rain that evening and didn’t stop until the following evening….
Day 7: Markina-Xemein to Ziortza, 6 km. We took a short rest day due to my feet and due to the torrential rain and mud. We quite literally had to take shelter from the storm in the 900-year-old monastery of Zenarruza until the albergue next door opened.
We also passed through the town of Bolibar where the ancestors of Simon Bolivar hail from.
Day 8: Ziortza to Gernika, 18 km. Relatively easier walking day through more gorgeous Basque Country.
In Gernika (or Guernica), we visited the Peace Museum which had exhibits about conflict, peace, human rights, and the horrifying incendiary bombing of Gernika in 1937. Good museum, awful history, and a hopeful outlook for the future. Then we enjoyed pintxos, which are sort of like tapas. We bar hopped and sampled several types of pintxos.