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Camino de Santiago del Norte
Day 7 of our Adventure: WALK!!
CAMINO Day 3
Friday September 8, 2017

What we read: 24km / 15 miles / 7.5 hours
What we did: 20 miles / 8.5 hours
Total Ascent: 3002 ft.
Total Descent: 2723 ft.
Difficulty Rating: Terrain 5; Waymarking 2
Scenery Rating: 4

Deba to Markina-Xemein

Luckily we started out very early! The beginning of our walk was beautiful, and we were feeling pretty good about our progress. That is, until we missed a sign. We followed a very steep, very rocky path up, avoiding cow dung on the way. Then we saw lots of cows on the path. And leaping across the path. That should have been a hint that maybe we were no longer on the road to Santiago…. We continued up one route, decided that we took a wrong turn, back-tracked, and then took yet another path that was also wrong. Finally, we descended through the same wonderful (not wonderful) rocky path, avoiding the cow dung. At the bottom we saw the sign that we missed. By that time we’d lost an hour, and we knew from the guidebook that we had a tough ascent followed by a steep descent ahead. Lots of profanity on this particular walk….

After getting back on the Camino, we stopped for a café con leche in the picturesque village of Olatz. Turns out it was our only opportunity to get food before we crossed from Guipuzcoa into Vizcaya and before the tough-on-the-knees long rocky downhill that brought us into Markina-Xemein.

We asked for directions to our “casa rural” (like a B&B), which was still 1 km away. When we arrived the Innkeeper told us that our reservation had been canceled BUT that the travel agency had switched us to a different hotel for 3 nights. She was so sweet: drove us to the new location and wouldn’t even take a tip.

Before even checking into the Hotel Antsotegi Mike asked where the bar was… 2 beers later he was a much happier guy.

We’re staying in Markina-Xemein for a few nights to visit with cousins on my paternal grandmother’s side. Bernarda Arano Power was born in the little village of Berriatua. My father’s cousins’ children and grandchildren grew up near Berriatua. We first met them in 1973 when my parents, several aunts, and more of my dad’s cousins and their families traveled to Spain. We’ve managed to stay in touch (haphazardly) over the past 45 years.

2 of my cousins, Andone and Marie Luisa (“Marisa) arrived to say hello and to see if we needed anything. We didn’t even know they were here until Mike went in search for sparkling water for us. Then they approached him (he is obviously not Basque, AND they remembered him from 14 years ago), and with the help of the chef he was able to tell them that I was in the shower and that we’d see them tomorrow.

We went with another cousin Ismael, his wife Inma, their son Luken and some of their friends to a few Pintxos bars, saw a terrific band in the Plaza, and then went to my cousin’s friends’ house for a wonderful meal. After some yummy hors d’oeuvres (jamon Iberico de bellota, prawns, pate, and crab salad on toast), we had angulas sautéed in garlic, and a delicious braised meat with sauce, a traditional Basque cheesecake, and a lemon dessert. They explained that real angulas are very expensive, so they make “gulas”, an imitation baby eel made from surimi — a gel made primarily from Alaska Pollock.

By the time we got back to our hotel we literally fell into bed. Nice to sleep in until almost 8:00!!

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