Distance from Espinal to Larrasoaña, Spain – 27.7 kilometres
The forecast called for a cold morning, just above freezing, cloudy, but no rain. Things looked encouraging when I looked out the window of the hostel and saw a bit of blue sky. Sarah and I gathered our things and headed downstairs, determined to start marching and find breakfast somewhere down the trail. But, as we opened the door to outside, a wet gust of cold wind exploded into us, straight through our jackets and into our bones. Sarah and I just glanced at each other and, without even a word, turned around and went back inside the hostel in search of coffee and toast.
One café con leche turned into another, but it seemed no matter how long we waited, the weather was determined not to improve. So we both put on an extra layer of clothing, covered it with rain gear and headed out into the elements. As we marched through Espinal we could see many of our our fellow trekkers hunched over in their rain gear, face down, marching forward on the trail, resigned to a day of battling the unpredictable Spring weather.
I am sure on a better day the scenery would have been spectacular, but on this day we missed it because we were blinkered by our rain jackets and the need to keep our eyes on the trail. The cold rain occasionally changed to sleet mixed with light snow, but for the first few hours it was all just cold and wet. To make things more fun, this section of the Camino de Santiago was mostly decent gravel paths, but parts were muddy forest trails and sometimes, steep downhill, on solid rock covered with slick boulders about the size of cantaloupes.
After we finished walking through an industrial area and what appeared to be a strip mine we entered the tiny town of Zuburi. Skies were still grey, but the rain had relented a bit a changed to what was now only a cold drizzle. We managed to find a warm restaurant that served a “Pilgrim Meal” that included a decent paella, with shrimp and chorizo, and a quite drinkable glass of wine. By the time we finished our meal the skies were merely grey and the wind something less than a gale.
We started walking again and by the time we arrived into Larrasoaña we were beat. A couple of fellow travellers we had met in Espinal the night before had recommended Albergue de San Nicolás to stay and we had made reservations. This turned out to be extremely lucky as it seemed every place in town was full. We reunited with our friends from Espinal, Ian, a retired bus driver from England, and Richard, a rare stamps dealer from South Africa, and went to dinner at the only restaurant in town. We had lots of laughs with at the communal dinner table which was filled with travellers from all over the world and of course, lots of hearty food and many bottles of wine. What had started as a pretty miserable day, became something memorable and pleasant.