It makes perfect sense that Simón Bolívar can trace his roots back to the Basque Country.
I passed through the very small village that gives him his family name, Bolibar (Euskera doesn’t have the letter “v”) while walking the 25 kilometres from Markina to Gernika (Guernica). It was rather remarkable, but I did have a nice, relaxing café con leche con hielo (ice) in the Plaza de Simón Bolívar.
The sixth day of the Camino de Santiago del Norte for me (Saturday, May 30, 2015, going to start keeping record) began as almost all of them do, me shutting off the alarm and snoozing. I made the 9:10 bus to Markina and arrived in Markina about 10:00. After my routine pintxo de tortilla y café con leche, I was on my way. I saw some peregrinos (pilgrims) having café too, but they seemed unfriendly, so I didn’t bother to find out if they had just done that long, long, long stretch between Deba and Markina I did on May 8th.
Although the Camino didn’t go near the Cantabrian Sea today, I was still impressed with its beauty. It ran along mountain streams for a good portion of the day.
The first few kilometres to Bolibar were no problem, and before I knew it, I was passing through Iruzubieta and then Bolibar. The guide made it look like more of a climb than it actually was to the Zenarruza Monastery.
After getting my credentials stamped at the albergue in Ziortza, I went on to this incredibly monastery. It was high in the mountains (I still don’t know how I didn’t feel the climb that much today!), I walked around the monastery. An older man asked me where I was from, and I explained that I was from the US but live in Bilbao. He didn’t seem to realise I was doing the Camino until his wife said “Look at his Concha! (shell). They were with his 96-year-old mother out for a Saturday drive.
I continued on my way, hoping the village of Munitibar would have some food. An hour later, thinking of the food, I was disappointed with what passed for pintxos there. I took a quick walk around the village and went on my way.
At some point, I think it was before Munitibar, I heeded the advice written on a Moleskin notebook page to their mother: “Mum, go for the road.” I knew this etapa had a bit of flooding problems from time to time, so I just went for the bike Camino on the road.
There were a few nice ermitas along the way, including the one of Santiago (namesake!) and one in Mameta. The views continued to be amazing.
During this part, I played leap frog (not the game, but passing, resting, being passed, then repassing) a young guy who reminded me of Alex Supertramp. I think he was British, but with just a “Buen Camino”, it was hard to tell. I rested a bit after taking my shoes and socks off to wade through a small puddle pond that had formed. I definitely know why the Eroski Guide warns BARRO BARRO BARRO (Mud Mud Mud) as when the weather is typically Basque (nonstop rain), this part would be a stream, not a path. As it was, it was pure mud for a while.
After passing an amazingly beautiful church (I felt I stumbled upon it), I finally found a bar around 16:00 so I could have an Aquarius de Naranja and a pintxo.
The Camino had a bit of a detour on the sidewalk/pavement of the road, but I didn’t complain. The woman at the bar in Elexalde wished me a buen camino and was one of the nicest barkeeps I’ve encountered on the Camino. She even asked if I wanted my pintxo “caliente”, and made sure I got back off on the right Camino.
This was the last stretch of six kilometres onto Gernika. I saw a few more peregrinos, which is a new experience as I’m used to doing it so late I miss all of them.
This stretch of the Camino went mostly on a bike path/walking path. The views continued to be spectacular. This part of the Camino went through my favourite part of Euskadi (if not the world), Urdaibai.
While today seemed long, it didn’t seem especially hard. I left around 10:20 from Markina and arrived to Gernika at around 17:30. I made a lot more stops than I usually do just to soak in the beauty. Perhaps that’s why I didn’t seem so exhausted. I really feel the Camino is my ZEN in so many ways.
One thing I forgot to mention in the first draft is that I crossed the 100 KM line somewhere before Munitibar. Which means, if I wanted, I could just bus it to Santiago and get credit for it. I don’t plan on doing this, but it was a major milestone. On my next day, I’ll cross the “under 700 km left!” line.
A continuación…Etapa 7…cúando?