Today at 7 when dark still we left to begin the journey from our hilltop albergue with the great view over the sea, through Laredo to Santoña.
We walked up the street from our albergue, passing the road to our friend’s campground where I had swum the previous day, and onto the 2-laned highway. I began to hike onto this path along the edge of the roadway for it seemed like a safer option. It became the top of a wall that bordered the highway, so I walked about 4 feet above the pavement where Nannette hiked next to me. It was still predawn light. At one point my foot caught a rebar post out of the top of the wall and I tripped and nearly fell down onto Nannette and the pavement below. Nannette, dismayed as I stumbled and caught myself above her, was trying to decide how she might be able to catch me! Nannette was just that kind of a super hero. Thankfully, I regained my balance and decided after that rather than fall the 4’ onto the road, I’d rather take my chances and walk along the road with her.
For 9 km we hiked along this highway. This journey not our favorite walk. The cars went whizzing passed us. We hiked uphill into and around the mountains. The sun came out, but it was somewhat overcast, and never got hot.
At about 10 am we reached the sleepy town of Liendo. We walked into this town hoping to find a place for coffee and tea. We found some that were closed but then came to one bar that was open, and we cheered. We stopped, unloaded our backpacks at an outdoor table, ordered tea, café con leche and some tortilla. I rubbed down my feet and we talked about what was promised ahead.
From the guide it looked like our only option was to stay on the highway, but we knew we were to arrive at the coast and walk along a beach. So—if we could make it to the mountains along the coast, we could arrive by that means in Laredo!
As we left we began to walk again along the highway seeing some folk, way ahead of us walking up the road. We reached the edge of town, and stopped. We had seen this random yellow arrow pointing off the highway toward the mountains along the coast just beyond the bar where we had eaten. We decided to go back there, even though this “way” was not mentioned by the guidebook.
We reached this arrow and hiked through a residential area and began to hike up this winding road alongside more expensive homes on the mountain above the village, and then onto a dirt path, winding through a sheep pasture. There a brave sheepdog barked at us as he guarded his sheep whom he had herded into a shelter.
We walked then along a path that went up onto this ridge with a long drop off down to the sea. It was glorious. Blue skies now, comfortable weather, and beauty—again it just soaked into us both. Vultures circled overhead, whom we hoped were not waiting for us to be their dinners!
As we made our way down along this ridge we wound down into a town and there ahead of us came upon two other hikers. As we met and chatted with them, it was our first encounter with Mick and Marg from Australia — delightfully honest, open, friendly folk.
We walked with them into Laredo. They headed off to find a place to eat and the place where they were lodging that night. They had booked a kind of tour situation, where their bags were shipped place to place, with lodging and some meals pre-arranged. Marg was madder than a hornet about this arrangement, having been assured in Australia that they would be unable to find lodging nor good meals without this arrangement, but finding this far from the truth. Actually, there was wonderful food and lodging to be found all along the way. As happened frequently along the way, we parted not knowing if we would see one another again.
Nannette and I walked the cobblestoned streets to the beach. Nannette, who was a great one for finding walking options, directed us there.
The town of Laredo was shaped like a half circle but in taking the beach, we could cut across the circle at the diagonal, and lessen the total walking distance. We were both highly in favor of that!
The beach came to an inlet so we walked around to the left looking the ferry across to Sontaño, our destination. Since then, I found that the guidebook told us how to find the ferry, but I had not read that part yet. It seemed logical that a ferry would come to a pier, and there was one along this beach, but it was high above the water. I thought I would just climb up, 12 feet or so, and ask someone. But Nannette got directions and actually the ferry came just to the beach.
It literally just pulled into the sand and let down a ramp. You boarded and then it backed out and made its way across the harbor. Beautiful water.
In Santoña we hiked up into the town. Nannette had shopping to do, but first we needed to find the albergue. Just on the main plaza was an albergue someone told us about. It was not the regular albergue, but was clean, and we were the first to arrive. Later Claudio and Lorenzo and others would also come and we roomed there together. After washing out our clothes, the clothes lines were outside the windows. One had to reach out and position socks, shirts etc over the lines, and pin or tie them for them to dry. The only thing to watch for was that the clothes not fall down to the first floor rooftop below!
After we checked in, Nannette and I went down to swim. I was hankering for the water. We swam in one area of the harbor and then sat in the sun as it set in this park area. It was super refreshing. That evening Lorenzo, Claudio, Nannette and I ate together at the restaurant that abutted the albergue. We ate at an outdoor table on the plaza and watched as the town came to life around 8:30 pm. Families with all age children came to the plaza, they ate, drank, talked, laughed and shared while the children played and played in the center of the area. It was beautiful.