October 3, 2004
Güermes to Santander
In spite of sleeping in such a nice place, I had a terrible night. What is worse than having a mosquito buzzing around your head? Having a mosquito stop buzzing around your head! Then you don’t know where it’s landed! To make matters worse, the bed was too short and I couldn’t get comfortable. I hate mosquitoes and after several attempts to slay them all, I decided to fall back on insect repellent, although I hate the smell of it and don’t like it on my skin. But I was desperate, so I jumped up to find my bottle of repellent in my backpack. But I couldn’t remember where I’d put it, so I had to empty out about half my pack.
|The ride across the bay from Somo to Santander was relaxing and lasted about 15 minutes. The destination was right in the middle of the waterfront, in the center of town. (Note: Santander is the capital of the Autonomous Community of Cantabria. Spain is divided into 17 of these divisions. Within each larger division there are subdivisions called provinces. Santander is located along the north shore of a great bay closed by the narrow Magdalena headland and sandy Somo point. The extensive sand beaches makes it a favorite resort of the royalty and well-heeled.)
According to the guidebook, the albergue was about a block from the cathedral. Since that was easy to find, it didn’t take much time to find the albergue, but it was — closed. The sign said that it would open at 4:00, and it was only 3:00. I decided to have something to eat.
But it was Sunday and since I was in the downtown section, there weren’t a lot of restaurants open. After wandering around for a while, I found a small neighborhood restaurant with locals in it. I thought that it wasn’t too bad until I realized that pigeons were walking in and out of the front door. When one flew over my head, out the door, I got a little nervous about the food. But since I’m still alive to write this, it wasn’t too bad.
I went back to the albergue to find a young Austrian couple waiting at the door. It was 4:30 and still no hospitalero. Soon we were joined by an Irish woman and later a Spanish man. The sign said that if the albergue was locked, Dora, in the bar 50 feet down the hill ,would have the keys. But, the bar was (all together now) cerrado.
So I pulled out my cell phone and called the number of Bautista, the hospitalero. He said to go to the bar, but when I told him that it was closed, he said that he would come into town, but it would take about 45 minutes. I offered to stay with all the packs while the others went to look for their sources of food.
About 10 minutes later, Dora opened the bar then came up to let me in. She gave me the keys and told me to drop them off in the morning. I then carried all the packs up to the second-floor albergue. By the time Bautista came, I had already showered and changed.
He was a very nice man. He stamped my credencial, then gave me a tour of the albergue and the adjoining office which is the headquarters of los Amigos de Santiago, Cantabria Federacion. He also gave me a list of albergues for the rest of the trip and wished me a buen camino.