hills above Deba

hills above Deba

Angels in the Forest…… The Way out of Deba rises steeply into sparcely populated farmland and forest as we leave the sea behind for a while. We are prepared for a long day and three steepish climbs like this first one.

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We take a breather at the little taverna in Orlatz where a coffee and a tuna tapas fortifies us for what becomes a climb through the forest of over an hour. I am grateful for the shade of the trees as the temperature rises and soon I am walking alone as Mike heads off  at his own pace, leaving me for dust. The quiet of the forest is calming and lends itself to contemplation and again I find myself thinking of my family before simply becoming lost in the rhythm of my slow, steady climb.

climbing through forest

climbing through forest

Mike is waiting towards the top of the hill at Kastolamendi and is in conversation with a man who has driven to the spot and awaits some friends who are walking behind us. He has ice cold beers and water in his boot of his car and offers some to me. I am a little overheated and the water is delicious ( I thought the beer might just send me to sleep ). Quite honestly it was just what was needed at that time. I swear water has never tasted better. And the gift was the first of many examples of the generosity of spirit we were to encounter over the next few weeks. I was to hear the saying ‘ The Camino always provides’ many times and here was an example. And this stranger is an example of the guardian angels who protect the route.

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For much of the day I am walking alone and enjoying the solitude of this hill forest walking and after 25kms I join up with Mike to enter the ancient town of Marquina-Xemein.

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We stop to visit the chapel of St Miguel with its unusual altar made from huge rocks before we enter the grand old town. After a long day I settle for a cold beer and to rest my back that has, for the first time, started to play up. Mike goes on an excursion to explore the accommodation possibilities. There is an auberge attached to the church but we decide to walk on the six or so kilometres to the monastery at Ziortza.

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This last bit of the walk follows a small river valley and is a very pretty incline. It takes a somewhat painful hour or so but the walk is worth it for the experience of staying in this magnificent monastery.

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The monks welcome all travellers and offer food for supper ( a pea soup ) and a simple breakfast. We share with three female pilgrims in a comfortable enough dormitory and I am ready for an early night after quite a long, taxing walk that has tested my lack of real fitness.

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First I have to do battle with a monster wasp that has got into the dorm from a nest in the wall outside but not long after vespers I am tucked up and grateful that there are no snorers in the party.

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