Day four on the Camino Primitivo was to test my strength, pride and perseverance. I became involved in a not-so-gracious race ~ but against whom?
“The geographical pilgrimage is the symbolic acting out an inner journey. The inner journey is the interpolation of the meanings and signs of the outer pilgrimage. One can have one without the other. It is best to have both.” ~ Thomas Merton, Mystics and Zen Masters
Here are the GPS tracks for our day four on the Camino Primitivo. I have included services, like accommodations, grocery stores and cafés on the map to aid you in your planning. It is entirely interactive, so open, pinch, zoom, etc.
Note the optional, 770 meter round-trip route in orange, to the ruined, Romanesque Monastery of Santa María la Real de Obona, also described farther below.
Here is the elevation profile for our day. From La Espina, there is a bit of a climb, followed by a short descent into Tineo. Then from Tineo, a healthy climb of 240 meters (800 feet) that you will notice!
Once again, after a long climb, there is an easy, long downhill into Campiello, of about the same meters that you just gained. What else would you expect from the Primitivo?
The morning walk started out sunny and cool. Both my husband, Rich and I were suffering from post-nasal drip now. I thought that my condition, that I noticed first yesterday, was due to stress, but since Rich had it too, it seemed that we may have picked it up somewhere in our travels.
My voice was beginning to sound husky, as when I get PND, the virus almost always progresses to laryngitis. I tried to keep from focusing on it as we set out.
My belly was happy, for sure, as the sweet hospitalera made us tostada and café con leche at the Albergue, El Texú for a donativo.
Shortly after leaving the center of La Espina along the N-634, the Original Way heads westward and veers off to the right onto a path at a large roundabout, and follows the AS-216 to the north. It takes you to the first town, La Pareda, in just one kilometer. I found this town to be very photogenic.
I said a prayer of gratitude, (as I intended to do at each and every chapel) at the Capilla del Cristo de los Afligidos, as I captured the moment on day four of our Camino Primitivo. It is a quaint little fifteenth century chapel with the Camino de Santiago waymark as well.
The hydrangeas lit up the entrance, but unfortunately, the chapel was closed.
The Primitive Way winds through lanes and walkways through the little town.
I loved this building with the rounded corner and the waymark, leading us onward.
A Camino de Santiago enthusiast/supporter had decorated his house with shells. Seeing sights like this always lifts my spirit! This building is the Albergue Minero! (+34 607 314 746), which gets great reviews on Google. This albergue is only 1.3 kilometers from La Espina, if need or would like to extend your day three here.
One-quarter mile after the albergue, you pass by a fountain at the west end of town.
It looked as if we were going to have another clear and sunny day on day four of our Camino Primitivo. We had such great luck with the weather. I was keeping my fingers crossed for tomorrow, day five, when we needed to make a decision whether or not we could take the mountainous, Hospitales Route.
After town, the Way now diverts to dirt lanes, keeping the view of the mountains always on your shoulder.
A munching cow took the time to gaze at us as we turned right to follow the waymark.
The AS-216 can be seen down the hill to the south, but fortunately we stayed on these lovely dirt tracks, all the way to Bedures, for about another 1.5 kilometers.
Everyone asks me, "Elle, why aren't you in any of the photos?" Well, here I am, enjoying this scenic walk in the clear, cool morning. Once in a while, Rich actually says, "Let me take a picture of you!"
This charming hórreo is a pilgrimage travelers rest stop, which greets you as you enter the hamlet of El Pedregal after 3.9 kilometers. Since we had just set out, we were in no need of a stop, but it was a great place. There are vending machines if you stop here.
We saw more pilgrimage supporters along the route on day four of the Camino Primitivo.
El Pedregal is another quaint place. I snapped this as Rich jaunted ahead on day four of our Camino Primitivo.
Farther along in El Pedregal, the Original Way joins the AS-21 again. There didn't appear to be much here for pilgrim support and the whole town seemed asleep at 9:00 a.m.
Here is the town church as we walked by.
The church is a landmark, yes, but not very embellished.
Shortly after walking through El Pedregal, the Camino Primitivo once again turns off the AS-216 and follows it to the north on quiet lanes and tracks.
Eventually, after walking approximately 6.0 full kilometers from El Pedregal, the Original Way comes out to a lovely park with a bar, La Casina de San Roque, after 10.3 kilometers from La Espina. It was 10:00 a.m. and the bar was open. It looked like a great rest stop with picnic tables all around.
We decided to keep going on, and try to get through most of Tineo, the next large town ahead before stopping. We wanted to get to a more halfway point on our day four of the Camino Primitivo.
A little chapel, called the Capilla de San Roque was just beyond the bar. I totally missed it, because I was enthralled by the cattle crossing in the middle of the city!
The chapel is just to the left of the photo and shaded park benches surround it. It would have been a lovely place for a rest and a bite.
It is important to find the Capilla de San Roque if your intent is to stay at the municipal Albergue de Peregrinos Mater Christi as it is most efficient to leave the Camino de Santiago and take the first left after the chapel onto the Carretera de San Roque, walk down the hill for approx. 600 meters, turning left onto the Calle Cabezas de San Juan. The albergue is on your left after about another 100 meters. Tineo has become a pinch point, so this 24-bed muni may already be filled when you arrive.
Otherwise, continue straight onward on the Camino.The walled road you see here is the Paseo de los Frailes, or the TI-1. It is incredibly scenic, looking out over the valley as it goes toward Tineo. I didn't even mind going back to the pavement, with this beautiful distraction.
We followed this road as it passes the photogenic pilgrim sundial.
Yes, Rich volunteered to take a photo of me too!
The Cantabrian mountains frame the town of Tineo. It is gorgeous geography through here on this day four of the Camino Primitivo. The town is on a steep hillside as shown in the photo, below.
The Camino de Santiago drops steeply toward Tineo as the Paseo de los Frailes becomes the Camino San Roque. It never goes all the way into the center of town at the bottom of the hill. Apparently Tineo was a famous pilgrim stop, and I would have loved to explore the historical sites here. We just did not have sufficient time.
We passed an open bar, but didn't stop. Surely there was another one on the other side of town? Tineo is not a small place.
As it goes, there was not another bar, before the Primitive Way abruptly turns northward, in the opposite direction and heads back up a long hill and out of town! No café con leche boost for this girl!
If Tineo is your destination for the day, there are a lot of services and accommodation here, in addition to the municipal albergue. There is the luxurious Albergue Palacio de Merás within the Hotel Palacio de Merás complex (of the same name) in the center of town. The Apartamentos La Panerona (two locations), the Pension La Posada, the Albergue de Peregrinos La Plaza (+34 684 61 45 17), the Bar Pensión El Corono (+34 985 80 01 56) and the Apartamentos los Balcones are all also in the center of town. Click on the links for their exact location.
Continuing on the Camino after Tineo, you are entering God's country, and there is not a lot of infrastructure. The Camino lesson is grab what you can, when you can!
The street we were now on was the Calle la Fuente and thus begins the long climb of the day out of Tineo. I knew I was in for trouble as it climbed ever more steeply, passing several benches along the way for strategically located rest stops!
We missed our opportunity of finding a "perfectly placed bar" so we sat on one of the benches just outside of town and had a picnic lunch from our packs. I did not know how long the hill climb was going to be, and I was physically and psychologically running out of energy. I needed food! While we munched, three Spanish pilgrim gentlemen passed by us.
I mourned the loss of a cuppa brew. Plus, my chest was starting to feel more constricted and it definitely felt like my post-nasal drip was turning into something more worrisome.
The Calle la Fuente quickly becomes a rural road as it climbs. There are picnic tables farther up, when the street begins to flatten out, and the Fuente de San Juan - a pilgrim's fountain, hence the name of the street, with benches can be seen. (not pictured). The climb from the bottom of the hill in Tineo, starting at 11.5 kilometers, to this fountain is only about 600 meters.
The Camino de Santiago turned off the Calle la Fuente and headed into the woods. Another 700 meters or so, from the Fuente de San Juan, the Mirador de Letizia is reached, a lovely look-out over the valley and over Tineo. This mirador is at 12.8 kilometers, but is not nearly the top!
If I had known, I would have pushed a little farther before stopping for lunch to enjoy the fantastic view across the valley, from these two resting spots.
A native expressed my sentiments exactly, with his sign, in the photo below; "How green is my valley!" (zoom in on the sign to the right side of the photo).
As we walked by the pilgrim's fountain, the same three Spanish gentlemen, who we were soon to coin, "the three amigos," were having a bite. When they saw us coming, they hurriedly packed up and started following us.
Down the road is Borres, a Camino pinch-point, and many pilgrims we had spoken to were interested in making it there by the end of day four of the Camino Primitivo. Borres is 3 km farther than our goal of Campiello. Making it to Borres would shorten the long day on the Hospitales Route the next day.
The albergue in Borres has only 18 beds, and it gets mixed reviews. If you arrive and there are no beds, at the time of this story, a pilgrim would have had to return 3 km to Campiello. We did not want to gamble on it. (Fortunately there are now more options in Borres, see below.)
I tell you this information, because it seemed to us like the three amigos (and everyone else, for that matter) were on a race on this day, for beds in Borres. Oh well! We were not racing. We were going to stay in Campiello.
Rich was having music player issues and we stopped as he fiddled with his head phones and cell phone. Our delay allowed the three amigos to happily jaunt by us for the second time. Their pace did not seem out of the ordinary to me as I smiled at them and wished them a "Buen Camino."
Then, the Camino started to climb much more steeply on its double track. Even though the three amigos had gotten ahead quite a way, our faster pace allowed us to catch up to them rather quickly. I noted that they were carrying very heavy packs.
As we neared to pass them, they started to speed up. They must have heard the clacking of our poles approaching.
Rich and I were both listening to music, to help with the climb. I had on Simple Minds, with a heavy, techno-beat. I eased off my pace, thinking they would eventually tire and let us pass.
The exact opposite happened. Not only did they start to speed up more, but they were not yielding the right of way to let us pass. They crowded the track.
I thought, OK, I'll let them "win." We eased off our pace. Surprisingly, they eased off their pace. We followed behind them for some time like this, on their heels. If I would attempt to speed up again, so would they as they refused to yield the right of way.
The view, immediately behind hikers in front of you is not all that pleasing. I disliked seeing their backsides and wanted to return to the open view ahead.
After several minutes of this, I thought it was getting ridiculous. I was not going to not go at my pace, if their only goal was to stay ahead of us.
So, I decided that I was going to put it into my highest gear to get around them. And I did. I put my head down and booked. The hill was a real hump - very steep. It took quite an effort on my part. I am from Colorado and used to climbing mountains. It was amazing how determined they were to stay ahead of us on this day four of the Camino Primitivo, despite my all-out effort!
They were snorting and grunting and going as fast as they possibly could with their heavy packs. The fittest of the bunch was pulling ahead of the other two. He was also trying to prove something by not waiting for his Camino partners. However, I knew the whole group could not sustain this pace. They were just working way too hard.
As I finally passed by them, I smiled to greet them, and they wouldn't even look at me! All eyes were down and forward, with an occasional glance to see where I was! They were taking it all very seriously! It was a serious race! Oh my!
I was able to take a better look at the three amigos as I passed them by. The one gentleman looked like he was actually in his mid-70's! The other two, maybe in their 60's, about 5-10 years older than us. I didn't know whether to be impressed or amused! Such fierce competition at that age! Wow! It was totally unexpected.
After we overtook the three amigos, and they snubbed me, I didn't look back. I kept the fast pace going until we came to the top of the hill that seemed to go on forever. The techno-rock was my driver. It was always good to get to the top. I was surprised at my stamina. I could dig deeply, if I had the will to do it.
We finally reached the top at 16.3 kilometers, after 4,8 kilometers of continuous strenuous climbing! The top is known as the Alto de Guardia.
The forest had soon abated and these fantastic views appeared, below.
When I finally looked back, the three amigos were nowhere to be seen. Apparently, without us in the picture they couldn't sustain the pace we were going.
After my adrenaline abated, I worried that maybe I had given the "old" one a heart attack! I started to feel badly about what I had done. What if I had to share a dormitory with them later? How would that feel?
I processed and reflected on this for most of the rest of the day (see reflections, further down ~ At least I had something else on which to focus other than my shins and feet!)
We had the Camino to ourselves, once again. The vistas all around were fabulous. This area, called La Guardia, was the high point of the day. From the Mirador de Letizia, the Way had been on nice country lanes for a full 4.5 kilometers!
After the long uphill, the Original Way flattened out, and started once again, to head downhill on the other side. The Primitivo is all about the ups and downs!
From the Alto de Guardia, there is a new and alternative, sign-posted turn-off, to Obona and the historic, ruined Monastery of Santa María la Real de Obona. (The large sign is not pictured, but look for a large map at the junction.) This alternative route is in orange on my maps above. According to the information on the sign, in 1222, King Alfonso IX made a stop at the monastery mandatory for all Jacobean pilgrims! If you were planning to go to the monastery anyway, this way is 3.3 kilometers to the Monastery, through the town of Obona and 360 meters from the monastery, to rejoin the main blue route.
On the standard, blue route, it is exactly the same distance, about 3.3 kilometers from the Alto de Guardia to the turn-off to the monastery, and a total of 720 meters more round trip to the monastery and back to the main route. All in all, if you want to visit the monastery, the standard route is about 360 meters longer in total. A bonus to going the alternative route is that you can stop at the cafe in Obona, if you would like, after a total of about 18.3 kilometers.
Otherwise, if you stay on the blue main route, about 17 kilometers into the day, the nice dirt track finally gives way to a grooved road heading downhill towards Obona from the south side, shown below.
In another 580 meters the Camino joins the AS-350 at an intersection. From there it turns right and follows the road on a footpath to the south. After walking along the AS-350 for about 1/2 km, it veers back into the woods once again.
The deeply shaded track through the forest was such a wonderful reprieve from the hot sun, below.
Soon after leaving the AS-350, along the forest track, you will come to a waymark at 19.3 kilometers, total, where you can again choose between staying on the Camino, to the left, or if you have changed your mind and want to go to the Monastery of Santa María la Real de Obona, stay to the right. From this turnoff, it is only a 720 meter round-trip diversion, if you care to visit the historic monastery. Many who have gone have said it is a lovely, albeit ruined site. We continued onward.
On day four of the Camino Primitivo, the shaded way on dirt lanes lasts for a bit more than two kilometers, then goes through Villaluz and finally joins the TI-3 near this photogenic hórreo, below.
The Camino de Santiago stays on the TI-3 for 2.6 long, grueling kilometers on hot pavement, uphill into Campiello. While writing this article, I explored this road into Campiello on Google maps, and easily remembered how I felt in this moment. I could feel how hot the long climb on the pavement really was! It was not pleasant at the end of our day four on the Camino Primitivo.
I had also voice journalled how badly my feet were killing me on the hot pavement in this final stretch.
Is it any wonder, we stopped, breathed and took a photo when we finally came upon the sign for Campiello.
The first bar we came to, we stopped for food and a beer, at 2:00 p.m. We had arrived in time before the siesta closure. After about 20 minutes of enjoying our refreshments, along came the three amigos! Whew! They were alright. I smiled and nodded my head to them.
Then I found out that the Casa Ricardo (+34 984 24 02 24), doesn't close for siesta. Not only did the bar not close, but there was a well-stocked grocery store and a tastefully renovated, private albergue that didn't close either. I thought I had died and gone to pilgrimage traveler heaven!
Below is the entry to the Albergue. You can find Ricardo at the bar to secure your space.
Here is the lovely courtyard that is the center of the rooms and dormitory. There are tables where we pilgrims gathered for dinner.
Ricardo was so proud, as he, himself, gave us a tour of the facility. In almost perfect English, he explained that he had everything custom built, preserving the historical flavor of all the buildings.
The facilities were wonderful, modern and new. We cooked dinner, with the direction of the Camino mother (see day one) and about eight of us sat down here for a shared meal.
For 26 Euros, we could have stayed in the dormitory (13 each), which was truly lovely. For just 14 Euro more, we chose the private room with its own bathroom. It was a delight.
I highly recommend the Casa Ricardo. It was a surprise and welcome respite before the difficult day five which lay ahead.
Right beside the Casa Ricardo is the Casa Herminia. They serve giant cups of café con leche which we took advantage of the next morning with breakfast! They also have a restaurant, a store, an albergue and private rooms.
Remember that the donativo albergue, Casa Pascual (+34 606 24 20 97), is 1.5 kilometers down the road in El Espín, the municipal Albergue de Peregrinos Santa María and the private Albergue La Montera are both three more kilometers down the road in Borres, and the private Samblismo Albergue de Peregrinos a bit farther, at 4.5 more kilometers. It is at the fork in the road where the Pola de Allande and Hospitales Routes diverge. If you plan to stay at the Samblismo albergue, make sure you have reservations, as this is a small and highly popular place because of its location!
Fortunately, I kept a voice journal from my Camino experience, so my reflections truly were from day four of my Camino Primitivo. Not months later when I am writing!
Most certainly, upon reflection, I did have an egoistic need to prove that I was faster and younger and stronger than the three amigos. My recorded words actually say, "I wanted to allow them (the three amigos) to sit back and relax and be old men. I did not want to be doing CPR on this guy (the 70+ amigo). This guy was really pushing, because I was humping it! I think I am a really strong climber. Very interesting. This is part of my motivation, I guess, or it was part of my lie to myself."
Yes, I certainly did want to get around them. I did not enjoy the view that was in front of me. Yes, I was going at a faster pace than they were. Yes, I could have yielded anyway and enjoyed the moment. No, it didn't matter if I arrived at Compiello at 2:00 or 3:00. Yes, it probably made a difference to the Spanish gentlemen that I was a female ~ and with gray hair at that!
Indeed, going forward we did not only have to share the road, but most likely we would have to share rooms! Had I tainted my relationship with them forever?
I journaled; "All I wanted was to just get around them. And I actually think that some of it had to do with proving to myself, that I was doing well, despite the exercise-induced asthma (from my virus-caused post-nasal drip). Plus, I hated this day ~ long, steep hill climbs, then down, down, down, pavement, pavement, pavement."
Indeed, for most of the afternoon I was miserable. The Primitivo was to prove to be more intense than I realized. Now that my body was acclimating, somewhat, after day four, I was getting sick with a virus.
I was supposed to be at the top of my game. I needed to prove to myself that I was physically equipped to handle this challenge.
As it turns out, I was to suffer the same physical challenges that plague most pilgrimage travelers. I didn't have the super strong immune system. My body does have limits. However, on this day four on the Camino Primitivo, I suppose I proved that I was better than average. I needed to prove that my not-so-gracious race had made a difference to me that day.
Now, I am graciously accepting my lack of graciousness. I am human. I needed to feel strong, fast and young in the face of my own personal adversity. I needed to persevere. And so it is/was. Hindsight is 20/20 now when I look at my day four on the amazing Camino Primitivo.
What do you think? Have you had similar experiences? You may leave your feedback below!
May your own Camino de Santiago aid you in your inner and outer journey. May you be at Peace that they are often so interconnected that you cannot tell the difference. May you merge with your experience, such as I did, through hope, adversity and yes, humanness. May your pilgrimage travels bring you new insights on your life's journey, as mine did on my day four on the Camino Primitivo.
Many readers contact me, Elle, to thank me for all the time and care that I have spent creating this informative website. If you have been truly blessed by my efforts, have not purchased an eBook, yet wish to contribute, I am very grateful. Thank-you!
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Need suggestions on what to pack for your next pilgrimage? Click Here or on the photo below!
Carbon fiber construction ( not aluminum) in a trekking pole makes them ultra lightweight. We like the Z-Pole style from Black Diamond so we can hide our poles in our pack from potential thieves before getting to our albergue! There are many to choose from! ( See more of our gear recommendations! )