Why am I in Muskiz when I should be in Portugalete tonight? I took a wrong turn. But I was warned. As I was walking towards an intersection where two different paths were marked with yellow arrows, giving me a choice of taking one way or the other, a woman stopped me and asked me if I was doing the coastal route. When I said yes she waved an arm in the direction of one of the marked routes. Of course, I couldn’t see the intersection when this happened.

At the time I thought she was suggesting I take the easier of two routes that led to the same destination, and in my mind I was dismissive of what she had told me. I chose what I thought would be the harder route. It wasn’t until much later that I realised the woman was doing me a huge favour. I guess other pilgrims have come unstuck at the same intersection. The simple solution would be to mark the route at this point with more information. I walked 16km before I became aware of my mistake.

The 26km mark was when I stopped for a rest thinking I had about 4km to go. I checked my iPad maps and couldn’t see my destination any where near where I was. I walked on a couple of hundred metres and asked a man the name of the village ahead of me and the direction of Portugalete. It was very disheartening when he pointed in a completely opposite direction to what I had thought to be it’s location. The man got a book of maps from his car and we looked at them. He gave me directions from Guenes to where I am tonight. Had I kept going on the route I was on I would have ended up in Burgos, a city on the Camino Frances about 110km to the south-west. So I started walking, and walking and waking my recovery walk.

By the time I got to Muskiz I had recovered my position somewhat. It’s on about the same latitude as Portugalete but further to the west. Tomorrow I have the choice of walking the 4.4km to Pobena, where I intended to be on Thursday night, or take a 16km road walk to Castro Urdiales where I intended to be on Friday night. From either town I can pick up the northern Camino again.

What have I learned from this mistake? I think I was too quick to judge the woman who was only trying to help me. I’ve had a tendency to rush into things without too much forethought. I’ll definitely be paying attention to this shortcoming in the future.
The thing I was pleased about was my mental toughness. The man who helped me with the maps also offered me a lift. I declined. I could have stayed in an hotel at Guenes and done this afternoon’s walk tomorrow. I dismissed this idea. At Guenes I could have caught a bus to Portugalete. I chose not to. Along the way my feet began to ache badly. I kept going. I wanted to stop. I didn’t. I’m glad I wasn’t carrying yesterday’s pre-post office backpack.

Now for the good bit of news. Coming into Muskiz there is a low road that leads to the church and the old part of town and a high road which I thought would offer the best opportunity for an hotel. I chose the high road. I asked a man if there was a pension in town. He pointed it out. Underneath the pension is a bar. Seated in the bar at a table were two elderly women. When I enquired of the bar attendant about a room she immediately spoke with one of the women at the table. The upshot was that this woman had a house up on the hill about 10 minutes walk away. She would
rent me a room. I walked up the hill with her. Going was slow. Part way up she asked me to wait at the park. About ten minutes later she appeared up the street and waved me towards her. We got to her house and she showed me three bedrooms. I had yet another choice to make. I selected a room and paid the a��18 fee. The room I selected is far better than a lot of the hotels I’ve stayed in these past three months. I am the only one in residence and I have the run of the kitchen and sitting room.

I went into town for dinner which was a very tasty vegetarian pizza. I did some supermarket shopping for breakfast and for on the road tomorrow. I should be in bed by ten thirty.

Out of my mistake I’m just 16km short of Friday’s destination; I learned a little more about myself; and I’m in very comfortable accommodation for the night even though what should have been a 20km walk turned into a 35km walk. Today was one of
challenge followed by reward.

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