The Camino del Norte is a mostly a rural walk through forest and farmland. You can walk hours in the quiet company of birds, cowbells, farm animals, and the gurgle of nearby streams. And occasionally you look around and wonder: Are we still on the Camino?
So how do we know where we are and how to get where we are going? Do we take the path to the left or the one to the right? Regardless of which pilgrim’s path you walk, bright yellow Camino arrows or a yellow scallop shell symbol mark the path.
And there’s also the phone app that maps the path and uses GPS to tell us where we are at that moment. Together, these tools are pretty reliable – until they aren’t!
Maybe the yellow arrows are so faded that they are barely visible. Maybe there are multiple arrows pointing different directions. Maybe GPS can’t find us. All of these things have happened, but more often than not – human error comes into play.
Most pilgrims have their stories of not seeing arrows. Our new friend Daphne from the Netherlands told us that she walked about 400 meters down a very steep descent only to end up at the front door of a farm house. So she turned around and hiked back up only to see the yellow arrow correctly guiding her walk in plain sight. When we left Markina, we were completely enveloped by the beauty of our early morning walk – until a man came by on horseback and redirected us back to the Camino. Sure enough, there was the yellow we had missed!
Our favorite directional challenge was a GPS failure as we tried to find our albergue in Markina. GPS could not pull up the address and we were at a loss. Two kind souls jumped in to assist and ended up walking with us nearly the entire way. They asked to take our photo as we said goodbye, and we took theirs as well. The spirit of the Camino.