A 70-day penniless trek across Spain

Adrián Ruiz and Andrea Martello passing through Talavera de la Reina.
Adrián Ruiz and Andrea Martello passing through Talavera de la Reina. / SUR
  • The two 28-year-old friends adventured across the country to draw attention to Spain's rural population and natural parks

  • From Marbella to Santo Toribio de Liébana: a route these childhood friends now hope will grow in popularity

1,419 km, 70 days and 11 stages to the journey. Adrián Ruiz and Andrea Martello did not hesitate in embarking on an adventure of a lifetime: a trek across Spain by foot, without money or food.

The long walk that separates Marbella from Santo Toribio de Liébana (Cantabria) is no longer a mystery for these two 28-year-old men, friends since childhood and now more inseparable than ever before. The pair came away from their 70 days visiting villages across Spain with endless treasured memories. Now, they want to reflect these in a documentary, part of their project 'Un camino por descubrir' (A walk of discovery).

From 30 March to 8 June, the two friends experienced the "closeness of the people and the beauty of the places" first hand. And this was Ruiz and Martello's objective: to highlight village hospitality, raise awareness about the preservation of natural parks and approach their trip as a kind of pilgrimage.

The idea came about some years ago when the two planned to walk from Marbella to Santiago de Compostela. That trip was not meant to be, however, yet the idea lingered at the back of Ruiz's mind until he suggested it once more to Martello this year. This time, the trip's focus was different, as Ruiz explained: "My roots are Cantabrian, so my mother suggested that we should walk there, creating a new pilgrimage route all about personal development." It was Miguel Ángel Revilla, President of Cantabria, who pitched the idea of making a television programme.

The adventure across Spain began on 30 March, when Ruiz and Martello, surrounded by supportive friends and family, set off from Marbella in the direction of Cantabria. Luck was not on their side, and their first night was actually the hardest; the torrential rain and fog almost drove the men to return home. However, Ruiz and Martello were not to be defeated.

Determined to walk without money or food, the men had completed a course at the Anaconda I survival school run by José Miguel Ogalla. However, the generous hospitality in each town meant that this knowledge was rarely needed. It was in Tolex that Ruiz and Martello started to film the good actions of the people. Equipped with mobiles, tripods and a drone, the pair would forward footage to their team in Marbella, who would then publish their progress on social media.

Cordoba, Extremadura, Castilla La Mancha and Castilla y León were just some of the areas covered on the route. Ruiz and Martello would trek between ten and 25 kilometres each day, with their 44-kilometre stint to Guadalupe a notable exception. Sleep became an adventure in itself, and the two spent the nights in caves, olive groves, vineyards, sports centres and even public pools.

Ruiz looks back fondly on the trek: "Life is purer in the village. You learn that the people are more open, healthier and that they appreciate the little things in life."

The trip came to an end on 8 June, when Ruiz and Martello were met by friends and family in Santo Toribio de Liébana. The pair now want to make the trek a popular pilgrimage route, and are pleased to have the support of various town councils already. A video montage documentary made up of footage from the 70-day walk is also high up on their bucket list.