I could sit here for hours trying to write something that would capture the essence and rhythm of the Camino, the duality found everyday: the mixture of routine with adventure, conversations on the road both philosophical and nonsensical, equal elation at stunning views and a simple centrifuge, the adrenaline and the exhaustion; even the days themselves seemed split into two: the walking day (7am-2 pm) and the resting day at the destination (2 pm-10 pm).
I could attempt to convey the spectrum of unadulterated feelings I experienced on the camino: happiness, sadness, loneliness, boredom, excitement, panic, contentment, fear, frustration, anger, weariness…
And I could try to explain my gradual awakening and realization that the last thing I wanted to do after it was over was return to my teaching job in Madrid. How the reasons I thought I had for returning fell away until I was left without a single one, and decided not to go back.
But I don’t think I would be able to express these thoughts, nor do I particularly want to – the camino is a personal journey and I want to keep it that way.
Instead I’ll share a product of the camino here. I started writing a lot more on the way, and one day, lying bored in the sun by a tiny albergue, I started a list of words (in 4 languages + some invented words) that captured my experience – so here it is!
A – Albergues (pilgrim hostels), Asturias, avocados
B – Blisters, ‘buen camino’, blackberries, bocadillos (aka lunch – baguette with avocado, tomato, roasted red pepper,cheese), boredom, Basque Country
C – Café con leche, ‘the cohort‘ (group of people we continually saw), communal meals, CAOTD (cute animal of the day), chuches (gummies in Spanish), caixo (Hello in basque), cows, chocolate, ‘cheating’ (Is biking cheating? Is taking a donkey cheating? Is walking on the highway cheating?), Cantabria
D – donativo, dogs (everywhere, varying from terrifying to adorable)
E – Elevenses, earplugs
F – Forests, flies, figs, fountains
G – Geographer (my solo walking music), ‘Gumicukorka’ (gummies in Hungarian), Galicia
H – Hospiteleros (the people who run the albergues), hysteria, hedgehog!, highway robbery (what happened at most cafés on the camino)
I – Irún (starting point!), inspiring
J – Journaling (every day)
K – Kitchen (Is there one?!)
L – Laughing, laundry, loneliness, language, leszarom (‘I don’t give a shit’ in Hungarian and a necessary mindset to adopt)
M – Mountains, monasteries, magical, medieval
N – Nettles
O – Odorous (see: cows)
P – pueblos (villages), (don’t) pussyfoot around, playas (beaches in Spanish), peregrinos (pilgrims in Spanish), peanuts, primitivo
Q – Quechua (the brand of everyone’s hiking gear)
R – Rustling (my biggest camino pet peeve, the rustlers that started sometimes before 5 am), Rat race (for beds)
S – Snorers, sunburn, supermercado, sidra (cider), SOUSes (Slugs Of Unusual Size), scallop shells
T – ‘Twiggling’ (used in a sentence: “Lord of the Rings is boring…all the Ents are just twiggling around.” Clearly I did not utter this sentence.)
U – Ura (water in Basque)
V – Vaseline (for feet), Vegetarian (since Zarautz)
W – Wine, washer (is there one?!), whatever
X – ?!?!?!? I’m stumped on this one. I admit defeat. Help?
Y – Yo (Ok in Hungarian), Yellow (arrows and shells)
Z – Zenarruza (monastery)
Would you do the Camino one day? And camino walkers -any other words to add?