The ABCs of the Camino

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!

787 Santiago sign

 

AAlbergues (pilgrim hostels), Asturias, avocados

B – Blisters, ‘buen camino’, blackberries, bocadillos (aka lunch – baguette with avocado, tomato, roasted red pepper,cheese), boredom, Basque Country

Buen Camino - the goodbye said on the road to with other pilgrims a good journey

Buen Camino – the goodbye said on the road to wish other pilgrims a good journey

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

Cute animal of the day - this dog was so human it was amazing.

Cute animal of the day – this dog was so human it was amazing.

Ddonativo, dogs (everywhere, varying from terrifying to adorable)

E – Elevenses, earplugs

F – Forests, flies, figs, fountains

magical forest path

F is for beautiful Forests

G – Geographer (my solo walking music), ‘Gumicukorka’ (gummies in Hungarian), Galicia

HHospiteleros (the people who run the albergues), hysteria, hedgehog!, highway robbery (what happened at most cafés on the camino)

H is for HEDGEHOG!!!

H is for HEDGEHOG!!! Cannot express how excited I was to see one for the first time IN THE WILD

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

 

Top of the highest Mountain we climbed

Top of the highest Mountain we climbed  – above the clouds

N – Nettles

O – Odorous (see: cows)

Ppueblos (villages), (don’t) pussyfoot around, playas (beaches in Spanish), peregrinos (pilgrims in Spanish), peanuts, primitivo

The magical beach

The most beautiful Playa there ever was

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

Sidra in Oviedo - traditional to Asturias, a little bit is poured at a time and you have to immediately drink it before the bubbles dissapate

Sidra in Oviedo – traditional to Asturias, a little bit is poured at a time and you have to immediately drink it before the bubbles dissipate

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)

Ura stand outside of Donostia

Ura stand outside of Donostia

V – Vaseline (for feet), Vegetarian (since Zarautz)

W – Wine, washer (is there one?!), whatever

W is for Wine

W is for Wine

X – ?!?!?!? I’m stumped on this one. I admit defeat. Help?

YYo (Ok in Hungarian), Yellow (arrows and shells)

Z – Zenarruza (monastery)

 

Getting led by a monk at the Zenarruza Monastery

Getting led by a monk at the Zenarruza Monastery

Would you do the Camino one day? And camino walkers -any other words to add? 

 

 

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9 thoughts on “The ABCs of the Camino

  1. Wow, fantastic way to summarize a life changing or mind altering (?) journey! I bet I will see a change in you much as I did the first day you showed up with your bag of dirt (relics, fossils) after the Sinking Ponds dig. I love when I can see positive change in a persons eyes and expressions.

    • Thanks Marybeth! Tried to do something a little more creative this time! And I even notice changes in myself – currently I’m staying in a house in a tiny town and just cooked myself a delicious dinner – and am happy about both these things! Who am I?!

  2. Thank you, Marybeth! I did the Camino Frances last summer and I will do the Camino Primitivo next year (Sep 2015). Your writing inspired me. Thank you again! Andrew (Barefoot Pilgrim in Facebook)

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