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My daughter’s in Spain for a month, hiking the 484 miles from Pamponla to Santigo de Compostela. She chose the route, rather than an equivalent, long-distance hike in the US, because she guessed that trail support would be better. (She’s completed 1,200 miles so far of the Appalachian Trail.) As she can, she’s sending family and friends tales of her adventure. Below is today’s tale.

On my way out of Logrono (a large city with a university) this morning at 8am in the dark, I was on a paved, multipurpose trail. All except 1 local person on the path responded or initiated "Hola, buenas dias", and the majority added "Buen camino" which is the customary way of wishing a pilgrim well on his-her journey. I had been in a town of about 1,200 people the night before that, in Los Arcos. The town has a nightly mass with a pilgrim’s blessing. There were about 80 to 90 people from the village in attendance for 4 of us pilgrims. At the end, many attendees left, but several stayed to echo the priest as he called us to the front and blessed our journeys.

A cynical person might say that small towns (especially) appreciate the path, because of the business it brings to their cafes and hostels. But I think they wouldn’t bother with the greetings in passing if that was all it was about for them. Instead, I think its closer to what I sort of translated the priest to say... that by being a part of our journeys, they are connected to Santiago.” As Santiago has been held up as important along this route for over a thousand years, it’s just part of their lives.

The clocks will change on Sun the 29th. It’s already hard to see the yellow painted arrows [marking the trail] on trees, stone buildings, light fixtures, sidewalks at 7.15-7.30, which is the normal time we all leave the hostels. In larger towns, I can find a cafe for an early morning coffee and wait until 8 or so. But in the tiny towns, I have to just start walking and hope that by 10am I’ll reach an open cafe. Today I had to survive with only 1 cafe con leche, but it came with a most excellent hot croissant. So that was wonderful.

Of the trio of Spaniards I had walked with, the one with the most English that acted as translator has now flown back to the Canary Islands. The other two continue on to Santiago but we can’t carry on much of a conversation. I had just finished laughing and declaring “no compende nunca" and they’d all corrected me with “no comprende nadá" when they decided to believe me and continued on with something that I was vaguely able to understand, one teasing the other as we walked along.

1st... Don´t they teach English in Madrid?
Response... Yes, but I don’t remember any.

1st... Well, if you´re gonna marry her, you better learn soon.
Response... I have many kilometers to learn.

All 3 laugh.

It was sweet and innocent, and it was the type of joking we would give each other [when I was hiking] on the AT. So I felt right at home.

I walked the last 2k or so into town today with a Korean woman. She’s read a lot about the Camino, and she told me that the nationalities on the path in order are: French, Spaniards, Germans, and then Koreans. Apparently, many Korean celebrities have mentioned or written books about the path, and it’s now very popular.

Okay, if I don’t hit send this email, it will be lost...
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