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—Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Guide to the Camino: General Information and Advice, Part One

Spanish—Yes, you´re in Spain and you know some Spanish. But there´s always that bar in Pamplona where everything is in Basque.

Blessed are those who do not disturb the sleep of the pilgrims—If you spend the night getting drunk with an Irishman and a Belgian and joking loudly on the terrace of the albergue, the other pilgrims will be kept awake and pissed off, and you´ll spend the next day feeling guilty. However, if you talk in your sleep, if in fact you yell and pound the windows in your sleep and wake up the 70 other pilgrims in the room in the process, while you will worry they´ll think your a lunatic, they´ll just be glad your nightmare temporarily put a stop to everybody´s snoring.

Ear plugs—Surprisingly few pilgrims have them, but everyone loves to complain about being kept awake by snoring.

Touregrino—A pun on the Spanish word for pilgrim, peregrino. Some pilgrims will take the bus when they get tired, or even if the day´s walk is particularly boring (think Mesetas). Some pilgrims will have their packs sent to the next city by taxi. Spaniards are especially prone to such things. Your friend the Irish woman will tell you that everyone has a different reason for doing the camino and everyone does it in their own way, but you´ll have trouble feeling compassion for these people

Bedbugs—They are among us.

It´s your camino—You´ll hear people say this. If you´ve gotten in the habit of walking with someone, don´t be afraid to tell them you want to walk alone, and don´t be offended if someone says the same to you. Take days away from your friends. Choose your own path. It´s your camino.

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