Adventure, Camino de Santiago, Hiking, Spiritual Practice, Travel

To the Camino, with Gratitude

One of the more elaborate Buen Camino signs

One of the more elaborate Buen Camino signs

The last few nights I have dreamed that I was walking long distances outdoors; I guess the Camino is still rooted in my subconscious and in my body, which has been conditioned to keep moving.  With no more yellow arrows to follow, will I take up sleepwalking?!   Since it’s Thanksgiving, here are some appreciations, from A to Z.

Albergues:  Whether they were state of the art, with touch screen stoves and leg massage machines, or, in one case, a boxy shipping container filled with bunk beds, I always had a place to sleep.

Buen Camino:  The encouraging greeting offered by strangers and Pilgrims alike.

Credencial:  My Pilgrim “passport”, stamped with colorful seals of the places I visited and stayed.

Desayuno:  I got hooked on my Spanish breakfast of a (decaf) cafe con leche with a napoletana. 

Emulgel:  The magic muscle relaxant, produced by Novartis, that many of us massaged into our legs.

Friolera:  An addition to my vocabulary, meaning “someone who tends to get cold.”

Gazpacho: sold in cartons, in supermarkets and vending machines, some of the best I’ve ever had.

Hospitaleros:  The managers and hosts at the albergues who, for the most part, helped ease the journey.

Internet:   It was there when I needed it, with pay-by-the-hour computers.  And I was glad to discover that, after a few weeks, I didn’t really miss it.

John Brierley:  Author of my guidebook whose spiritual reflections helped me reconsider some of my more challenging experiences.

Kelty:  Manufacturer of my backpack, now going on ten years.

Lights:  Most albergues, restaurants and bars had either motion sensor or timed lights in the restrooms.  While I admire Spain’s determination to consume less energy, I did have to remember to wave my arms around so I wouldn’t be left sitting in the dark.

Music by Minna Bromberg helped drown out the snoring at night.

Napoletana:  Spanish equivalent of a chocolate croissant.

Octopus: Pulpo in Spanish.  As tasty as it is ugly.

Peregrinos:  The other Pilgrims who, whether they knew it or not, helped me see myself more clearly simply by showing up.

Queso:  Cheese, whether cow, sheep or goat or, as in common in Spain, all three mixed together.  Delicious weight I was willing to carry.

Rainbows:  They appeared when I needed to see one, including gasp-inducing double rainbows that arced across the sky (much like in Colorado).

Siesta:  In Spain, it is perfectly normal, if not encouraged, to take a nap after walking.  Rest is an integral part of any intense physical endeavor.

Trekking Poles:  They kept me upright and moving on many days.

Ultreia:  One of the more common Pilgrim graffiti/encouragements (click the link for a definition)

Vending Machines:  They sold everything, from delicious, customized hot drinks, to bandages and blister care products.

Weather:  I was quite lucky: three mountain crossings with either full or partial visibility, only a few days of intense rain.  I was prepared for the worst but, fortunately, was spared.

X:  a letter omnipresent in Gallego, the language of Galicia.  Some of their words even begin with “X”, which is probably a boon to any Galician scrabble players.

Y:  I’m still not sure of all the deeper reasons why I went on the Camino, but maybe I don’t need to know that now.

Zumo:  Fresh juice, usually orange, always ambrosia.


About ilona fried

Writer, Feldenkrais champion, Aikidoka and explorer of internal and external landscapes.


6 thoughts on “To the Camino, with Gratitude

  1. Beautifully thoughtful post! Love the creative way of saying thanks.

    Posted by thoughtsontheatre | November 22, 2012, 9:23 am


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