Susan had been longing to walk the Camino Francés for a long time but she had to put it off a couple of times due to different problems. She finally planned it for September 2016… only to find out that it was not possible again! She was very disappointed, but… she came across the Camino Inglés and decided that was the Camino for her. Read our conversation to know the whole story.
Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m Susan, I love adventures and learning things. What I don’t like is exercise and gyms, because it can quickly get very boring. I love to be healthy and fit, and I found that walking and hiking is just right for me. One hour in the gym vs four hours walking, there’s no contest there. I’ve been in IT all my life, and my job was to make computers easy for users, so that they could get the solution when they needed it, and where they required it. I am also a bestselling author of two books, a hiker, and now an obsessed grandmother. I am thinking of taking my four-year old granddaughter on my next camino!
When did you first hear about the Camino? When did you decide to do it?
I was going to India to visit friends, we were going to hike in the Nilgiris, a mountain range in South India. In the flight out, I saw “The Way” – and thought nothing of it. I had never heard of the Camino, and now suddenly it was everywhere. I became more and fascinated and decided to do it in 2014.
Did you prepare either physically or mentally? How?
Oh yes, I walked every day, in different types of terrain, and gradually built up stamina and endurance. By the end of 3 months, I could walk 10 kms in 3 hours carrying a 6 kg backpack. I also ate for energy, too supplements to protect my joints and build up my immunity. Mentally, I began attending pilgrim events and meetups and met others who had done long distance walks.
You were not planning to walk the Camino Inglés initially. How was your experience? Is there any particular anecdote you would like to share?
The Camino Inglés turned out to be an exquisite experience, with just enough challenge to push you. It is not an easy stroll. Parts can be challenging, and some of the stages are long. It can be long way between bars and cafés con leche! It was quiet too, and we saw only a few pilgrims. I loved Betanzos, the walled city and the medieval centre is authentic, and while it is ancient, the life within the square in the evening is pumping with music, cafés and families enjoying themselves.
You then wrote a guide for the English Way. When/why did you decide to write it and how was the process?
I decided to write it because I couldn’t find accurate documentation on the way. The distances were incorrect, and often, so were the directions. I had kept a brief journal on the way, with notes on distances and landmarks. I was also doing live streams everyday from the way. When I got back, when I was sorting the photos and videos, I kept hearing myself say – I didn’t know this – I should write a book about it…So I did.
(Read my review of Susan’s The Camino Inglés: 6 days (or less) to Santiago).
Did you learn Spanish prior to the Camino?
Yes, I tried with DuoLingo. It gave me some words. But when we reached Spain, we could understand nothing. I did print out a list of sentences and words, and I used this to communicate in a few words.
Do you think your knowledge of Spanish had any impact on your Camino?
Yes, I think I would have enjoyed it much more, and had a chance to really talk to the people – who were such friendly and helpful people – but we couldn’t talk much! Learning more than Gracias and Por Favor will make a huge difference to your experience.
But don’t let a lack of Spanish stop you!
I asked Susan to pick a few Spanish words that she thought you should all know before you start your Camino and this is her list:
- Common words: el Camino, credencial (Pilgrim’s passport), sello (stamp), Compostela (certificate of having walked at least the last 100km of any Camino).
- Greetings: Hola (hello), buenos días (good morning), buenas tardes (good afternoon/evening), gracias (thank you), disculpe (excuse me), lo siento (I’m sorry).
- ¿Dónde está…?: it means “where is…? and you can combine it with other words to ask about the location of anything. Susan has chosen albergue, el Camino and cathedral.
And now you can actually hear Susan say all these words in Spanish! She does a fantastic job too! What about you? Have you been practicing?
Susan Jagannath successfully combined a passion for reading, a love of writing and a fascination for technology, to create a career in technical writing. With over 50 technical manuals (not) to her name, she finally decided it was time to write the books she wanted to write under her own name.
As an army brat, her childhood included seven different schools, three universities and a couple of emergency evacuations from conflict zones. Travel and adventure were a normal part of life. She now believes in seizing every opportunity to have a new adventure. Whether it’s camping on the beach in Australia, trekking in the Himalayas, kayaking in Queensland, whitewater rafting down the Ganges, or walking the Camino in Spain, her philosophy is to pack it into one or two weeks to create memories for a lifetime, and inspire others to see that the right time for adventure is right now.
Her first bestseller came from her walk in Spain, The Camino Ingles: 6 days to Santiago. What also happened is that Susan fell in love with Spain, and all things Spanish, and is busy making plans to return for a longer time, and maybe, another Camino.
Susan is now on the next adventure of her life, writing books that are not technical manuals, training to be an awesome grandmother, and helping others write and publish their own bestsellers.
To learn more about Susan Jagannath (and to download the map set), you can go to https://www.susanjagannath.com
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