Remember I was walking with strangers? Well, James was one of them. We met for the first time in Ferrol, last April 28. And the following day we started walking together with 7 other people. So, of course, he’s not a stranger anymore, after a week sharing conversations, laughs and struggles on the Camino Inglés.
You can read about James’ motivations to walk with us, as well as his impressions of the whole experience, in our conversation.
Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m James, from England. I grew up in Shropshire but now live in London. I enjoy travelling, learning languages, seeing new countries and meeting people. I work as a project manager in the rail industry.
When did you first hear about the Camino?
I first heard about the Camino from my Dad. He talked a bit about the route from Le Puy in France, but apart from that I knew very little.
Why did you decide to do it?
I was looking for an opportunity to learn Spanish that didn’t involve a classroom. One where I could meet people and experience Spain naturally. Walking the Camino seemed like the perfect opportunity and I’m very grateful for being able to share it with the group. To visit Galicia was also a big motivation for me.
Did you prepare somehow?
I didn’t do any preparation. I don’t recommend this approach.
Even though I try to stay physically fit, my legs and feet were not prepared for the amount of walking. By the third day, my left leg became quite swollen and it was a struggle to complete the long days, especially with a heavy weight on your back.
Thinking about what you will carry and doing some walking beforehand is a good idea.
Most people do the Camino on their own or with someone they know. You decided to do it differently, with a group of strangers. Why?
Without the organisation of the two Maria’s, I wouldn’t have done it.
I just didn’t know enough about the route, where to stay and eat, and how it works. All I had to do is turn up, walk, and enjoy Galicia. To do all of this independently would have been a lot of work. Also, walking it alone didn’t really appeal to me, I learned so much from talking to the other group members. You also have to try a bit harder, especially when it comes to speaking Spanish.
The group… or most of them, anyway
How was your experience on the Camino Inglés? Is there any particular anecdote you would like to share?
It was great to share the experience with such a friendly group of people. I really enjoyed it. Even after a hard day’s walking I was amazed by the amount of food we ate. In particular Matt’s demolition of 3 bowls of lentils for a starter. Gang and Ewa also had impressive appetites and Greg’s fondness for pulpo (Galician octopus) have all left a lasting impression on me.
You already knew Spanish before our walk. Would you recommend learning at least some Spanish before doing the Camino?
Knowing some Spanish beforehand is an advantage, but I wouldn’t let it stop you from doing the Camino. Regardless of your level, if your objective is to improve your Spanish, you will definitely do that on the Camino.
James’ Spanish words
As I usually do, I asked James to pick a few words that were important to him during the Camino. And this is his choice:
Whilst walking the Camino, the most important words and phrases for me were those of encouragement from a very kind Galician lady:
Estás llegando a la meta: you are reaching the goal
Que descanses: you rest
Cuida tus pies: take care of your feet
…and we made it to Santiago!
Ánimo y fuerza
Estás llegando a la met
Cuida tus pies
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