Fabi’s advice for the Camino

Fabi’s advice for the Camino

I had a new guest in the podcast. Fabi, who is also a Spanish teacher, walked his first Camino in 2017. In our conversation, Fabi shares his experience on the Camino Francés, as well as some lessons he learned the hard way. So, if you’re planning your first Camino, pay attention to Fabi’s advice.

You can listen to our conversation in Spanish:

 

Or, if you’re not up for it, you can read here an account of what he told me. In English.

In 2027, Fabi walked the five final stages of the Camino Francés, starting in Sarria and ending in Santiago de Compostela, with 2 friends. He soon discovered that he wasn’t wearing the right shoes and after only one hour into his first day, he got his first blister. Luckily, he had a second pair of shoes, and those were a better fit, so he was able to continue.

Although he had traveled to Sarria with 2 friends, Fabi decided to walk by himself on the second day, because he wanted that time to reflect and think about his life and the future. But something else happened that second day. Half way to Palas de Rei, it started raining very heavily. Fabi was prepared for the rain. But, when he got to Palas de Rei, he couldn’t find his accommodation; so he tried to find his way with the help of his phone… but the phone got wet in the rain and it stopped working after he arrived at his albergue. The next day, on his way to Arzúa, he stopped in Melide to buy a new phone. And what do lots of pilgrims do in Melide? That’s right, eat octopus. So, that’s what Fabi did. And he drank some cider too. That was his second breakfast!

The rest of the days were less eventful, but an enjoyable experience all the same. He met pilgrims from other parts of Spain along the way and it was exciting to arrive in Santiago and sit on the square, in front of the cathedral, to celebrate together that they had made it. After that, they continued the celebration with a mariscada, or big seafood meal.

In the future, Fabi would like to walk again, either a different route, or the Francés again but in reverse, towards France.

His advice for those planning their first Camino:

    • make sure you got the right shoes, comfortable and not new.
    • the right socks are quite important too.
    • use some gel or vaseline to prevent blisters and chafing.
    • pack light. You can wash your clothes every day after you finish walking, so you don’t need to carry loads.
    • be open to new people, new places and don’t be afraid to go on your own because you will soon meet others.

Here’s where you can find Fabi:

– His website

– His podcast

– His Youtube channel

– His Instagram account

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¡Buen Camino!

Gordon’s Camino

Gordon’s Camino

In this new podcast episode I talk to Gordon Chong, who joins me from Canada.

Gordon first heard about the Camino some 40 years ago while studying European history. He was interested in the struggles of pilgrims, soldiers, and Christians in Spain and other European countries, as well as the Gothic churches in Spain.

But he wasn’t able to experience the pilgrimage, the culture and history until last year, when he walked the last 100 kilometers from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela. In the end, he enjoyed the rural life and natural surroundings more than the churches and history.

Gordon has been learning Spanish for a while and the Camino gave him the perfect opportunity to practice. Speaking Spanish helped him to interact more with locals, and stay away from more touristy places. However, he was surprised to find out how many Galicians speak gallego, and not Spanish, in their daily lives.

It took Gordon a few decades to make to to the Camino but, as it happens to many of us, he’s already planning his next one! No definite plans yet, but he would like to walk with a group of Spanish friends, so he can fully immerse in the language and the culture.

You can listen to the whole conversation here:

Would you like the transcript of this episode (and the previous 4 too)? You can now get them all for free here.

If you’d also like to participate in the podcast, I’ll be announcing how you can do it soon…

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¡Buen Camino!

A conversation with Nancy Reynolds

A conversation with Nancy Reynolds

Nancy Reynolds is a very experienced pilgrim.

She walked her first Camino in 2005, when she was dealing with many important changes in her life (divorce, quitting her job, turning 40). She came back for a second Camino in 2007. Since then, she has walked twice a year, most years. Mainly the Camino Francés, her love, as she describes it.

Nancy hosts the You on the Camino de Santiago podcast and guides groups on the Camino Francés.

The podcast is unique in that its focus is those pilgrims who are preparing for their first Camino and are full of doubts and questions. In each episode, Nancy shares her expertise on all things Camino and she also talks to people who haven’t walked yet and get to ask her about any aspects of the pilgrimage that worries them.

In our conversation for the Spanish for the Camino podcast, Nancy shared 3 tips with us:

  • Don’t be in a hurry. Take it easy, especially on your first days; you can only walk your first Camino once.
  • Spend some time thinking why? Why do you want to walk the Camino? What are your motivations?
  • Always look back! Enjoy the view, breathe… and check you’re not leaving anything behind after you stop for a break.

Nancy has been able to use the Spanish she learned in school on her many Caminos. Her ability to speak Spanish has allowed her to connect with the local people, to be a part of their daily life.

Regarding this, she has another piece of advice. Something, actually, I keep saying to anyone who wants to listen: start your conversations with a greeting. Whether you’re looking for a bed in an albergue, buying something from a pharmacy or a supermaket, remember to greet people. This is much more important, if you want to be polite and respectful, than saying gracias and por favor many times.

Nancy also shares her secret, which works both for when she’s speaking Spanish and when she’s speaking English to a non-native speaker: keep it simple. Simple grammar, simple vocabulary. Makes communication much easier for both parts.

You can listen to the whole conversation, in Spanish, here: 

 

 

Don’t forget to check Nancy’s podcast, You on the Camino de Santiago.

And you can also find out more about her guiding services at The Camino Experience.

 

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¡Buen Camino!

Fish, birds and the Camino

Fish, birds and the Camino

New podcast! I was not meant to publish a new episode this week, but there’s something going on today in many Spanish towns that I thought was worth explaining. It has to do with the Carnival, or with the end of it, to be precise. In most cases it involves fish. We do things a bit differently here in Pontevedra. So no fish for us, but a bird instead. 

 

I’m talking about el entierro de la sardina (the burial of the sardine), a celebration that typically takes places on Ash Wednesday and marks the end of the Carnival celebrations. The origin of the burial of the sardine ceremony is not clear; there are several theories. But we know for sure that it was already a very popular celebration is the 18th century.

El entierro de la sardina usually involves a parade that is kind of a mock funeral procession. Instead of colourful costumes, people wear black and the parade ends with the burning of a figure, usually a sardine.

 

As I mentioned before, we don’t bury sardines in Pontevedra and we don’t celebrate the end of the Carnival on Ash Wednesday either. We stretch the festivities a little longer.

If you’ve walked the Camino Portugués, you may have seen the statue of a parrot. It’s very close to the Peregrina church. That parrot is called Ravachol, and that’s who we bury at the end of the Carnival.

 

The pharmacy

There used to be a pharmacy where the statue is now. The pharmacy was a meeting point for politicians, artists and scientists, among others. In 1891, Perfecto Feijoo, the pharmacist, was given a parrot, that turned out to be quite mischievous.

Ravachol used to be either in the pharmacy or outside, next to it, where he could watch people pass by. He soon became a very popular character in the city. His voculabulary was not the most polite, and he was said to be quite smart. He would call his owner if a customer entered the pharmacy or insult those who didn’t give him a sweet. And he would sing during mass times at the Peregrina church across the street…

Ravachol died in 1913, after eating too much cake soaked in wine, apparently! The people of Pontevedra were devastated, and telegrams of condolences were sent from all over Spain. They organised a wake and a funeral por Ravachol. The invitation to the funeral encouraged people to wear costumes. It was a huge event, with music bands, floats and a large crowd. In 1985, a group of people decided to re-enact Ravachol’s funeral during the Carnival. It was a great success and in a couple of years it become one of the most popular events of the Carnival in Pontevedra.

Ravachol 2022
Ravachol 2023

 

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¡Buen Camino!

What is the Camino de Santiago

What is the Camino de Santiago

After 100 blog posts, I thought it was time to try other things.  I’ve been toying with the idea of starting a podcast for months. And now, finally, the Spanish for the Camino podcast is here.

Unlike the blog, podcast episodes will be in Spanish.

The idea with the blog was to help those with no Spanish at all to learn at least some basics.

But I know that some of you have those basics covered and are looking for something more advanced. And that’s where the podcast comes in. Short episodes, on not too difficult Spanish and all about the Camino.

I recorded a very short episode in English explaining what you can expect from the podcast. And… you can also listen to the first ‘proper’ episode. In Spanish.

Episode 1

To give you some context before you listen: the title of Episode 1 is ‘Qué es el Camino de Santiago’ or, in English, ‘What is the Camino de Santiago’.

In this episode you’ll hear an overview of what the Camino is and how it started. You will also hear what the main routes are within Spain and some of the most common motivations to walk.

Without getting into too many details, because the episode is just over 6 minutes long.

 

The plan

The plan is not to turn the podcast into some sort of Camino encyclopaedia with lots of data (there already are some fantastic websites out there with plenty of information). The plan is to give you an opportunity to improve your Spanish while listening about one of your favourite topics: the Camino.

If you know me, you’ve probably heard me talk about the importance of consistency when learning a language. If you’re going to do 1 hour of Spanish a week, it’s much better to split it into shorter periods and do around 10 minutes a day, rather than doing the whole hour the same day.

And that’s one of the reasons why I plan to keep the podcast episodes short. They could be your 10 minutes of Spanish a day.

OK. Enough explaining.

 

The podcast

 

 

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¡Buen Camino!