This is the second part of my conversation with Richard.
The Camino Inglés is very different from the Vía de la Plata. And you also decided to do it differently, with a group of strangers. Why?
When I first visited, I immediately fell in love with Spain, its people and culture. One of my ambitions is to be able to speak Spanish with a reasonable standard of fluency.
I am also addicted to the Camino. When the opportunity came to walk the Camino Inglés AND learn some Spanish at the same time, I couldn’t resist. I have to confess that I wondered whether walking with a group would affect my enjoyment but I was mistaken and am so glad that I decided to spend the week with the group.
However, I had arranged to walk from Santiago to Finisterre immediately after the Camino Inglés in case I needed solitude. It’s a beautiful solitary walk. The coast is breathtaking.
How was your experience on the Inglés? Is there any particular anecdote you would like to share?
The Camino Inglés was not just a physical challenge but a mental one too. Developing and maintaining the discipline to continue talking Spanish to other native English speakers is difficult, especially when you become tongue tied and frustrated. However, everyone’s commitment to the principle of immersion made sure they made every effort to stick with it.
There was plenty of laughter too, like the evening we spent learning palabrotas (Spanish swear words). My vocabulary has improved!
Also the discovery by one of our group of a new breakfast alternative to chocolate con churros – chocolate con plátano!
You already knew Spanish before your Caminos. Would you recommend learning at least some Spanish before doing the Camino? What are the benefits you enjoyed?
A little Spanish is very useful for anyone doing the Camino. You may pass through small villages where no English is spoken. If nothing else you should know how to say ‘Hello’, ‘Goodbye’, ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’ – and don’t forget how to smile. This always works!
My Spanish was sufficient for me to survive and on occasion I was able to hold brief conversations with local people to learn about their town and the life there. Generally Spanish people are really pleased if you have a go at Spanish and I found them very approachable and helpful.
The one thing I appreciated is the principle of learning a language by living it. I hope to be able to spend more time living in Spain for at least part of the year to ‘live’ the language, which I think is the best way to learn.
Also, by the way, I was treated to a lot of free beer by fellow pilgrims who occasionally needed an interpreter. Another benefit of knowing the language!
After the Camino basics he shared in the first part of our conversation, Richard has more Spanish words and phrases for you. You can listen to Richard explaining and pronouncing them all in the audio below, after the list.
Hay: there is, there are, is there, are there
¿Hay un supermercado cerca de aquí?: Is there a supermarket near here?
¿Dónde está… (el supermercado … (el camino)?: Where is … (the supermarket) … (the Camino)?
¿Se puede…? Can one… ?
los pies: feet los dedos: fingers or toes (for toes, you could also say dedos del pie)
la rodilla: knee la cadera: hip la espalda: back
el hombro: shoulder la cabeza: head los ojos: eyes
las orejas: ears la cara: face
Tengo problemas con… (mis ojos): I have problems with… (my eyes)
Me duelen (los ojos): (my eyes) hurt
Tengo un resfriado: I have a cold
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