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2019 Camino Guides

Interacting in spanish with locals in general and specially on the CF

Camino(s) past & future
First one planned for May 2019: Camino Francés
#1
I`ve just started studying spanish - once a week a four-hour-unit. Rest of the week is needed to catch up with the stuff we've just got explained and memorize the vocabulary :eek:. I'm a quick study and fortunately there`s a major focus on dialogue, so hopefully I'll be able to to talk about basic topics when walking in Spain starting in May 2019 plus of course hopefully being able to understand the answers :D.

This afternoon one thought came up which I'd be very interested to get an estimation of from pilgrims who're speaking spanish as a second or third language and who've already walked a camino: Are the locals still interested in interacting with pilgrims - especially on the CF? Since there are so many pilgrims turning up year after year - specially during springtime, summer and autumn - are they patient with someone who's not really fluent in their language or do they - understandably - get tired of it and keep any conversation sort of short?
 
Camino(s) past & future
walked Camino Frances 2012, future June 26 2016 / Burgos to Santiago July 2017 future Camino Fran
#2
Good luck with that , i was like a mime artist on the Camino, speaking a broad Scottish accent even the English had problems understanding me but luckily the Irish came to my rescue and relayed my conversation.
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#3
The locals are accustomed to pilgrims. They will be very supportive of your use of Spanish. However, they don't need new friends (that guy who got his cafe ahead of you out of arrival order is one of their friends). Instead, remember that half the pilgrims are from Spain, and they will love conversing with someone from elsewhere in the world, and they will be very supportive of your Spanish (they may not know much English, so probably have been avoiding non-Spanish pilgrims except for the pleasantries). Take advantage of the experience that you are sharing as a conversation starter. You can expand on that as you walk or share a meal, though religion and politics may not be good subjects!
 
Camino(s) past & future
2018 CF Jan-Feb, Roncesvalles - SdC - Muxia - Fisterra
#4
...Are the locals still interested in interacting with pilgrims - especially on the CF? Since there are so many pilgrims turning up year after year - specially during springtime, summer and autumn - are they patient with someone who's not really fluent in their language or do they - understandably - get tired of it and keep any conversation sort of short?
I lived in Logroño for 2 years in the late 90's and have visited Spain many times over the years. My experience is that for the most part the locals, especially in villages, are very social and friendly. I'm about 194cm tall (~6'4") and the old spaghetti western entering a bar moment never gets old.

This is particularly true in bars and cafes where you can watch walk in, say hello to the group and start speaking to the person next to them as if they have known each other for years. That is not to say that everybody is going to be excited to have you ask for their wifi password as the first point of communication as this seemed to be the pet-peeve of many people locals that I chatted with. I would have to imagine that that the summer "tourigrinos" get challenging at times.

Speaking Spanish is certainly advisable but it isn't necessary. As @angus55morrison mentioned above, sometimes a good hand gesticulating vocabulary can make things so much easier!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2016, Mansill de las Mulas to Finisterre and Muxia 2017, Camino Aragones 2018
#5
My experiences in converations with the many of the locals has been dependent on three things, how much interest you display in them and their village, how well you speak Spanish, also how busy they are. Last year complimenting a especially delicious tortilla turned into a lesson in how to prepare one. This year learning the name of the piquillo peppers earned a gift of a bag full to share with other pilgrims. They will appreciate your efforts as long as you do not mangle the language too badly and can conjugate the verbs.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, Burgos-SdC May-June 2016; CF: The whole enchilada April-June 2018
#6
I think folks everywhere appreciate your efforts when you speak to them in their own language, whether you’re in Spain or China. My Spanish is pretty basic, but it was 1) helpful in getting things done (reservations, directions, etc.), and 2) served as an icebreaker in some situations. This spring in the Rioja region, we took time to ask a man working in his vineyard why some vines were trained on wires and some weren’t. We had a nice long conversation (I didn’t understand all of it but enough) about viniculture, middlemen and economics. A very enjoyable diversion for all of us, and it wouldn’t have been possible without some Spanish.

Even more than language — be sure and treat the folks you meet with respect and courtesy. Show them you appreciate their hard work, their food and wine, their villages and beautiful country, their care for pilgrims, and you will have ample opportunities for meaningful interaction. We saw too many pilgrims treat locals, especially in the bars and restaurants, as a means to their own ends, rather than as human beings.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Several and counting...
#7
I'm 2800 km along the Via Francigena at the moment in Puglia but have walked Caminos in France, Spain and Portugal too. I have reasonable Italian, fair French and learned Spanish two years ago. I walk alone and prefer the "lonelier" routes. Every word of the language you can muster will repay you tenfold and perhaps one hundred fold I think. I love speaking to farmers and fishers and "ordinary" people. For me, this is much more rewarding than a "Camino family". If I wanted to speak.to English speakers I'd stay at home! 99% of people are happy that you make the effort.
€100 euros of lessons is a great investment and you really can learn the rest off YouTube. And I keep saying this : there are no discounts on Bookingdotcom, but if you ring up your accommodation you'll get your 100 euros back very quickly.
 

notion900

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
>
#8
I speak Spanish to B1.4. I get treated like a queen wherever I go. I just looked up a Skype message I sent my mom in August from Salamanca:

"In Spain 24 hours. Already been called cariña, corazón, kissed 4 times by a lady I asked directions from, invited to a wedding and a fiesta"
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
#9
A few tips: Use the word castellano instead of espanol. Practice talking about yourself so you can answer people's questions about you. Collect a good vocabulary for topics of interest to you so you can get in good conversations about common interests. Learn and use greetings, courtesy sayings, etc. in Euskadi/Basque and something like "I can't speak Euskadi; may we speak castellano?" In either Spanish or Euskadi. I say this because my sweet, pleasant Spanish greetings ;) to people I encountered in Basque country got a reaction more like this :mad: than this :). I didn't see this in Galicia but knowing the same statements in Gallego wouldn't hurt.
 

MichaelC

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
August 2017: Le Puy to Santiago
July 2019: Cammino di Assisi (La Verna to Assisi)
#10
Since there are so many pilgrims turning up year after year - specially during springtime, summer and autumn - are they patient with someone who's not really fluent in their language or do they - understandably - get tired of it and keep any conversation sort of short?
It varied. In Navarre and La Rioja, in October, I got the definite impression that the locals were just over it & ready for the season to end. They'd speak Spanish with pilgrims with a good command of Spanish, but I didn't meet anyone who had any patience for an intermediate-level speaker until well into the second week.

After that, in Castille and Galicia, the locals would speak Spanish with me close to 100% of the time. They'd only switch to English if needed. But by then I was also walking off-stage, and mostly avoiding the crowds.
 

Helen1

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
London to Santiago (2014)
Narbonne to Oloron (2015)
Camino Portugues (2016)
Sentier Cathar (2017)
#11
One night on the CF this summer I hooked up with a couple of French guys who were totally fed up with what they called Disneyland Camino and the use of English. The albergue staff spoke in English by default, there was an English menu and the waiters at dinner spoke in English. The two French guys who spoke fluent French, Spanish and English played dumb and refused to understand anything until they were asked in Spanish! Their antics tickled me. I had taken my phrasebook to dinner for additional help which was how we got talking :)

Have to say although I had a lovely stay, very friendly welcome and good food at Hostal Restaurante Camino Real, Disneyland Camino was a pretty good description of the place. There was a bus of load people with suitcases getting them transported. English was the lingua franca. Lots of very, very loud people at dinner living up to national stereotypes. I guess it just depends where you stay. On the other hand on the VDLP I really missed out being unable to communicate properly.
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
#12
On the other hand on the VDLP I really missed out being unable to communicate properly
In lots of ways the VdlP is far closer in spirit to the Camino Frances of the 1990s than the Camino Frances of today. The absence of English is one of those features. It is a route which demands a lot more from those who walk it but that has probably spared it from the worst of the three-ring-circus that the Frances has become.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF: (2001, 2002, 2004, 2014). Hospitalera: 2002, Ponferrada. 2004, Rabanal del Camino.
#13
I'm 2800 km along the Via Francigena at the moment in Puglia but have walked Caminos in France, Spain and Portugal too. I have reasonable Italian, fair French and learned Spanish two years ago. I walk alone and prefer the "lonelier" routes. Every word of the language you can muster will repay you tenfold and perhaps one hundred fold I think. I love speaking to farmers and fishers and "ordinary" people. For me, this is much more rewarding than a "Camino family". If I wanted to speak.to English speakers I'd stay at home! 99% of people are happy that you make the effort.
€100 euros of lessons is a great investment and you really can learn the rest off YouTube. And I keep saying this : there are no discounts on Bookingdotcom, but if you ring up your accommodation you'll get your 100 euros back very quickly.
Wish I were there.

Buen camino.
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2015)
#14
Just speak the language as much as you can and don't worry about making mistakes. One of my best memories in Santiago de Compostela after walking the Camino Primitivo was in a restaurant. I mispronounced the word mochila (backpack), and the waiter asked me if I was carrying a small city on my back. He laughed (not in a bad way) and explained what I had done. All locals I have met appreciate you trying, and with humor will correct you so you will never say that particular word or phrase wrong again!!
 
Camino(s) past & future
First one planned for May 2019: Camino Francés
#15
Muchas gracias for all your helpful answers.

Today we practiced almost all the time talking in our spanish class. It took again some time till almost all of us got over their initial shyness to speak in another language ;), but then it was fun.

I've also found an online-offer of a language exchange to find native speakers in ones hometown, so both can help each other learning the other language. There are surprisingly quite a few spanish native speakers living in my hometown, so I hope I'll be able to find one or two who'll be interested in an exchange vice versa.

PS Just in case anyone else wants to check out for themselves: click.
 

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