As soon as you reach wherever you choose to start your Camino, there will be sounds that you will find hard to unhear until you reach Santiago. Some are annoying, some make you smile but they are part and parcel of the Camino de Santiago. I’ve decided to run down a few:
1. Buen Camino – Every pilgrim you meet while on the Camino will greet you with the phrase “Buen Camino”. No matter who the person is, their status, or where he or she is from, the first words they utter will be “Buen Camino”. It means “Good way”, while in Portugal, the phrase used is “Bom Caminho”. It is a great way to start off a conversation and meet people but just be careful you don’t say it to a local – I’ve been given a few strange stares 🙂
2. Crickets chirping – Ah, now this is something you don’t hear in Ireland, or the UK for that matter. The natter of crickets and other various insects during the day. If you listen closely during a warm day, you will hear them around you. This video was taken after Hospital de Orbigo in 2012.
3. The clatter of cups and saucers in cafes – You wake up and are looking for your first cafe con leche of the day. The nearest cafe is busy serving peregrinos from albergues nearby. All you can hear are cups, saucers, and spoons placed in front of a row of sleepy grumpy pilgrims. Then the coffee machine kicks into gear. After that first cup of cafe con leche and a tostada, I am awake ready to take on the world…until I reach the next cafe, that is!
4. The click-clack of walking poles with no rubber tips – Ok, I need to vent. Other peregrinos may agree with me, some may not but this sound drives me insane. If you have seen the fim Jaws, or any other horror film, you will know what I mean. Picture serenity..pure silence, then out of nowhere..the click-clacking of poles approaching you from behind. There is no escaping them..you need to stop and let them pass you by so you can have your silence. However, rubber tips on the poles stop this sound and all is normal 🙂 Vent over!
5. Snoring in albergues – Ahh, the pilgrim’s lullaby. It takes time to get used to, and the first couple of nights you may not get any sleep at all. It’s one of the major sounds of the Camino and unfortunately if you want to sleep in albergues, you will need to grin and bear it. Its a good idea to buy the best foam earplugs money can buy to ensure a restful nights sleep. However, some pilgrims just wont be silenced.
6. Church bells ringing every hour – I guarantee you that you will not need a watch in Spain. Don’t bring one. Church bells ring on the hour every hour which can be annoying also. I remember staying in Hontanas one night in 2013 and the bells in the village church belled on the hour during the night. I wasn’t that happy the next morning, let’s just say. 🙂
7. New pilgrims post-Sarria – If your Camino is due to start before Sarria, you will notice a considerable difference when you arrive there. Sarria is last town you must start on the French Way in order to obtain a compostela. Pilgrims who start here are different to those start in, let’s say, St Jean, in that they have more energy, they dress differently and there are greater numbers. There are schools and youth groups walking from Sarria and often you will hear them sing songs, and have radios playing while walking.
8. The sound of friendships being formed – Walking a Camino is the easiest way to meet people from anywhere around the world. Occupation, status, class is meaningless and what counts is how we treat each other over the few weeks we are on the trail. From the moment you set out, it is next to impossible to strike up a conversation with a total stranger. A conversation leads to laughter and that leads to being accepted into a Camino family, where everyone looks out for each other. When the time comes, email addresses are shared and we go our separate ways. I am still in touch with people from 2013. Memories are good nowadays, but they will never beat the real thing.
9. The Sound of silence – No, I’m not going to bring out my guitar and play the Simon and Garfunkel classic, but what I will say is I love walking in silence. You can’t beat walking before the sun rises, stopping to watch it rise over the horizon.
10. Bagpipes in Santiago – You have made it! You walk under the archway and into the Praza da Obradoiro with a soundtrack of bagpipes eternally playing. Who cares if they have been playing since the morning, in your mind it is music to celebrate your arrival to Santiago.
And there you have it. Are there any other sounds that remind you of the Camino? Please let me know in the comments below!