Camino – a Glossary

Bedbugs – not as common as lore would have you believe. Check your beds before getting in, and should you catch them, wash everything, even your backpack, in a laundromat at high temps. Pharmacies also sell spray.

Cafe con Leche – drink it.

Coffee – drug of choice, next to Wine ➡, on the Camino. Cafe con Leche ➡ should be your main food item, you should never trust a pilgrim who does not drink coffee.

Compostela – both part of the name of the town most pilgrims are walking towards, “Santiago de Compostela,”  Santiago of the Stars, and the name of the piece of paper every pilgrim who has walked more than 100km towards Santiago gets. It is supposed to forgive all sins, a leftover from those days when pilgrimages were essentially deferred death sentences with a small chance of survival. Also the reason pilgrims tend to sin a lot on the Camino.

Cops – 99.9% friendly. Most speak better English than some Americans. Guardia Civil is the bigger, federal, group tasked with keeping the Camino safe, but local police and state police patrol as well.

Credential – also “pilgrim passport”. A passport to be stamped at every albergue, a proof that one is indeed walking and has walked. You can get stamps (“sello”) everywhere on the Way, bars, restaurants, even a bordello in Leon has individual stamps for its performers.

Crime – generally, possibly, much lower than in your home town for most of the Camino. After Sarria it gets organized and much worse, though. The hardest part is adjusting from weeks of leaving your stuff out to never letting it out of sight. Still, it’s almost completely property crime, violence is super rare.

Diets – forget about them.

Drugs – not technically legal, but the odd joint is circling most evenings. Don’t get caught if you do it, or, better still, don’t do it. Seriously, I am not a moral person by any stretch of the imagination, but between coffee, wine, and walking, you have all the drugs you need.

Medical – the Camino Frances is essentially 30 or so simple day hikes. You’ll probably have a pharmacy and a medico (doctor) in your start or end town. Most physician’s offices speak English, if not grab someone who can translate. Write down ambulance and police phone numbers, in case you need them.

Patatas Bravas – roast potatoes, covered in hot sauce. You’ll miss them after you return home, so eat lots. Also a good way to get massive amounts of carbs into you.

Sex – happens frequently on the Camino. See “Compostela ➡” about sin forgiveness and “Vending Machines ➡.”
St. Jean-Pied-de-Port – where most pilgrims on the Camino Frances start.

Vending Machines – change along the Way. In the early towns machines sell mostly religious and Camino tchotchkes, from crosses and rosaries to shells. Then they contain medical supplies, from blister patches to headache pills, mixed with magnesium supplements and sunscreen. Later, the selection changes to mostly sex toys, condoms, and blister patches.

Wine – if you need intoxication, Estrella beer and red wine should be your go to drugs ➡. The best wines, to my tastes, happen in La Rioja, so have a feast there.

Wine Fountain – you’ll find that one in Irache, a day or two after leaving Pamplona. Bring a cup or something, don’t fill your whole water bottle, don’t be a greedy pig. The vineyards of Irache fill the fontain every morning with 200l red wine. It’s not the best, but it’s not bad, either.

Vegetarian, Vegan – being vegetarian on the Way works. I did it, and Ginny did it as well. Many have. Be careful, neither bacon nor fish are considered “meat” in Spain, and “meatless” might mean “with fish.” Being vegan… enjoy.

More Good Stuff:

About — a general about page, explaining what’s going on here, and what this “Ultreïa” Story is all about.

Stages of the Camino — a list of all stages, sorted from start to finish.

A Disclaimer — some people are unhappy, that there are sex, drugs, and bedbugs in what they consider a pure and spiritual journey. This is my answer.

Glossary — a list of terms you might encounter here or elsewhere on or about the Camino.

Privacy and GDPR — you know it, you hate it, you gotta have it.