3 reasons to learn Spanish before the Camino – Spanish for the Camino

by learn a language journalist

2. Respect & connection

Making an effort to use the local language shows respect for your host country. And Spanish people are generally pleased if you have a go at Spanish. Give it a try and you’ll experience a warmer welcome.

Even basic greetings such as hola (hello), buenos días (good morning) or buenas tardes (good evening) can open doors that would remain otherwise closed. Polite words like gracias (thank you) and por favor (please) will go a long way too.

In Spain, people acknowledge each other with hola or the greeting of the time of day.  Even relative strangers. And we will say hasta luego (see you later) or a clipped version of this at parting. So remember to greet before launching into asking a question. This applies in shops, doctors’ waiting rooms, elevators, before ordering food or even a café con leche at a bar… everywhere. 

Anyone who tried their Spanish on the Camino, no matter how limited it was, will tell you this: they got a much better reaction from the locals. 

Of course, the better your knowledge of Spanish, the better chances at making deeper connections with the locals and knowing what’s going on around you. OK. So, you find yourself in a small village where nobody speaks English.

If you’re the “a smile is enough” type, chances are you’ll spend the evening by yourself.  You’d love to know what that festival is about or why people are wearing strange clothes, but communicating with these people is too hard. You’re missing an opportunity to learn about local traditions, history, culture.

And this brings me to the next reason to learn Spanish before the Camino.

3. Broaden your mind

We all know the Camino can be a life-changing experience, a wonderful opportunity to become a truer version of ourselves, find answers, heal, etc. But why limit the experience to learning about ourselves? There are people on the Camino who have never been to Spain before. Their “knowledge” about Spain is in many cases full of stereotypes and misconceptions bearing little resemblance with reality. They spend days, probably weeks, walking through Spain. Yet, they go back home full of the same stereotypes.

I see this every now and then in Camino-related Facebook groups. There’s one case in particular that caught my attention: This couple was sharing their journey along the Camino Portugués. Neither the husband nor the wife knew any Spanish. Every day, they posted pictures of their stage, with their comments. Every day, at least one of the pic’s descriptions showed a couple of things:

 

In essence, maybe the Camino was a very spiritual experience for them, but they missed the opportunity to broaden their minds, to learn about Spain and its culture.

3 reasons to learn Spanish before the Camino and countless benefits.

This content was originally published here.

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