Some people will tell you that you don’t need to know any Spanish at all in order to do the Camino.
They will say things like…
- a smile is enough.
- you can use Google Translate.
- you can find someone who speaks English.
While all of those are not false, what happens if…
- you have a problem that can’t be explained with a smile?
- your phone battery is dead or Google Translate is not working?
- there are no English speakers around?
I have asked many pilgrims and most of them think that some basic knowledge of Spanish would have helped them and improved their experience. How? By learning Spanish…
- You will feel more confident and independent.
- You will minimise potentially stressful situations.
- You will get a better response from the locals.
You could get by without Spanish but…
why would you want to just get by?
Kelli, an American pilgrim, experienced some issues during her Camino, due to her lack of Spanish. You can read about it here.
On the other hand, all those who have tried to use a bit of Spanish talk about the benefits.
This is what some of them had to say:
A few simple useful phrases go a long way toward making the locals more receptive to a pilgrim’s needs.
The fact that you try means that those who can’t speak English will go out of their way to communicate because you tried too.
For me, it was invaluable to know Spanish; I hardly spoke English for 3 weeks.
I don’t think I would have been comfortable venturing alone as I did if I had been unable to speak enough Spanish to fend for myself.
If you do speak Spanish, you for sure benefit. You can connect to the local people and have some small talk here and there and that is a lot of fun. People can be very talkative and easily invite you to whatever they are up to.
So, learn some basics and you’ll have a richer,
much more enjoyable experience!