IS IT HARD TO MAKE NEW FRIENDS ON THE CAMINO?
The answer is definitely no.
Ofcourse, there are advantages and disadvantages of walking the Camino with a friend or a group of friends.
1. You are never really alone
Yes. Well, except if you are really determined to walk the whole thing alone and ignore all the other pilgrims, which is nearly impossible. Meeting new people and seeing old ones is a big part of the Camino, you can find someone once and not see them for a week afterwards or even never, but some people are stumbling upon you on every step you make.
Besides, there are tons of people starting their journeys every day, and you being one of them, make you all equals.
On the Camino, its a whole different atmosphere, and quite busy on the summer, especially on August ( from personal experience), and meeting new people is completely inevitable then.
2. The benefits of walking alone
Walking alone was my main idea of Camino when I first heard of it.
Spending some quality time with yourself is nothing but good, besides you can clear your head, you don’t have to stress the mind of dialogues, caring about anyone, and the sound of ground crunching under your boots was my personal state of meditation for the day.
IF you don’t particularly walk with someone, you can feel more of a connection between yourself and the beautiful daily melody of the Camino route. You will always be seeing Italian or Spanish groups of people walking together all the time, chattering ( mostly the last 5 days of Camino Frances thou),
and if you are tired of walking just by yourself, most of the time just saying – ‘‘Hello’‘ to someone will make a conversation for the rest of the day.
3. What if your’e shy?
As I reckon from my Camino, there were a lot of shy people who.. I guess didn’t feel comfortable creating a conversation with random strangers. But you see, there is the trick. On the Camino, all the social boundaries just melt down.
Back in my country, I would never walk in the town square or even standing next to someone crosswalk and start to have a conversation / small talk.
I just don’t feel comfortable to do it, and if it doesn’t go as I have planned, I certainly don’t want to end up in a super weird, awkward situation. Making new friends on Camino is really simple, if you make it simple.
There is the difference – on the Camino you don’t have to think about small talk. Everything
happens naturally, if your’e interested in the person, as simple as asking questions like :
- Where did you start your pilgrimage from?
- How many days have you been walking?
- Are you planning to do the whole thing?
- Is this your first Camino pilgrimage?
- Why did you decide to do the Camino?
Stuff like this always get the ball rolling, and if your’e both interested in what your’e talking about, this probably going to end up in a day-long conversation. It just comes naturally.
And in case your’e not even comfortable of this idea, then consider bringing a close friend of yours on the Camino with you. Walking together is more interesting.
4. Type of people you will meet on the trail
- Speed racers – There are always going to be people, who will walk as fast as they physically can. Some due to a time limit ( because their plane leaves at a certain date), others just because they don’t want to walk the same pace as you, because that can get quite uncomfortable at times.
- Touristgrinos – Dropping their bags every morning at the Albergue door for a taxi to pick them up and locate them to the place where the ”pilgrims” are staying next. Taking photos of every rock, water drop, mushroom, local, god knows what else.
- Italians – Completely inevitable 😀 there are always going to be Italian fellow peregrinos making their way to Compostela. Either a group of Italians (usually), or individual Pilgrims. With which you are probably going to become friends with.
- The ”Who cares about Compostela?” Pilgrims – They consider that taking a bus, just because they don’t feel like walking today. There is a rule that you have to complete the last 100 km (Camino Frances) to receive the Santiago certificate. These type of Pilgrims don’t care about it, they have their reasons of doing it.
5. Becoming friends for life
An example from my experience too.
If you are open-minded to everything and don’t stress too much on certain things, that definitely upvotes the quality of your Camino. Meeting and talking to new people can result with a life time friends.
As I said, my main idea was to go alone, because I come from a country where it is not common to talk to strangers, but the hell with it. First 2 weeks I was walking with a Camino pilgrim with whom now I am really really good friends for life. You can find his story here too.
Because if you are doing Camino, you have at least some interest about it and what it can deliver to you, and you are not the only one like that. Everybody is. And that is your common interest with almost everybody there.
So, to summarize.
Making new friends on Camino is really fun and natural, nothing you have ever experienced. If you overcome the self-doubts of failing in conversations, and just go with the flow of the Camino, you will find amazing new people to exchange life stories.
And who knows, maybe even become friends for life. Soul mates. Buds. You name it. Open-mind is the key to a successful Camino, so let the beauty of it lead you to your Camino answer.
Got any questions about this article? Comment below and I’ll answer it!