You Might Be a Pilgrim If:

56 Ways to Identify an American Post-Camino Peregrino in Withdrawal

colorful peregrinos

*note to visitors: This post is about the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in Spain and assumes a certain amount of knowledge in readers. If you’re curious, this article gives a brief overview: “Walking the Camino de Santiago: A Beginner’s Guide

1. Goodwill will not accept your used hiking boots.

2. You carry toilet paper, extra-powered Ibuprofen, and Compeed with you at all times.

3. You wash your socks with shampoo.

4. You have a fantastic tan…but only on your left side.

5. You have seen Pablito‘s special rock.


Pablito with his special rock

6. You fear cyclists.

7. You routinely approach reception desks and ask if the hotel is “complete.”

8. You hear that Alanis Morissette song in your head when you take long walks.

9. You can say “hello” in Spanish, French, Italian, German, Portuguese, English, Dutch, Korean, and Aussie.

10. You are secretly a little bit in love with the Singing Nun of Santiago.

11. You wash your underwear with shampoo.

shell tattoo12. You either have or are contemplating a scallop-shell tattoo.

13. You’ve engaged in hour-long poncho vs. rain suit debates.

14. Folgers just doesn’t cut it anymore.

15. You can pee anywhere, and you don’t really care who sees.

16. You can pack everything you need for a 6 week trip in 10 minutes or less.

17. Your most prized possessions are field-tested socks and underwear.

18. The yellow arrow is your GPS.

Galicia yellow arrow

19. You wash your face with shampoo.

20. Whenever you go to a restaurant, you look for the Menu de Peregrino, and you can’t understand why the wine isn’t included.

Duelling backpacks21. You hoard plastic bags and diaper pins.

22. You can take a shower in 4 minutes…using only shampoo.

23. You can dry yourself off completely using a tiny ShamWow towel.

24. You’ve whittled your wardrobe down to 2 of everything.

25. You know how to say “medicated wipes,” “blister,” and “hemorrhoid” in Spanish.

26. You know and understand the many varieties of jamón.

27. You measure distance in K.

28. You only own clothing that dries really fast.

29. You walk into bars and ask for a stamp.

30. You can’t decide whether your scallop-shell tattoo should be the modern blue-and-yellow signpost one, the arty Logroño one, or the cool Navarrete one with the cross in it.

Logrono logo31. You’re not in a hurry.

32. You know to avoid the ensaladilla rusa.

33. You know to order the Ribera del Duero in Burgos, the Mencía in Villafranca del Bierzo, and the Albariño in Portomarín.

34. You wash your dishes with shampoo.

35. You do not bother to ask for tomato, mayonnaise, or lettuce on your sandwich.

36. You don’t care much about “things,” but if anything happened to your framed compostela, you’d freak out.

37. You’ve had the best conversations of your life with people who walked beside you for a single hour.

38. You love pulpo, but only a la gallega.

39. You feel like a winner when you find a free electrical outlet at bedtime.

40. After telling yourself you will never eat another tortilla española as long as you live, now it’s all you want…as long as it is recién hecho.

The David

The David

41. When you check into a hotel, you ask if there is “weefee.”

42. You do not underestimate elderly Aussies, ever.

43. You want to hug John Brierley. You want to punch John Brierley.

44. The love you feel for your hiking boots is not natural.

45. You got a hug from The David. And then another one.

46. You think the Salvation Army bell guy is a donativo stand, but he doesn’t seem to be offering any snacks.

47. You are astonished when restaurants open for dinner at 5pm.

48. You know the difference between tapas and pintxos.

49. You’re never too hungover to walk.

50. When you rinse out your Pilgrimwear, the water turns black.

Not an exaggeration.

Not an exaggeration.

51. When you sit down to lunch, you immediately take off your shoes.

52. You keep turning up the “C” knob in your home shower, but the water does not seem to be getting any more caliente.

53. You can really hold your vino tinto.

54. You wave your hands around in dark bathrooms and wait for the lights to come on.

55.  You’ve been to the “end of the world.”

56. You know that anywhere is within walking distance, as long as you have the time.

Camino grafitti

Peregrinos, what did I miss?

Please add your “you might be a pilgrim ifs” to this list in the comments section below!

You might also enjoy:

A Pilgrim’s Progress — On The Way, a 5’3″ woman’s gotta learn to be big sometimes, especially when her Big Strong Man feels small.

Camino by the Numbers — The stats: miles walked, toenails sacrificed, tears shed.

El Camino de Santiago: The Things We Carried: Pack list with photos

8 Ways to be a Kinder, Gentler Pilgrim — A few brief lessons in Camino etiquette

116 thoughts on “You Might Be a Pilgrim If:

  1. When you meet another pilgrim you both just smile knowingly. And when you meet someone planning to walk the Camino, you just smile knowingly.

  2. every day on the Camino is truly the 1st day of the rest of your life… ‘who/what am I going to see,hear,touch,taste and smell today? and it will always be FANTASTIC!’…

  3. Boy…”You hit the nail on the head” with your list, it brings back such great memories. I would ad one thing to the list: Having a cold beer at the end of the day’s trek.
    I’m looking for a repeat adventure by hiking the “Cami de Sant Jaume” section from El Port de la Selva (Port of the Forest) [on the Costa Brava, northeast Spain, adjacent to the French border], to Logrono, via: Girona; Vic; the Monastery at Montserrat; Lleida; Alcarras; Zaragoza; and along the Ebro river to Logrono. Hope to hit the trail around late Sept. or early Oct. 2014. Mike Vermillion will be joining me, so why don’t you guys come along also?

    • Hi, Brentski! That sounds fantastic! We’re hoping to do more walking sometime this year but have not decided when—possibly this spring. Thanks for the info! Happy New Year to you. 🙂

    • Hi, Lydia! My husband Hal says he LOVED the Camino documentary. He saw it in SF a couple of weeks ago. So I feel I should add: 58. You buy a cross-country plane ticket to see a Camino documentary. 🙂 If he’d had the time, he’d have walked it.

      • I drove from Portland Maine, to Montpelier, Vermont, in February (instead of snowshoeing over) to see the documentary–the next best thing to being there. Actually, there’s only being on the Camino and not exactly.

  4. …the only people who can relate to and understand your comments regarding your amazement at actually surviving the Pyrenees on your first day, feet, blister prevention, peregrino menus, snoring, clothes drying, and those, ‘I remember’ moments are other pilgrims – the rest look at you with complete in comprehension!

  5. If you just love reading all on this page – and laugh out loud when clearly remembering!
    You put it all in your inner feelings deep in your heart – it stays there forever as a very special experience; your body and heart will always remember! ❤️
    Buen camino! 👣👣👣👣👣👣

  6. – In a restaurant, you ask for more bread to eat up to the last bit of sauce of every dish, even if it’s impolite.

    – At the reception desk, you pick up all the offered candies and keep them in your pockets ‘for later’ (works also with the ones given with the bill in some restaurants).

  7. I laughed out loud at the John Brierley one. YES!

    I hugged The David at least twice. What a star.

    I’d like to add two more to your list:

    Instead of declaring your plans definitively, you now say things like, “I hope to…” and “If things work out, I’ll…” because you know *anything* can happen at any time, and you’re totally okay with that.

    You can “Cheers!” in a dozen different languages.

    • I remember the day when, instead of answering “I hope so” when people asked if I was going all the way to Santiago (from SJPP), I began answering simply “yes.” I don’t remember when the shift occurred. I also remember the day that I realized that people asking if I was going all the way to Santiago were not (necessarily) considering my age, body shape, or stamina, because people start the Camino in places other than sjpp and often do the Camino in segments, arriving in Santiago five years after they began.

  8. I laughed out loud as well at the John Brierley one. I actually ran into him and his lovely wife at Portomarin last October (2013). I’m planning to walk the del Norte in a few months. Too bad he doesn’t have a book for that route. I almost died when I saw the “54. You wave your hands around in dark bathrooms and wait for the lights to come on”. Been there, done that with more then enough times!

  9. Pingback: Day 32: Love, focus, loathing, and the day’s fourth chapter – O’Cebreiro to Triacastela | Jen's Journey – Camino de Santiago 2013

  10. Pingback: Pilgrim | troybeecham

  11. you worry about bed bugs now , when you check into the Hilton

    You end up your e- mails to friends with ” Buen Camino”

    You love to do walks where there are berries on the side of the road .

  12. You get into your bed (not a bunkbed) and realize that your backpack is Not next to your bed and you are Not sleeping in tomorrow’s Camino clothes. Feels like you’re not prepared for tomorrow!

  13. Thank you for making me laugh out loud. You captured the Camino in 56 succinct points. (And speaking of #56, that quote by Steven Wright is one of my favorites about walking.)

  14. For me, it was about getting lost and giving up control. Being lost in a womb of green in the faint misty drizzle near Samos changed my life. Giving up to the universe, and knowing that I would somehow find ‘the way’ taught me to let go and let live. The insights and synchronicity since then have been numerous.

  15. One of mine would be favorite words to hear on the Camino
    “Peregrino aqui” when a local calls to you to redirect you when you wander off the path.

  16. Pingback: Camino Resources | The 3rd Chapter

  17. You greet your family and friends and sometimes strangers with a kiss on each cheek.
    You notice people with backpacks in a crowd and smile.
    You rush the communion line at mass instead of waiting for your row’s turn.

  18. You know you are a pilgrim if there is nothing worth getting upset over. The world; you and me, we are exactly as we should be.

  19. YOU FORGOT THE VEGEMITE! But beware, do not attempt to wash your hair in it.
    David from (of course) Australia
    PS I am going again in Sept and Oct to walk and be hospitalero at San Miguel in Estella where Vegemite will be available to discerning gourmets.

  20. Brings back so many memories… Shampoo for everything! Brilliant, Kim. I also loved the fantastic tan, 5 PM opening times, and feeling like a winner when you find a plug at bedtime.

  21. 58. You have replaced your linens at home with a sleeping bag liner.
    59. You know the weight of most of your clothing in grams.
    60. You begin examining every possession you have wondering if it is worth the weight to carry it.
    61. Wearing good walking shoes surpasses all other fashion concerns.

    I wish some of these were actually made up (and, yes, I got a tattoo).

  22. You Can tell which nationality a person has by the color of their guide book, red for German, Orange for French, Yellow for all English speaking Countries… etc

  23. and of course, you take your dirty clothes in to the shower with you.
    And you find yourself absent mindedly changing your clothes in the living room while talking to family and friends… (my son did this his first day back)
    you have moments of panic when you whip around and say, “where’s my pack??”
    you still find yourself checking walls and roads for yellow arrows

  24. …if you still wake 5ish or 6ish and cannot sleep before having at least your morning cerals…

  25. buggar, which Alanis Morrissette song??? it won’t open.. that woman is ammmazzzing.. well, in the nineties when I was in love with consequence I thought her music was the duck’s gut’s australian for so bloody good.. thank you consequence,,katie…I love this blog…same sense of humour.

  26. Feeling quite happy (some time after the event) of being able to say you were ripped off by The Pancake Lady , along the Camino. And better still …. meeting others who had met the same fate.

    • Where was the Pancake Lady?? I just read your note and had a vague recollection of something involving a lady and a crepelike pancake outside someplace….

      • The Pancake Lady that we encountered (May2011) was standing on her front steps on the way out of Trabadelo. I later learned that the police had been onto her scam and she may not be there now. “Have a pancake!”…Pilgrim takes first bite of pancake/crepe…”One euro, please!”

  27. You will get the experience of sleeping with a dead old person, and singing your county’s traditional songs in a primary school in a remote village in Spain!

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