A Camino Playlist?
It’s happened to all hikers. We’re walking, in the woods, looking around at trees and beautiful nature, supposedly deep in contemplation. But actually, we’re not. Our minds are running circles.
We’re not really used to being bored anymore in our daily lives – what with the pings of our phones and the millions of tasks on our to-do lists. Walking is an amazing physical activity, but it can leave a lot of empty mind space, too. That’s one of the joys of long-distance walking, especially on a spiritual path such as the Camino de Santiago. However, if you’re not quite ready to fully embrace that moving mediation, here’s a few things to liven up your Camino from time to time. A Camino playlist!
The obvious choice. Download a playlist before you leave home or why not create one specifically for a Camino playlist? You’ll probably want cheerful pop-songs to wake you up and get you started in the morning. For example, Walking on Sunshine (particularly adapted to rainy mornings) or 500 Miles (don’t worry, we won’t make you walk five hundred more). These Boots Are Made for Walkin’ also seems an inevitable choice at some point along the Camino. Round off your playlist with Walk on the Wild Side as you walk through the most deserted sections of the path.
More seriously, you will obviously listen to your preferred genre of music as you walk. Perhaps you will listen to the reassuring beat of old favourites to help you up the hills. Maybe you will venture into new territory, and let curiosity lead you on. We don’t recommend listening to music too loudly, though, as you want to keep an ear out along the Way – mostly for bikes along the trail and cars at road crossings.
You might find a Camino playlist that helps your mind relax. There are some lovely acoustic folk playlists on Spotify that make me think of the mountains and the outdoors, just as there are many meditation playlists available. Listening to some really calm music might help you ease into the “zen” side of your pilgrimage.
If music is not enough to keep your busy brain entertained, why not try a podcast for your Camino playlist? Podcasts are very fashionable right now, which means there is one for every taste. Film reviews, culinary, history, comedy, crime, there is even one about the Camino de Santiago.
My Camino – the podcast interviews pilgrims from all over the world about their experience on the Way to Santiago. They talk about what motivated them to go, the walk itself and the feelings they retain from the experience.
For something more light-hearted, my personal favourite comedy podcast is No Such Thing as a Fish, where the hosts explore obscure facts about the world. It often has me giggling in public with no explanation. Many newspapers have their own (free) podcast if you want to stay up to date while you’re abroad.
If the Camino’s appeal to you includes being in the heart of Spanish language and culture, then you will also find many ways to practice your language skills – whatever they may be! What a great excuse to stop during the hike and order a coffee or a beer! However, if you’re too shy to start chatting away in Spanish on the trail, you could also turn to music or podcasts for your Camino playlist to learn while you hike. There are language-learning podcasts for all levels. Beginners could start with Coffee Break Spanish or SpanishPop101. More advanced speakers might enjoy News in Slow Spanish.
If you want to check-out some native podcasts, try Radio Ambulante, about stories from Latin America; Carne Cruda, a radio program that talks about a wide variety of topics; or El Gran Apagon, a dystopian series about a world-wide black-out.
If it’s music you’re looking for – and I can tell you as a language teacher that listening to music is a great way of improving a language level – then the recent world-wide boom in reggae ton means that fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your musical tastes) Spanish music is now super popular. You’ll probably listen to Despacito (again), Senorita and some Shakira whether you want to or not, in the bars and cafés along the way. Manu Chao is more classic, and his lyrics are more meaningful and understandable. Vetusta Morla, Pony Bravo and Nudozurdo are all current Spanish indie bands … The list is endless and you will almost definitely add new bands to your Camino playlist (maybe even Galician folk bands, like Novedades Carminha) during your trip!
However, the magic of the Camino is that it’s full of open-minded people from all over the world. Sometimes you might want to cut yourself off from others, but it would be a shame to hike the whole thing with earphones in! It’s easy to talk to other hikers on the Camino and swap experiences. You will probably see the same people from day to day as many folk hike roughly the same stages to Santiago – so it’s actually a good chance to make some new friends. It’s really fascinating talking to fellow pilgrims, because they often come from very different paths of life and have all sorts of different reasons to hike the Camino.
If you are interested in speaking some Spanish, then you’re in luck! Spaniards have the most nationals hiking the Camino to Santiago, while Spanish-speaking pilgrims come from further abroad like Mexico and Argentina. Start with a “Buen Camino!” and see where that takes you!
Well, yes. After a few days – or maybe just hours – of hiking, you might want to just enjoy the sounds of the Camino. This does not mean “savour the silence”, because actually the Camino goes through a wide variety of landscapes, each with their own audio background. You’ll go through farmland and listen to the noise of heavy machinery and cows waiting to be milked. Enter a dense, eucalyptus forest and listen to the creaking of branches. Pass through a town and listen to Galician daily life, punctuated by the click clacking of pilgrim’s walking sticks on the cement pavement. These natural sounds make a great Camino playlist.
One of my clients set an intention every morning before starting off. I thought this was a great practice for a pilgrimage. Of course, it’s hard to contemplate nature all day – but maybe one intention could be to listen out for a specific sound. Or to spend a couple of kilometers lost in the background noises of the Camino. Perhaps something will speak to you.