I hope you realize I did not wander around taking tons of photos of the locals. I would be severely creeped out if people took photos of me at cafes or chilling in my hometown.
Honestly, we didn’t have too much interaction with the locals. While on trail we ran into mostly international visitors, just like us, and even some of the hospiteleros (hostel hosts) were international.
While at the Hostel Mariella we made fast friends with the hospiteleros. We walked in to get our beds for the night and they got a phone call before we finished checking in
A pilgrim was trying to make reservations for the following night, but only spoke English.
The host knew I spoke English and asked me for help.
It turned out to be an interesting challenge because the person I was talking to did not speak English as their first language. With my choppy Spanish and the help of Yan (who translated my fumbling) the man made his complicated reservation.
From that point on, Fernando kept teasing me that I was a hospitelera and he rewarded me with an ice cold coke. Having just gotten off trail this was a major treat.
I was a little bit exciteut my cola, if you can’t tell.
Getting back to the topic at hand…
Because I didn’t have tons of interaction or fluent Spanish, I am still in the dark about how the Spaniards and Basques perceived us pilgrims.
Those that ran shops, restaurants and hostels were welcoming and forgiving of poor language skills. That does make sense because their livelihood comes from the frequent pilgrims.
The villages with older communities were interesting to me. The older generations were kind and completely unfazed by the fact that all towns were built on hills and that their town’s population fluctuated with each passing pilgrim.
The one day that Jess and I took a nap then got off course of our pilgrimage we talked to a couple of locals that weren’t used to hikers. One man had us all turned around so we kept going until we ran into a woman who was most helpful, but spoke no English.
I did my best to follow directions and she must have been a saint we happened to catch sweeping her front stoop. She gave directions over and over until I got it and even showed me stairs when she used the word unfamiliar to me.
To speak very generally, the people there were kind and forgiving to those poor souls wearing a Pilgrim’s shell on their backpack.