Friends on the Camino

I made my first friends in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. We met on the train from Bayonne, and then a few times during the first few days. They were my first camiagas, a portmanteu of Camino and Amiga/Amigo, friend.

Some pilgrims formed fast “Camino Families,” walking together until the end. Many others cultivated the kinds of friendship that lets everyone walk their own Way but happily spend the evenings with others at pre-arranged meeting days.

I wrote about Sex on the Camino elsewhere, but it goes without saying that it happens. A lot more than some people like to hear (who cares what others do?), and a lot less than some accounts suggest. A none too small group of pilgrims are in their early to late 20s, young, unattached, and a hookup or Camino Friends with Benefits does not hurt anyone.

One thing most of those friendships have in common, though, is their longevity. I am still friends and communicate frequently with quite a few of those camino friends I have met over the years. Some could not be more different from me, politically, religiously, or socially. But we all share a few simple things, chief among them the Camino Experience.


Starting with my second Camino I brought small “business card” style cards. They were (no endorsement) made by Moo and about 1/3rd the size of a regular card. On it, I had my name, Instagram and Flickr usernames, and the “Ultreïa et Suseïa” motto. If I enjoyed time with them, we exchanged those deets, arranged later meetups in other towns, or a final meeting in Finisterre (I consider the Muxia stage to be very personal and did not want to meet or see anyone while I cried my eyes out).

Installing What3Words allowed me to tell people pretty precisely where I was, which greatly increased the chances of meeting up (see: Tech on the Camino).