A Sexier Ass in 30 days? That’s a Given, Baby – Why the Camino Bestows an Allure that Lasts all Winter.

walking uphill

My ass was in excellent condition when I finished the Camino del Norte this summer. I was leaner, with toned legs and “a bit of colour” – which is as sun-kissed as someone with decidedly northern european colouring can manage without flirting with a melanoma or suchlike.

But it’s true that summer’s lease hath all too short a date, and my fleetingly toned thighs and rear have given way to flabbier, more pallid self (or “the real me” as any acquaintance might recognise).

But the Camino’s sexiness bestowing powers are more than skin deep!

So here are 5 sexiness enhancing attributes that will last you long into winter:

1. Improved fluency in other languages

Language learning can be a bit sexy, or make you an enormous arse (not of the sexy toned kind). If you are one one of the webs growing community of language learners, you might wish to flex some lingual muscle chatting to some of the many nationalities on the camino.

Walkers are still predominantly Spanish, and if you’re looking for some low cost hispanic immersion, you can definitely find it here. The Ruta del Norte still isn’t as commercial as the French Way, and 30 days of café con leche and the odd caña will certainly give you a solid “holidaymaker’s level”.

Following the publication of French intellectual, Jean Christophe Rufin’s “Immortelle randonée, Compostelle malgré moi” there are a fair number of Frenchies to be found en-route, so learners of the language of Voltaire won’t be disappointed either.

Avoid being an enormous arse by 1) not making prior assumptions about any one person’s level of any given language and 2) being courteous with those who wish to practice their English with you.

2. Amigos Internacionales

On the french route much is made of “a camino family”, a concept I find frankly claustrophobia-inducing (anybody with me on this?). The Camino del Norte offers a more gentle camaraderie on the level of a facebook friend. Return with tales of “your new family” and your mates will think you’ve joined a cult. Return with a scattering of potential European coffee dates and you will instantly seem enchantingly more mondaine.

3. An Enviable Instagram Feed

The millennials are sexy on and offline. I was born in 1980 and as such missed the party by a whisker (very much my general style), my brother, only 18 months younger, is a child of the age of IT.

What makes instagram so annoying, are of course the captions: “enjoying a coffee in Bilbao #caminodesantiago”. Forgo this level of banality. Tell people “yeah, I’m just using it as as sort of visual diary”, and post a date and the hashtag. This alone is more difficult than it sounds as both wifi and plugs can be at a premium.

The occasional, well curated yellow arrow tells a story. Don’t snap ’em all.

Alternatively do snap ’em all. Every last one of the bastards. Geotag and provide a detailed description of each one. You’ll be walking for two extra weeks (at least), but some news media outlet will take up the story of one walker’s obsession with yellow paint.

This should not need said but: DO NOT POST PICTURES OF YOUR FEET.

4. Real or Imagined Survival Skills

But predominantly imagined ones. The important thing is that you survived in the Spanish wilderness with only a flick-knife  some safety pins and your credit card. And that card was NOT accepted at all local retailers.

To your friends in an office in Luton, you might as well be Bear Ghrylls.

5. Profound Insights and Wisdom from this Mediative Experience.

Nietzche, Kant, Bear Grylls, that French one (see above), Dickens, Orwell and Ray Mears .

Many great thinkers and writers are great walkers. Thankfully, and the human brain is better at lazy association than an imagined venn diagram where you are placed within in the “walkers but not thinkers” crescent.

Step after step on the white stones on the forest floor, being buffeted in a costal crosswind or sheltering from a torrential downpour under one of those charming Galician grain shelters, it would be easy to think you were contemplating the greater matters in life, and it’s in the interests of your sexiness that you cultivate this. “I’m running out of Compeed*”, “I think I left my towel in the last albergue” or “I hope that snoring guy isn’t there tonight” don’t have the same pulling power.

My own most profound insight from the Camino was that Paulo Coelho’s the Alchemist is a reliable and powerful “screening question” at parties. “I totally love that book” should provoke a sudden, and urgent need for a trip to the toilet.

*other blister plasters are available, but none are as good.

That wary feeling that causes me to procrastinate stuff

Waking up late is a pain in the ass.

The day is delayed, it’s an unwitting form form of procrastination.

But I do believe a good night’s kip is time well spent.

In the coming year I will be trying to become a little bit more of a lark. My heart sinks when, after watching videos until 1am, I see that it’s 11.45am on a Saturday and, rolling into the blankets with the depression of this information, the next time I look it’s already the afternoon. Eating porridge in a dressing gown and slippers after midday puts a depressingly student-like spin on the day. It seems the later half of the day will inevitably slide towards the truly mindless pursuit of watching daytime television. (And thanks to something called “Salvame”*, this can’t even be construed a productive exercise in Spanish learning!).

I want to move forward in my writing, drawing and spanish, while maintaining my french! So why are these the things which are pushed so far down my “to do” list, that they inevitably fall off, onto the next day’s routine activities, and the cycle begins again?

I’m not one who believes in physical discomfort. I suspect my biology is the boss of me, rather than the other way around. I want to sleep 8 hours a night, and I think cooking your own food from scratch (soup, salads, nowt fancy) is a serious investment in your future health.

There’s the tricky business of earning money. Which tends to take up quite a bit of time.

I’ve recently taken quite the pay cut, and moved into the area of language teaching (English 🙂  ), with a view to facilitate the above goals. Because I’m new to it, it hasn’t, so far, freed up the hours that I’d hoped, but I’m now four months in and the fact that I’ve now got some language exchanges on the go reflects that now I do have a little more time.

But time is no obstacle for the master procrastinator. For example, I have just stopped myself opening a new browser window for the pressing matter or whether the brand of cowboy boots I am considering would be a solid purchase. As I’m actually writing about procrastination, my willpower has held out on this occasion.

So, in relation to the ol’ earning money element of spending time, this weekend I have to write some end of term reports for kids I teach. I have some verbal spanish, but almost no written skills and as such it is likely to take me a number of quite painful hours. I could look upon it as a learning experience, but the frustrating thing would be that it probably wouldn’t be presentable in the end anyway.

The idea came to me to “outsource” the work.

I know, how very 2009 of me.

I’d already written the English versions of their reports on one of my recent train journeys. Being in table format I was able to anonymise them by giving each student a number and using this to identify them in the text.

But because I’ve never done it before, I feel wary! and I’m procrastinating it… !! I’m wondering if it won’t work, and if, at the last minute i’ll have to cobble together some pitiful Spanish.

So I thought I’d write a quick blog post, a “before”, if you will.

The other question is, having freed up this time, will I use it on one of my goals, or shall I end up watching inane youtube videos?

* this is certainly a post for another time