Learning Spanish: The Lost Luggage

June, 2012:

After 37 days walking Spain’s Camino de Santiago, every pilgrim knows what a mochila is.

  • Many bars (where we stopped for breakfast and snacks) required us to leave our mochilas outside. There was hardly enough room in some of these bars for people, let alone their 11-25 pound mochilas.
  • In some hostels, we were instructed to never put our mochilas on the beds–in that way, were our belongings harboring bedbugs, the little critters wouldn’t spread to the bed.

But maletas? I’d heard the word, and knew it had something to do with luggage, but I wasn’t clear on the exact definition. Until . .

September, 2021:

Dad and I were on our second Camino. Our bags were being picked up from our hotel each morning by the Spanish postal service, who then transported them to our next accommodation.

Until the one time they didn’t.

Well, more accurately: Dad’s bag was at the casa rural when we arrived. But mine? Nope. Which was odd as we left them together in the exact same place that morning.

But I wasn’t worried. This had happened once before–on a Camino years ago. All I had to do was have someone call Correos (the Spanish postal service), give them my starting and ending points that day, and the ID number on my luggage tag, and they would find my bag and bring it to me.

So in my meager Spanish, I explained to the owner of our casa rural my situation. She understood, grabbed her phone, and asked me, “mochila o maleta?” I still didn’t know what a maleta was. And my facial expression showed my confusion.

She took me over to the other luggage standing in the hallway waiting for its owners and pointed to a backpack–“mochila,” she said. Then she pointed to a suitcase. “Maleta.”

And just like that, the word was mine.

Spanish Postal truck— Filled with mail? Nope. Luggage.

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