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The big map o the Caminos de Santiago

Are pilgrims sheep to be fleeced?

Jakke

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugues (2016)
Via de la Plata / Sanabrés (2017)
Barcelona - Fisterra (2018)
#1
Bom dia from Santarém!

A couple of remarks.

There was a discussion during breakfast (at N1 - nice place). A local judge thought the Camino should be more exploited. I can see her point and that exploitation is to an extend unavoidable and even necessary. Hard working people deserve an income.

However, I do not want to be a sheep that is being fleeced. I guess, it is up to us to make sure this clearly remains a pilgrimage. We want to grow as human beings in every respect.

Obervation nr 2. Anyone taking the path along the river to the friendly albergue in Alpriate will probably feel like I did: "What a beautiful country ... what an absolute dump am I walking through!" Some garage is using the path to dump their used oilfilters, others (pilgrims?!) dumped hundreds of bottles . I think that the problem is too large to be dealt with, e.g., by concerned pilgrims picking up some stuff. Just wondered- what kind of impact would a friendly letter from an organization have?

Bom caminho, fellow pilgrims!
 

Stripey Socks

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances- 2013,Via de la Plata-2014, Portuguese - 2016, Via Francigena - Italy 2018
#2
Yes, Jakke. I was also distressed by the amount of illegal dumping I saw. I walked from Lisbon to SdC in May/June this year and could not believe that the locals could have so little respect for their beautiful environment. I also felt the same thing when I walked the Via de la Plata and Frances through Spain.

I am not sure it is something we can influence. Perhaps legal dumping options are too expensive or it is a cultural thing or simply laziness?? Unfortunately they will probably realise it too late and then be faced with a massive clean-up expense. We are far from perfect in Australia but do have penalties in place to try to deter this sort of activity.

All part of the travel experience I guess and perhaps it is not our role to judge.
Bom caminho too!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy (2010; 2016), Norte, Primitivo, Muxia/Fisterra (2010), Mozarabe, Via de la Plata, Sanabres (2011), Arles, Aragones, Frances (2015)
#3
Hi Jakke :)

To continue on "Obs n.1": I understand the temptation... Although lately, the exploitation mostly doesn't come from the people, but from the European Union. Billions certainly have been given to build and manage infrastructures to deal with the growing mass of pilgrims that goes to Santiago every year. Not sure who profits from it???
Also, to "old" pilgrims (saying, those who walked it some years ago), the Camino is already "more exploited" (even too much, some would say): it is particularly true on the Frances, as other secondary Caminos are not "as bad".
I sure hope they won't all become like the Frances! (I like it too, but I like quieter and more human-scale better)
I agree with you about the sheep (baaaaaa... don't want to be a sheep either!), the pilgrimage (let it be "it" forever!), the "up to us" and "grow as human beings" (... well said!!!) :)

As for "n.2": Don't know this particularly path, but I've been on so many just like this... :eek: Spain still has a culture of dumping trash anywhere (and an amazing public service cleaning after people in many cities). Perfect examples of this fact are bars. People just drop everything on the ground, to the point it's sometimes sickening... (experience talking) It's part of a bartenders "normal" chores to clean up the floor, table and counter thousand times a day.
I'll moderate myself by pressing the point that things tend to change! There are more and more places asking people to use garbage, a lot of advertisement around sanitary attitudes. On the Camino too: I discovered the social project "a paseo limpio" (clean passing) last year and thought it was a great idea.
Pilgrim are also a big part of the problem. I've seen some people throwing stuffs away who would not have done it in their own countries... I'll even pass on the "poop issue" that has become so large (and gross, let's say it!) that locals feel like they have to put a sign asking pilgrims not to do their business anywhere. When I stop and consider this necessity, I'm pretty ashamed for the pilgrim family...
I just feel like quoting you again, Jakke: "up to us" and "grow as human beings in every respect". Again, well said! :)

And I'll end with a thought, tribute and hat off to Serge, a very quiet/humble/joyful pilgrim who made the Way his home and who made it his personal mission to clean up our pilgrim's mess and pick up our trash after us. Amazingly shamming amount of garbage that is. May you be repaid for the good you do to the Way and us all! Thank you! :)


 

Kate fowles

Meerkat kate
Camino(s) past & future
None yet
#4
I am very keen to do a camino route - in fact we have considered the French route, the Portuguese route and now since reading Tony Kevin's book, I am keen to walk from Ganada to merida etc. All this talk about rubish etc is making me a bit worried. Is Spain that dirty? I am not squeemish but I am looking for a special and memorable hiking experience and obviously keen to see some art and culture but also nature. Is it worth doing the Camino ? Which route is the quietest - seeking peace and tranquility (obviously safety too) but also seeking hiking through beautiful mountains and nature. It's a long long trip for us from the Southern hemisphere. We gave hiked many long and tough hikes in South Africa. If anyone has advice it's most appreciated.
 

tominrm

Hiking to Celebrate the End of Working Life.
Camino(s) past & future
CF(2014)
del Norte ( 2015)
Portuguese ( 2016)
Primitivo ( 2017)
VdlP (2018)
#5
I, too, felt bad about illegal dumping of garbage, especially construction debris along the Camino in Portugal this past Spring. Obviously legal dumping costs a lot of money in the country, and the authorities do not have the resources to stop or catch perpetrators. The economic conditions of Portugal is less robust than that of Spain. Also people's perception on Camino is much different in the two countries. I once was asked by a driver in a car who stopped to ask where I was walking to.
 

Jakke

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugues (2016)
Via de la Plata / Sanabrés (2017)
Barcelona - Fisterra (2018)
#6
I am very keen to do a camino route - in fact we have considered the French route, the Portuguese route and now since reading Tony Kevin's book, I am keen to walk from Ganada to merida etc. All this talk about rubish etc is making me a bit worried. Is Spain that dirty? I am not squeemish but I am looking for a special and memorable hiking experience and obviously keen to see some art and culture but also nature. Is it worth doing the Camino ? Which route is the quietest - seeking peace and tranquility (obviously safety too) but also seeking hiking through beautiful mountains and nature. It's a long long trip for us from the Southern hemisphere. We gave hiked many long and tough hikes in South Africa. If anyone has advice it's most appreciated.
Hi Kate! I can only speak for the CP. Yes, you'll see illegal dumps that are a real danger to nature. However, you'll also see a lot of beauty. Today I walked from Santarém and came through several very clean and beautiful villages. Dumps are certainly not the rule, but the sad exceptions. No reason to stop you from walking the CP. Bom caminho!
 

Smallest_Sparrow

Life is rarely what you expect or believe it to be
Camino(s) past & future
2012: most of some, all of a few, a bit of others
#7
Unfortunately where humans go, so goes piles of trash, especially in areas where the dumpers think no one will see them. I am inspired by posts like this, and the Camino pig clean up: I hope to walk the El Camino Real in the next year or so, and I'll take along trash bags to clean as I go...only drawback I see is I might be mistaken for a road crew doing court-ordered community service:rolleyes:
I think people who don't make a living off of the Camino are less likely to have heard of it...people in some of the larger cities on the Norte had no idea which way I should go to find the Camino when I got lost. On the CF it seemed almost like a game where locals vied to see who turned the most lost pilgrims to the right path.
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
#8
Ditch Pigs are obliged to wear high-vis vests while we romp about the Spanish countryside (a request from the Guardia Civil) though I'm not sure why and we only really ever do it when there is fast traffic about. There are also 'rules' that suggest that we can 'pig' the senda but not the verge of the high-way such as on the stretch up from Fromista to Carrion de los Condes. Apparently there are indeed road-crew on community service who are supposed to do that stretch. Similarly we aren't supposed to bag-it-up within urban areas where there are people employed to do that sort of thing.

As far as this pig is concerned basura is basura. I'll 'ave it where-ever it is. In these straightened times our local street-sweeper is only allowed out on every-other Thursday as long as its not raining and the poor bugger isn't allowed off-piste onto the foot-paths and by-ways that country-lovers scatter with their picnic detritus every week-end. I'm not hampered by such constraints.

And this is so far off-topic from the OP that I ought to delete my post and send myself some warning-points.

So, in my second sci-fi reference of the week - do Albergues dream of electric sheep?
 
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
#10
The Camino is a magical path laid in a very real environment, surrounded by people -- some of whom have very little education, awareness, or common sense. As more knuckle-heads view it as a cash-cow or a resource to be exploited, we may well see more dumping, advertising, price-gouging, and other abuses.
As for pilgrims: If walking past someone else's trash offends you, book your holiday elsewhere. This is not Disneyland, nor a pretty sight-seeing tour. Pilgrims take the bad with the good. Good pilgrims carry a bag with them, and carry out some trash. When enough good pilgrims pass an eyesore, it soon stops being an eyesore. It soon disappears.
We need fewer self-righteous people to say "tsk-tsk what a shame" and snap photos to post on the internet, and more to simply pick up a bottle or can or two and take it to the next waste container.
The solution is simple. You see a problem, be part of the solution.
 

Kate fowles

Meerkat kate
Camino(s) past & future
None yet
#11
Thanks for your comments. Growing up in South Africa with a strong sense of keeping nature clean and tidy I never dump my rubbish when I am hiking or camping but some people's comments about their experiences and references to over exploitation did make me nervous. I accept it's not Disneyland what a relief! I could think of nothing worse - yetch!!!!But it's an expensive trip for me. It must be worth the money.There has been bad press on the camino of late on the Internet and if it's over exploited, the Spanish are unwelcoming and it's dangerous (probably never as dangerous as hiking in Lesotho or South Africa at the moment and we are not afraid) it makes me doubt that spending all that money is worth it. We are just very average middle class people with kids in high school - this will be a trip of a life timefor us and I just want to be assured that I will not be making an expensive mistake that's all. There are other really big hikes that are equally attractive and I really am looking for something special. I lived in Africa - I am no rookie to mess, poverty and illegal dumping. But it's reasonable to want to spend my hard earned money wisely. I don't want to come home feeling it was a bad and very expensive mistake. As for the 'tisk tisk ' about people's mess - I am certainly not judging the Spanish and will not be going to embarrass them by making a fuss or irritating them by cleaning up what I think they have neglected to and I certainly will not deface their countryside with the detritus of my trip. I simply wish to know - is it an experience not to be missed?
 
Last edited:

Kate fowles

Meerkat kate
Camino(s) past & future
None yet
#12
And I am not doing Camino for social reasons. My husband and I are going with a very close friend who we always hike with. We have all lost parents lately and we are doing it as a means of stress relief, seeing each other (as he lives in South Africa still and we haven't seen him in years) - we are hoping it's a special, meaningful experience as well as a physically demanding adventure. We are not going to sponge off Spain and behave irreverently.
 

Bogong

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
First, March 2014
#13
Dear Kate,

It seems natural for many of us facing a new and relatively unknown experience in a different environment to be a bit alarmist about it. It doesn't help when there are some who seem prepared to knock it because it doesn't match some preconceived notion of what it should have matched up to.

First, I walked in winter. There were very few pilgrims as evidenced by my Avatar photo. The ones I did cross tracks with, from all over the world, were wonderful people. Next there was practically no rubbish, aside from the occasional dumped empty plastic water bottle, and bits of the usual stuff you might find in the industrial outskirts of any city, in this case Leon comes to mind. Virually no pooh at all except for one case very early on, where someone had dumped one right in the middle of the path. Mind you, it was wet (snow, sleet, hail, rain, wind) for most of the time except for a glorious week or so through the wonderful Meseta.

And the local people were almost universally wonderful, obliging, helpful. Kind and with a sense of humour.

I believe that trying to communicate is a big plus, and learning a bit of Spanish beforehand is the clue to this. We are in their country, and it shows respect and genuine interest. If you speak Afrikaans it will help as some of the constructions are similar ("Ek praat mar net n bietjie Afrikaans" as I lived there from 4 to 11, and please forgive the spelling). It should be Rule number one for anyone doing the Camino, and even a little bit helps.

Forget all the negatives and concentrate on the positives. It's a wonderful experience in a gorgeous country with lots of history, and can be looked forward to with no misgivings. I envy those who can do this.

De Colores

Bogong
 

Smallest_Sparrow

Life is rarely what you expect or believe it to be
Camino(s) past & future
2012: most of some, all of a few, a bit of others
#14
Kate I want to second Bogong, I've walked on all or part of several of the routes, and the only time I noticed trash (pilgrim related or otherwise) was nearing SdC, and the worst of it in Finisterre. But even then, it was not like walking through a garbage dump. Maybe this is because of the great work of the Camino ditch pigs (yay pigs!!!). Even then, the things I consider trash (like all the shoes, notes, pictures, baubles, etc left at the road markers in the last 100 or so km, or the shoes/underwear/etc at finisterre) some misguided fools thought looked symbolic. It obviously didn't bother them, and probably doesn't bother others less irritable than I. Used TP, however, is just rude :eek: but luckily is complained about more than I actually encountered it (perhaps because it was too inclement for most to attempt when and where I walked:rolleyes:)

I (and probably anyone on this forum, obviously) wouldn't trade the experience for anything.
Buen Camino
 

Jakke

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugues (2016)
Via de la Plata / Sanabrés (2017)
Barcelona - Fisterra (2018)
#15
The Camino is a magical path laid in a very real environment, surrounded by people -- some of whom have very little education, awareness, or common sense. As more knuckle-heads view it as a cash-cow or a resource to be exploited, we may well see more dumping, advertising, price-gouging, and other abuses.
As for pilgrims: If walking past someone else's trash offends you, book your holiday elsewhere. This is not Disneyland, nor a pretty sight-seeing tour. Pilgrims take the bad with the good. Good pilgrims carry a bag with them, and carry out some trash. When enough good pilgrims pass an eyesore, it soon stops being an eyesore. It soon disappears.
We need fewer self-righteous people to say "tsk-tsk what a shame" and snap photos to post on the internet, and more to simply pick up a bottle or can or two and take it to the next waste container.
The solution is simple. You see a problem, be part of the solution.
Hi! We're getting off-topic. The path I mentioned cannot be empted by idealistic individuals, unless you can imagine pilgrims carrying front parts of cars. So I wonder if there is anything we can do as an organization. I understand Kate's concern and fortunately dumping on that scale is not normal here.
 

Smallest_Sparrow

Life is rarely what you expect or believe it to be
Camino(s) past & future
2012: most of some, all of a few, a bit of others
#16
PS, Kate, take what you read here (the forum as a whole, I do not discount the OP's report) with a grain of salt. If you believed everything here, the road to Santiago is uphill the entire way, with snowstorms, hail, scorpions, and pirates the entire way. Ogres guard the entrances of each pueblo, and only the wisest and bravest pass.
 

Smallest_Sparrow

Life is rarely what you expect or believe it to be
Camino(s) past & future
2012: most of some, all of a few, a bit of others
#17
Jaake, that is a good question; perhaps those who walk/walked/love the CP could talk to Rebekah about how she organized her cleaning crews along the CF. We assume authorities know of this dump site...but maybe they don't. Perhaps an email or letter could be sent to let authorities know (complete with pictures if you have them). If I see illegal dumping (in Baltimore), or water wasting or fuel spilling (california) I report it. In fact, just today I was talking to someone in code enforcement and he was glad I understood there are only so many of them (they can't be everywhere).
That wont change that your walk was marred, but your good questions can help create a better Camino--thanks for that.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
#19
I have been trash picking along the Aragonese from the beginning at Somport Pass and I shall continue to do so, but I have pretty much given up along the highways, which the route frequently follows. Yesterday I estimated one piece of trash every meter in a highway pull off and no way can I carry that amount of litter - mostly beverage bottles and empty cigaret packets - with me. If there were waste bins at such places it would be a little easier to manage for everyone. But I try to clear the off road trails as I go. There are a lot of tissues and less other litter on trails which seem to be mostly frequented by pilgrims.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2013 Camino Frances SJPP / 2014 Camino Portugues / 2015 Camino Ingles / 2015 Hospitalero Training
2016 (fall) Camino Sanabre / Hospitalero?
#20
The Camino is a magical path laid in a very real environment, surrounded by people -- some of whom have very little education, awareness, or common sense. As more knuckle-heads view it as a cash-cow or a resource to be exploited, we may well see more dumping, advertising, price-gouging, and other abuses.
As for pilgrims: If walking past someone else's trash offends you, book your holiday elsewhere. This is not Disneyland, nor a pretty sight-seeing tour. Pilgrims take the bad with the good. Good pilgrims carry a bag with them, and carry out some trash. When enough good pilgrims pass an eyesore, it soon stops being an eyesore. It soon disappears.
We need fewer self-righteous people to say "tsk-tsk what a shame" and snap photos to post on the internet, and more to simply pick up a bottle or can or two and take it to the next waste container.
The solution is simple. You see a problem, be part of the solution.
Picking up after the World would be a great tribute to Denise Thiem, our lost Sister Pelegrina
 
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy (2010; 2016), Norte, Primitivo, Muxia/Fisterra (2010), Mozarabe, Via de la Plata, Sanabres (2011), Arles, Aragones, Frances (2015)
#23
Off-the-original-topic, but answering @Kate fowles
Is it worth doing the Camino ?
Yes, I believe it is!
That said, I came across several of your posts and I got the feeling you're looking for a "pure" trek (as gorgeous landscapes, untouched nature, wild adventure, hiking challenge and other trek-clichés that cross my mind :rolleyes:) rather than experiencing the Way's spirit? Also that you consider this journey because it's popular at the time (as everyone talks a lot about it and like it) rather than being directly attracted by the Way?
==> ? Suppositions: maybe I got it all wrong!
The Camino is worth it, there are amazing landscapes everywhere and as a long-range travel, it is a bit of a challenge. And Spain is not that dirty (just more than countries, and less than others: a matter of perspective...). What makes it so special though are not the views, the people, the challenge or the historical/cultural places, but its spirituality (in a very wide definition of the word) and the fact this spirit causes people's inner life to be transformed and to thrive. (imo)
That said (again), and according to the personal preferences you expressed in your posts, I'd invite you to look up the C del Norte, the C Primitivo and the C Aragones. They are all more quiet than the C Frances, all passing through mountains and beautiful nature. If you have time or don't mind not getting to Santiago, I'd also advise the French routes (Le Puy, Arles, Piemont). They're more quiet than most of the Spanish secondary routes, all more natural (as more paths in true nature than on the side of the road), and also have beautiful landscapes and mountains. .......Overall, there are a lot of options! You could even start on one Camino and switch to another...
The very best advice I can think of is to look things up a bit and trust you intuition/heart/stir a lot. Whatever the choice, on a Camino or elsewhere, it won't be a waste. I believe traveling is always a rich experience! :)
Buen Camino!


 
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy (2010; 2016), Norte, Primitivo, Muxia/Fisterra (2010), Mozarabe, Via de la Plata, Sanabres (2011), Arles, Aragones, Frances (2015)
#24
On-topic-this-time
The action I talked about, "A paso limpio" to clean up the Camino, has been initiated by both the pilgrim's associations of Japan and Astorga: a look HERE! Or when Far-East Asia helps to keep Far-West Europe clean... Thank you, international Camino!
Also, on Le Puy route, the municipality of Le Puy built humanure toilets (composting toilets) along a stretch of the Way... Maybe sending word to the various municipalities concerned by the dumping sites?
Clean Camino! ;)


 

Jakke

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugues (2016)
Via de la Plata / Sanabrés (2017)
Barcelona - Fisterra (2018)
#25
I have been trash picking along the Aragonese from the beginning at Somport Pass and I shall continue to do so, but I have pretty much given up along the highways, which the route frequently follows. Yesterday I estimated one piece of trash every meter in a highway pull off and no way can I carry that amount of litter - mostly beverage bottles and empty cigaret packets - with me. If there were waste bins at such places it would be a little easier to manage for everyone. But I try to clear the off road trails as I go. There are a lot of tissues and less other litter on trails which seem to be mostly frequented by pilgrims.
Well done! There are situations where pilgrims' goodwill is not going to be enough. Then what...
 
#26
Thanks for your comments. Growing up in South Africa with a strong sense of keeping nature clean and tidy I never dump my rubbish when I am hiking or camping but some people's comments about their experiences and references to over exploitation did make me nervous. I accept it's not Disneyland what a relief! I could think of nothing worse - yetch!!!!But it's an expensive trip for me. It must be worth the money.There has been bad press on the camino of late on the Internet and if it's over exploited, the Spanish are unwelcoming and it's dangerous (probably never as dangerous as hiking in Lesotho or South Africa at the moment and we are not afraid) it makes me doubt that spending all that money is worth it. We are just very average middle class people with kids in high school - this will be a trip of a life timefor us and I just want to be assured that I will not be making an expensive mistake that's all. There are other really big hikes that are equally attractive and I really am looking for something special. I lived in Africa - I am no rookie to mess, poverty and illegal dumping. But it's reasonable to want to spend my hard earned money wisely. I don't want to come home feeling it was a bad and very expensive mistake. As for the 'tisk tisk ' about people's mess - I am certainly not judging the Spanish and will not be going to embarrass them by making a fuss or irritating them by cleaning up what I think they have neglected to and I certainly will not deface their countryside with the detritus of my trip. I simply wish to know - is it an experience not to be missed?
The experience is what you make it. It is not a hike to be compared to other wilderness walks. If you are expecting only beautiful countryside you will indeed be disappointed. You will be walking through picturesque villages with Roman bridges, industrial outskirts of cities, kilometers and kilometers of fields, on dirt paths, on asphalt secondary roads. Days filled with nothingness, at times ugly and boring but this is, in my opinion, part of the experience.

I have walked at least 13 times, on many occasions alone, and I can't think of any place or country where this is possible as a woman.

You will find so many opinions, including mine. I suggest that you talk to @sillydoll from S. Africa. She is a Camino veteran and Hospitalero trainer and will give it to you straight.

You can only be disappointed if you have specific expectations.

Much success in your decision - making process.

Cheers
LT
 

Kate fowles

Meerkat kate
Camino(s) past & future
None yet
#28
Thanks everyone for your feedback. It's much appreciated and yes I am learning Spanish - can already speak French and I am not entirely put off pretty villages or ancient Roman bridges - definitely part if the attraction to this walk. The French route is rated as a must do by National geographic so I think that's where I will start and if it's good I will be back for more @Bogong baie Dankie maat
 

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