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Are we losing our "Way"?

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TMcA

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pamplona to Santiago (2013)
Le Puy to Pamplona in segments (2013 - 2016)
Pamplona to León
In the link posted below an experienced hospitalero bemoans the changes he (or maybe she) has seen in the behavior of many who walk the various Camino routes. I hesitate to summarize the feelings and opinions in this letter, but feel it is worth a read. In Spanish, but Google will translate it.

 

Evvie

Member
Camino(s) past & future
September 2019
In the link posted below an experienced hospitalero bemoans the changes he (or maybe she) has seen in the behavior of many who walk the various Camino routes. I hesitate to summarize the feelings and opinions in this letter, but feel it is worth a read. In Spanish, but Google will translate it.

Reading posts and comments here and on other Camino websites, I understand the hospitalero's feelings. I see complaints about the lack of/not enough hot water, that the food is less than or not what was expected, the door closes too early/late, and the lack/not enough of other facilities and comforts. Similarly, pilgrims are not respecting the Way. Trash, toilet paper, and sometimes human waste are left on or near the paths. Rudeness and disrespect of others is on the rise. Bottom line is that it's up to us, the pilgrims, to change the situation. In my mind the changes are simple: be polite and kind, accept the rules of the albergue without comment, and understand what to expect before you stay there. Learn a few phrases of the local language -- the hospitalero will appreciate your efforts. Don't expect that the hospitalero speaks your language. As for the Way, pick up after yourself, the same as you would do at home!! Would you poop next to the sofa and leave it there? What about your toilet paper? Just throw it on the ground? C'mon. Greet others, don't be upset that they're going too slow/fast. Make less noise. Don't get angry that there are groups on the Camino, that's the way they chose to travel. Only we can "take back" the Way. Things aren't going to change unless people change, and don't expect everyone to do so. Just my thoughts.
 
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Ianinam

Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2013 / CP 2018
Hospitalera at Roncesvalles:
2015/2016/2017/2018/2019
I fully agree with this open letter of an anonymus hospitalero. In the short period of five years that I worked as a hospitalero at Roncesvalles I have noticed that a lot of 'pilgrims' behave totally different nowadays.
When I started to do this work, most pilgrims were thankful for our help, for the beds, for the showers, for the cleanliness of the albergue.

This makes our voluntary work worthwile. That's why we travel every year again to Roncesvalles, to be able to help people who have had a very long and tiring walk, some days in cold weather and rain, on other days in heat, and most of them arrive in the albergue exhausted. We try to make them feel as comfortable as possible, every day again with hundreds and hundreds of exhausted people.

But nowadays more and more people (not all!) become very demanding: they demand a lower bed, even if they are young and healthy, they ask for hairdryers, they come with huge trolleys which block the corridors between the beds and therefore are dangerous in case of a fire, they put their backpacks on the bed and they are angry when we ask them to put their backpack in the locker (as we try to keep bedbugs away!), they complain when their laundry is not yet ready when they go to dinner, they refuse to put their dirty walking shoes where they should place them.

I really love to be a hospitalero, and I enjoy the spirit, the stories, being able to help people, put a hand on a shoulder, bring someone a glass of water, in short: to be there for the pilgrims. But more and more so-called 'pilgrims' demand the utmost of our patience and helpfullness, and these people make our work much less meaningful.
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
Have we lost our Way?
Probably.
But maybe we were partly guilty in losing it?

I think unfortunately the Camino routes are fast becoming just a 'tourist' destination rather than a pilgrimage.
Inevitable perhaps through movies and social media.

But it is what it is........and still a joy to walk.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2014)
Frances (2017)
The first time my daughter and I did the Camino together in 2014 we saw a sign in an albergue that said “A tourist demands, a pilgrim is grateful”. For the rest of that pilgrimage and on the two times we have returned we take that sentiment along with us. We have a tradition now where every day we ask each other, and anyone we are dining with, “What are you grateful for today?”
 

good_old_shoes

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('15)
Via Coloniensis ('16)
Trier-Nancy + Le Puy-Fisterra ('17)
Aragonés ('18)
Maybe together with the credential and the list of albergues, a leaflet could be given to every pilgrim describing the concept of an albergue and the basic rules. Many people walking the Camino have never slept in an albergue or even a dormitory in general and no idea how to behave or what to expect (and some, sadly, no common sense also). Just a few words about what they can expect (and what not) in the usual albergue might be helpful. Then add a few sentences about litter / going to the toilet outdoors / bedbugs and you put a lot of helpful information out there already.

Also, placing a sign on the door of the albergue, clearly indicating the existing facilities, would help to keep out people with certain demands.

For example, if there‘s a bign sign „no WIFI, no hot showers“ on the door, I‘m sure most demanding tourists will walk past to another place...
 
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VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
if there‘s a bign sign „no WIFI, no hot showers“ on the door, I‘m sure most of the tourists will walk past to another place..
That"s exactly what happened when I was staying at San Anton and San Nicholas last month. The chattering hoardes went right past.

On one hand that felt sad, but it meant the atmosphrere was one of simplicity, gratitude, and connectedness - unsullied by the 'ugly' variety of tourists and their entitled self-centeredness.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2014; 2019)
Camino Primitivo (2016)
Camino del Norte (2016-2018)
San Salvador (2018)
Have we lost our Way?
Probably.
But maybe we were partly guilty in losing it?

I think unfortunately the Camino routes are fast becoming just a 'tourist' destination rather than a pilgrimage.
Inevitable perhaps through movies and social media.

But it is what it is........and still a joy to walk.
This is certainly true, and the main distinction between tourist and pilgrim is in how we treat people we encounter, most importantly the hospitaleros. In Larrasoaña I observed a Greek guy berating a hospitalero, insisting, 'You are in the tourist industry!', and demanding that he be 'more polite'. The hospitalero looked exhausted. Now to be fair the hospitalero was making a mistake with his English, using the imperative 'Go here!' when he meant to say 'Come this way', which of course sounded rude. But personally I think AGM (Angry Greek Man) should have realised that it wan't intentional, just a mistranslation. Watching this little episode did, perhaps, help me to exercise patience as a virtue throughout the journey. We live we learn. :)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2014; 2019)
Camino Primitivo (2016)
Camino del Norte (2016-2018)
San Salvador (2018)
Maybe together with the credential and the list of albergues, a leaflet could be given to every pilgrim describing the concept of an albergue and the basic rules. Many people walking the Camino have never slept in an albergue or even a dormitory in general and no idea how to behave or what to expect (and some, sadly, no common sense also). Just a few words about what they can expect (and what not) in the usual albergue might be helpful. Then add a few sentences about litter / going to the toilet outdoors / bedbugs and you put a lot of helpful information out there already.

Also, placing a sign on the door of the albergue, clearly indicating the existing facilities, would help to keep out people with certain demands.

For example, if there‘s a bign sign „no WIFI, no hot showers“ on the door, I‘m sure most demanding tourists will walk past to another place...
We received such a document when collecting the credencial for Finisterre and Muxia in SdC. But it's sad to think albergues may require notices like the ones you see for public service in UK, to remind people that the staff are volunteering and that verbal or physical intimidation is unacceptable.
 

good_old_shoes

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('15)
Via Coloniensis ('16)
Trier-Nancy + Le Puy-Fisterra ('17)
Aragonés ('18)
Most people don‘t behave a certain way out of bad intentions, but simply because they‘re uninformed and/or lacking basic life skills. Of course, the ignorant won‘t change their behaviour one bit just because they read some rules on a leaflet, but many others will. We all make mistakes all the time, and the more information you have the easier it is to avoid at least some of them.

There are many "Camino rules" which for experienced pilgrims are self-evident, and we forget that for others they are not.

For example the "never put your backpack on the bed" rule. Of course, because of dirt and bedbugs! But many people don‘t realise the bedsheets won‘t be changed/cleaned after every pilgrim, and they never ever even heard of bedbugs, so how should they know?

Whining, blaming and judging certainly won‘t help. Putting out information and educating people won‘t stop the hordes from coming, but it might give the tourists as well as the first-time-pilgrims an idea about which kind of behaviour is appropriate on the Camino and which isn‘t. What they do with that knowledge of course is another story and everyone's own choice.

Apart from that, maybe look at yourself also and practice some tolerance. Don't feed into the drama, that will only help to spoil the mood further. The only thing worse than an annoying, demanding egomanic person in your albergue is others getting angry and annoyed about that, starting a downward spiral that leads to a bad atmosphere for everyone. Be positive, share a bottle of wine and a smile and hope that your attitude might be a good example for others.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Don't feed into the drama, that will only help to spoil the mood further. The only thing worse than an annoying, demanding egomanic person in your albergue is others getting angry and annoyed about that, starting a downward spiral that leads to a bad atmosphere for everyone. Be positive, share a bottle of wine and a smile and hope that your attitude might be a good example for others.
Just...yes.
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF2012,Le Puy/CF 2015 Portugues 2017 Norte 2018, CF 2019
I wrote about this in another post and was supported by many and blasted by others. When I walked the Norte last year I heard the term for the first time "Touragrino" or something like that. But you get the idea. I do believe that there are very large numbers of people who have no idea what it means to walk and their responsibility when they walk. There are large numbers who complain and whine constantly. I experienced this the last time I walked the CF in 2014 and could see it was just going to get worse. I walked the CP two years ago and saw very little of this and last year on the Norte virtually none of these complaints. I am not going to get into my deep personal feelings about Pilgrimage and Touragrinos and the right that "everyone walks their own Camino" and forgive and accept everyone no matter how rude, obnoxious or selfish they are. It is boorish and tiresome to me to hear the political correctness of that arguement. In my United States, and I am sure in other countries, every kid gets a trophy because they are all so great and special. With the wealth of many people a feeling a privilege permeates their being. It is no wonder we have this problem.
I will be walking the Camino Frances again this year but in November. The first time I walked the sharing and love I felt for my fellow Pilgrims was a feeling I will never forget. Yes there were complaints about blisters and heat or cold but there was respect for everyone and a giving of spirit that I had never experienced before. This is why I am now searching out quieter camino. Next stop after CF will be the VDLP. It isn't tough to spot the touragrinos and I think it is every Pilgrim's responsibility to speak out when someone is rude, when someone puts a backpack on a bed, or whines like a 5 year old because the water wasn't hot enough or the bed is not like they had at the Parador. A nice gentle reminder of what pilgrimage and being thankful for the privilege of being on the Camino. Did I expose too much hahaha!
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
But many people don‘t realise the bedsheets won‘t be changed/cleaned after every pilgrim
Bed sheets are rare in albergues. A few years back, the municipal albergues in Galicia began providing thin disposable bed sheets as an excuse to move from donativo to a 5E charge. Some other albergues have adopted the practice. The sheets may protect the mattress from pack dirt, but they do nothing for bed bugs and germs. Ten years ago the practice was to share the space under the bunk, half to the top bunk, half to the bottom bunk. Then pilgrims began to understand that the floor may be the worst place to store a pack overnight. Lockers have appeared in a few places, but the best practice is probably to hang the pack from a bunk corner post if it can be done.

"Rules" and good ideas change over time. Being irritated because some things have changed is futile. Even "good manners" are not constant, but the basics probably should not change. The saw about tourists' demanding is at least two decades old, so it is not a result of new pilgrims expecting more.

Not everyone is cut out to be a hospitalero. If you expect appreciation, stay out of the business.:) Some donativo albergues constantly kvetch about pilgrims who leave nothing. The solution, having a price (like Galicia), is rejected because it makes the refuge out of line with some fifty-year-old customs.

The happiest pilgrims are those without expectations and a high tolerance for others having a different way to do the walk. High strung and high maintenance pilgrims generally are, well, high strung and high maintenance, and a bit of a drag (checkout '60's slang).:(
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF2012,Le Puy/CF 2015 Portugues 2017 Norte 2018, CF 2019
Most people don‘t behave a certain way out of bad intentions, but simply because they‘re uninformed and/or lacking basic life skills. Of course, the ignorant won‘t change their behaviour one bit just because they read some rules on a leaflet, but many others will. We all make mistakes all the time, and the more information you have the easier it is to avoid at least some of them.

There are many "Camino rules" which for experienced pilgrims are self-evident, and we forget that for others they are not.

For example the "never put your backpack on the bed" rule. Of course, because of dirt and bedbugs! But many people don‘t realise the bedsheets won‘t be changed/cleaned after every pilgrim, and they never ever even heard of bedbugs, so how should they know?

Whining, blaming and judging certainly won‘t help. Putting out information and educating people won‘t stop the hordes from coming, but it might give the tourists as well as the first-time-pilgrims an idea about which kind of behaviour is appropriate on the Camino and which isn‘t. What they do with that knowledge of course is another story and everyone's own choice.

Apart from that, maybe look at yourself also and practice some tolerance. Don't feed into the drama, that will only help to spoil the mood further. The only thing worse than an annoying, demanding egomanic person in your albergue is others getting angry and annoyed about that, starting a downward spiral that leads to a bad atmosphere for everyone. Be positive, share a bottle of wine and a smile and hope that your attitude might be a good example for others.
I agree with some of what you said. As I wrote below your comment that we should point out to new Pilgrims and the tourists the proper etiquette of an albergue. But there is nothing worse than an egotistical douche who cares little for anyone or anything except his own comfort. Sorry but I respectfully disagree. In my experience many who see your willingness to accept their behavior is a sign of weakness to them and they will act even worse as days go by. Do you think a smile and a hug will stop someone who is verbally or emotionally abusing those around them? Maybe here or there but I doubt it.
 

malingerer

Active Member
Most people don‘t behave a certain way out of bad intentions, but simply because they‘re uninformed and/or lacking basic life skills. Of course, the ignorant won‘t change their behaviour one bit just because they read some rules on a leaflet, but many others will. We all make mistakes all the time, and the more information you have the easier it is to avoid at least some of them.

There are many "Camino rules" which for experienced pilgrims are self-evident, and we forget that for others they are not.

For example the "never put your backpack on the bed" rule. Of course, because of dirt and bedbugs! But many people don‘t realise the bedsheets won‘t be changed/cleaned after every pilgrim, and they never ever even heard of bedbugs, so how should they know?

Whining, blaming and judging certainly won‘t help. Putting out information and educating people won‘t stop the hordes from coming, but it might give the tourists as well as the first-time-pilgrims an idea about which kind of behaviour is appropriate on the Camino and which isn‘t. What they do with that knowledge of course is another story and everyone's own choice.

Apart from that, maybe look at yourself also and practice some tolerance. Don't feed into the drama, that will only help to spoil the mood further. The only thing worse than an annoying, demanding egomanic person in your albergue is others getting angry and annoyed about that, starting a downward spiral that leads to a bad atmosphere for everyone. Be positive, share a bottle of wine and a smile and hope that your attitude might be a good example for others.
agree with most of this but sharing my wine? That's a step too far! would make the buggers think tis Gift Week! :)

Yours aye

The Malingerer.
 

Telboyo

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
I intend to leave the UK the day Before Brexit and walkMarch -April 2019 Camino Frances
Can I get some whine with my dinner?;)
"Can I get?" No No No. The correct phrase at anytime is " I would like .... please" or at a pinch " Could You get the item for me please"
Can I get implies that the enquirer is going to be doing the "getting" , in the majority of cases this is not so, don't say it on that fashion.
 

Telboyo

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
I intend to leave the UK the day Before Brexit and walkMarch -April 2019 Camino Frances
Bed sheets are rare in albergues. A few years back, the municipal albergues in Galicia began providing thin disposable bed sheets as an excuse to move from donativo to a 5E charge. Some other albergues have adopted the practice. The sheets may protect the mattress from pack dirt, but they do nothing for bed bugs and germs. Ten years ago the practice was to share the space under the bunk, half to the top bunk, half to the bottom bunk. Then pilgrims began to understand that the floor may be the worst place to store a pack overnight. Lockers have appeared in a few places, but the best practice is probably to hang the pack from a bunk corner post if it can be done.

"Rules" and good ideas change over time. Being irritated because some things have changed is futile. Even "good manners" are not constant, but the basics probably should not change. The saw about tourists' demanding is at least two decades old, so it is not a result of new pilgrims expecting more.

Not everyone is cut out to be a hospitalero. If you expect appreciation, stay out of the business.:) Some donativo albergues constantly kvetch about pilgrims who leave nothing. The solution, having a price (like Galicia), is rejected because it makes the refuge out of line with some fifty-year-old customs.

The happiest pilgrims are those without expectations and a high tolerance for others having a different way to do the walk. High strung and high maintenance pilgrims generally are, well, high strung and high maintenance, and a bit of a drag (checkout '60's slang).:(
Why is the floor a bad place to store a pack?
 

good_old_shoes

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('15)
Via Coloniensis ('16)
Trier-Nancy + Le Puy-Fisterra ('17)
Aragonés ('18)
@lt56ny, the truly ignorant people won't change anyway. Pointing out their bad behaviour and getting angry about it won't change it just the same as ignoring it. But, confronting such an ignorant person will cause even more drama (or even violence) and your complaining and whining about the rude person will add to an unpleasant atmosphere for everyone.

With the smile and the wine I do not really expect the ignorant rude person to change (one can always hope though!), but it is mostly for the other people staying at the same place, so that everybody can still have a good experience! :)
 
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Pilger99

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
addicted since 1999 (Aragones, CF), lots of caminos in Spain and Portugal since then
Since about 20years most albergues offer hot shower. Depending on how they heat it, the term "warm" might be only correct for a few in the beginning and very late in the evening than the heater could finish the job again. But that's physics most people can learn, even while complaining about it.
No Wifi? You're so nasty! ;)
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
I have come across many posts on this forum which express gratitude that a hospitalero gave them a friendly greeting, a glass of water, even some fruit, when they first arrived at an albergue. Other posts judge pilgrims who are less than gracious. I often, by nature, feel irritated, but have forced myself, by and large, to keep my mouth shut and to yield to others, even when they are pushy or loud. This keeps me safe in public places, but also helps me to understand the feelings of those who share my temperament. Is the pushy person a natural bully, or is he or she simply exhausted and desperate to take care of their bodily needs, such as a glass of water, a shower, a rest, perhaps a snack to get their blood sugar up? I don't, and can't, know. But I shall do my best, during my time of service at the 90 bed albergue in Najera in September, to empathize with the exhausted and to listen to everyone, even if demands seem unreasonable. We have had one or two pilgrims on this forum with major health issues who have been refused a lower bunk when they requested it. I hope that I could respond to such a request with an open desire to help that would encourage them to explain their need, and to listen to my explanation that we try to respond to the special needs of the ill or elderly. I don't say that I won't get irritated at the demanding when I am weary. Because I do get irritated sometimes, I can better understand them.
 

FourSeasons

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF Sept/Oct 2013
CF April/May 2016
del Norte (July/August 2019)
Yes! The "Way" is changing especially the Frances and it seems to have changed overnight. Due to social media and (please don't flog me) the phrase "It's your Camino".

Forgive me, I've never really liked that phrase. Even though yes, we make our own choices as far as what backpack to use, what shoes will work, alburgue or pension, pack transfer or not etc... But, once boots are on the ground it becomes more then that. It is The Camino de Santiago de Compestela.
It is "The Way of St James". Not the way of Angela or the way of Kathy or the way of Tim or Scott etc......

It is NOT a check mark off a bucket list or a Spring Break party or a Facebook page full of "Look at Me" photos. It is a "Pilgrimage", but because of current technology and social media the heart of the Camino isn't being revealed or represented, it is seen as just that, by most people, a check mark and it shows in the current condition of The Way. This makes me cry. 😢

I'm not saying people shouldn't go on the Camino because I know how it can change a person in a positive way so please don't chastise me for my thoughts. It would be so wonderful if everyone knew what St James did and what he continues to do and what the "heart" of the Camino is.

God Bless and may the Heart of Camino be revealed to all who walk The Way.

Buen Camino
😎👣
 
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falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
Can I get implies that the enquirer is going to be doing the "getting" , in the majority of cases this is not so, don't say it on that fashion.
I usually bring my own whine to dinner. Long walks and fatigue get the blame.

"May and might are known as modal auxiliary verbs. According to the Oxford Guide to English Grammar, 'with modal verbs, we express ideas such as actions being possible or necessary' (p. 78) and 'the modal verbs are will, would, shall, should, can, could, may, might, must, need, ought to, and dare' (p. 113). In most cases, modal auxiliary verbs do not have tenses, and The Cambridge Guide to English Usage asserts that 'May I have a cup of tea?' and 'Might I have a cup of tea?' are grammatically the same, with the second '[seeming] overanxious to let the other party determine your right to the simplest of drinks' (p. 340).

In short: 'Can I ...' & 'Could I ...' are part of idiomatic English, but I wouldn't recommend them. The difference between 'May I ...' & 'Might I ...' is not grammatical but stylistic. All things considered, it is probably better to use 'May I ...' rather than any of the other alternatives as it is definitely correct and does not show overanxiousness."

Active voice over passive voice, so "get me some whine with my dinner" and soften it with a please to be polite??? ;);):p

Clearly I plagiarise and provide no footnotes to obviate my sin. Is there still an English confessional in the Cathedral? Will a grammarian attend?
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)

MarkyD

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 31/08/2018 - 20/10/2018
In the link posted below an experienced hospitalero bemoans the changes he (or maybe she) has seen in the behavior of many who walk the various Camino routes. I hesitate to summarize the feelings and opinions in this letter, but feel it is worth a read. In Spanish, but Google will translate it.

It's sad to read this, but perhaps it's an inevitable consequence of the commercialisation of the Camino routes. I haven't worked as a hospitalero, so I'm in no position to comment on his/her views. However, I can empathise with their point of view. Although, the Camino is an open door to anyone who wants to travel along these ancient routes. The different types of pilgrim are a reflection of society to some degree. So, we shouldn't be too surprised to see the things mentioned in this article.
I would say, from my limited experience of having completed one camino in 2018, that there are many more wonderful people than there are unpleasant ones to be found on the Camino. Even the good natured folk can have a bad day and say or do something thoughtless which might offend or hurt someone else's feelings.
Obviously, this hospitalero/a has seen enough at the sharp end to be moved to publish their concerns. I guess I might have to put myself forward for a stint as a hospitalero to see it from the other's perspective. Might be a good idea to wait until after 2021 though!
 

simply B

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
somewhere between "not enough" and "way too many"
FWIW...

On all prior Caminos, I set to planning my return trip once settled on my return flight at Madrid Barajas.

My last return from Spain was in mid-November 2017. It was not until just a few weeks ago that I even gave a glancing thought to a return. The return, if it happens, will not include the Francés.

Here's an excerpt from a private blog I kept up at the request from my friends and family. The posting was made my last evening in SdC.

“….Conversations with those who were first-timers or had walked previously in the last two years were generally enthusiastic. The attitude of those who had first experienced the Camino (and we limit our comments to the “Route Francés”) before that time ranged from unsatisfied to profoundly negative.

So, the positive aspect is that the magic remains for newcomers. For how long, we cannot suppose. But, it is likely long lasting, as the ‘adventure’ aspect of the ‘first time’ should remain fresh. That is just human nature.
The negative school of opinion, which we share to a degree, is that multiple aspects have gone awry.

Superficially – there is agreement on two aspects. First, there is the ‘prettification’ or ‘upscaling’ of facilities to capitalize on the increase of the more gentrified folks making the walk. Next, there is a more boisterous element (including the gentry), looking for a ‘punch-out’ on their bucket list and nothing more. And, we fully agree that the latter have as much right to be here as us…the Camino is open to all.

A bit deeper – there is an old adage out here. “Tourists demand, pilgrims offer thanks.” We have never seen so much ‘demanding’ and it is discouraging. Judgment is not rendered here, just relating the observation. There are likely many in whom a ‘pilgrim’ seed is planted from the experience and we wish that for all. But, frankly, the rancorous and multiple occasions of this were a drain on the spirit. (It does not become us to think of people as ‘Glo-Sticks’. Yet, there we were, wanting to snap them, shake ’em hard, and wait for the light to come on.)

Even deeper – the spiritual aspect is diminished as one would expect from the para above. Despite almost double the number of pilgrims (we estimate) from exactly five years ago, the number of walkers at Pilgrim Masses were actually DOWN in comparison…a lot. Practically, this impedes the sense of cohesiveness between the cohort in time. (And we make no claim to piety. Deep down, we’re really shallow. Our point is toward the inability to deeply relate to one another. Being Catholic has nothing to do with it, as the Pilgrim Masses have always been very welcoming to all faiths and all have found sustenance in them.)

Much of this derives from the ‘dislocation by screen’. Overheard…”I don’t have time for Mass, I am a pilgrim! I have to update Fbook (or some other social media).”….

The big loss is that of the convivial ‘sock-and-underwear-wash’ of the not-so-distant past during which came out (in the struggle for a common language) the tales of despair, triumph, spontaneous gifts of joy and deep insight, along with the laughter and tears so common then but now quite rare.”

But maybe it is just me.

B
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances Sarria to Santiago March 18 , Camino Frances June 18 Camino Frances May 19
Having just returned after finishing the final 430 km , and feeling stiff and sore I might add. I am by no means an expert but I have been on the Camino Frances 3 times and love walking it. I believe that every pilgrim is different and walks a different Camino and I believe some on this site generalize too much on posts here .There is some fantastic advice but there is also a lot of false impressions given .I think that Spain is very lucky to have the Camino and parts of it would be deserted only for it . Like it or not every pilgrim is a tourist and their money is The lifeblood of the Camino , the first half or two thirds is by far the most welcoming and less tourist orientated . I found that the Municipal Albergues attracted the type of pilgrim that l identified with . They arrived tired washed themselves and their clothes and generally were quiet about the place and the lights out rules and noise rules were respected. The other Albergues €9 to €12 attracted a different pilgrim whose bags were sent ahead and I often wondered did they also arrive by taxi . They never seemed as if they had walked the 20 to 35 km that they said they walked and were usually energetic and loud and bedtimes never mattered to them .
I felt this year that the couriers were doing a lot more business . I must confess the nearer I got to Sarria the less I enjoyed it and will never again walk the final 115 km.
It must have been magical to walk the Camino 30 or 20 years ago but those days are gone and in it’s place is a different experience.
I apologize if I strayed a bit from the topic or if I hijacked this post .
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
Having just returned after finishing the final 430 km , and feeling stiff and sore I might add. I am by no means an expert but I have been on the Camino Frances 3 times and love walking it. I believe that every pilgrim is different and walks a different Camino and I believe some on this site generalize too much on posts here .There is some fantastic advice but there is also a lot of false impressions given .I think that Spain is very lucky to have the Camino and parts of it would be deserted only for it . Like it or not every pilgrim is a tourist and their money is The lifeblood of the Camino , the first half or two thirds is by far the most welcoming and less tourist orientated . I found that the Municipal Albergues attracted the type of pilgrim that l identified with . They arrived tired washed themselves and their clothes and generally were quiet about the place and the lights out rules and noise rules were respected. The other Albergues €9 to €12 attracted a different pilgrim whose bags were sent ahead and I often wondered did they also arrive by taxi . They never seemed as if they had walked the 20 to 35 km that they said they walked and were usually energetic and loud and bedtimes never mattered to them .
I felt this year that the couriers were doing a lot more business . I must confess the nearer I got to Sarria the less I enjoyed it and will never again walk the final 115 km.
It must have been magical to walk the Camino 30 or 20 years ago but those days are gone and in it’s place is a different experience.
I apologize if I strayed a bit from the topic or if I hijacked this post .
Most of other Caminos are still the same as the Frances was 20-30 years ago. I have walked few of them, maybe you should too especially Invierno if you don't want to walk last 100+km from Sarria.
Many more here for example (but of course not nearly all of them):

Buen Camino!
 

Dorpie

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago to Finisterre to Muxia 2013
Camino Frances May 2015, July 2017, October 2019
Firstly a huge thank-you to @Ianinam , I think the Hospitaleros at Roncesvalles do an incredible job of managing massive numbers of pilgrims who are exhausted after a very tough first day and also don't yet know the albergue ropes. You and your colleagues' patience and kindness might not always be appreciated in the moment but I'm sure there are many who look back with gratitude.

As a relatively new pilgrim and one who hasn't been on Camino for nearly two years now I am perhaps not in the best position to judge whether things are worse now than they were 10, 20 or 30 years ago but it's hard for me not to think that it's the quantity rather than the quality of people walking now (particularly the CF) that is the issue. The rat race that so many come to northern Spain to escape is now present on the camino. I refer not just to the bed race, though that is perhaps the biggest issue but also proximity on the trail, where once I'm sure singing with joy at the top of your voice might only have troubled the local wildlife you can now expect to add 100 resentful pilgrims whose peace has been shattered to that number.
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
I refer not just to the bed race, though that is perhaps the biggest issue
Life when your biggest worry is a bed? Bangladesh (for example) should be so lucky!!!

You cannot escape the "rat race" if you bring it with you as part of your attitude. One of the few things that is completely under the control of the individual is attitude. You cannot control Brexit, the timeliness of the train, or rainfall. Why not control the one thing you can control, your attitude?

"Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings. "
 

Marbe2

Active member
Camino(s) past & future
2015 SJPD to Burgos
2017 Leon to Santiago
Pamplona to Santiago Mar. 2018
Burgos - SCDC (Oct 18)
The world changes, we change, and so does the camino. Longing for what once was- is understandable....and we see this “wanting” to have things the way they were, in many circumstances of life.

But...what is the likelihood of the Camino returning to an earlier time? Really?!

Venting our frustration is healthy to a point. But listening to our own frustration should call us to action....not wallowing in the good old days ( Please, I do not intend to offend anyone so please read this gently). Therefore, my suggestion is to put your frustrations and lamentations into actions.

Why not go on the CF when there are less pilgrims....go to less traveled caminos...
Periodically, get a private room to decompress. Or, get involved by making the Camino “better” and volunteering to pick up Trash, or become a Hospitalero/a....Or, bring your Christian or Humanistc Values with you and gently try to deesculate a person/pilgrim who is making things difficult. Help him or her! Give him/her your lower bunk if you are fortunate to be healthy enough to do so. If you do not have time...what about donating to organizations that try to make the Camino better. Rebekah Scott, on this forum,does wonderful work trying to make the Camino better...donate!


Finally, if you are so fed up with other folks behavior along the way...take a vacation...whether for a day..by getting a private room, or maybe even taking an extra rest day, or skipping the Camino totally for a while and looking in other directions.

As a Christian, Jesus was crucified...you are making a camino.....are these new changing frustrations, perhaps not a new offering for your journey.?🙂🙂🙂
 
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Dorpie

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago to Finisterre to Muxia 2013
Camino Frances May 2015, July 2017, October 2019
Life when your biggest worry is a bed? Bangladesh (for example) should be so lucky!!!

You cannot escape the "rat race" if you bring it with you as part of your attitude. One of the few things that is completely under the control of the individual is attitude. You cannot control Brexit, the timeliness of the train, or rainfall. Why not control the one thing you can control, your attitude?

"Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings. "
With the best will in the world the vast majority of people who can afford to do a camino do not face life threatening pressures as Bangladesh emblemises, I'm talking about perceived, man made pressures.

Personally I don't feel many of those pressures, I'm a low ambition relative lay about who's generally content and would regard not finding a bed as an adventure rather than a disaster but for perceived or real reasons I think I'm probably in a minority.
 
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LesBrass

Likes Walking
Camino(s) past & future
yes...
So many people have expressed views from all sides so eloquently that I feel there's not a lot more to add... but (;)) I have been thinking that many years ago I had to read Pilgrims Progress as part of my English A level studies... and whilst it's been a few years I seem to remember that they weren't always 'ideal' pilgrims either. Maybe things aren't so different even in 2019?

One of the 'worst' experiences of poor behaviour I've had on camino was with an older chap (and a chap with extensive camino history) who shouted at everyone who entered the one large bedroom as he was trying to sleep... at 15:00 in the afternoon. Every time someone arrived after their days walk... no matter who... they were sshhhed and told to shut up in no uncertain terms... it caused such a terrible atmosphere and kind of made everyone quite sad (or angry in some cases).

It's odd the things that stick in our minds; but I always remember this afternoon. The thing is, if you had met the guy earlier in the day you would have been so interested in his tales of walking decades ago... but those that arrived at 15:00 only will remember him as the rude guy that was trying to sleep. (he is also the noisy guy who left at 6:00am)

My son said to me once we all see life through out own lense... I guess that's what we do? People are just people... pilgrim, camino, life... we're all just people.

I've walked the Cf a few times now and some of the others routes too and whilst I do prefer the quieter paths there is something wonderful about the CF and I will walk it again, even with the extra crowds... it's such a special walk.
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
@falcon269 - Oh, yeah!?

Well, take a gander at my spirit animal, will ya?;)
My spirit animal will race ya' to the fence for a beer...

59283


It is little known, but centuries ago the snails had
their own camino. They only traveled to Santiago from
about 1 km out, but it still took them several months.
The tale is told of a group of snails that was set
upon by a group of turtle bandits. The turtles beat
the snails and stole their equipment.

The snails moved as quickly as they could to report
the assault to the Guardia Civil. When the policeman
asked the snails for a description of the bandits,
they replied, "We really cannot say. It all happened
so fast."
 
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omar504

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016,2017,2018
Yes! The "Way" is changing especially the Frances and it seems to have changed overnight. Due to social media and (please don't flog me) the phrase "It's your Camino".

Forgive me, I've never really liked that phrase. Even though yes, we make our own choices as far as what backpack to use, what shoes will work, alburgue or pension, pack transfer or not etc... But, once boots are on the ground it becomes more then that. It is The Camino de Santiago de Compestela.
It is "The Way of St James". Not the way of Angela or the way of Kathy or the way of Tim or Scott etc......

It is NOT a check mark off a bucket list or a Spring Break party or a Facebook page full of "Look at Me" photos. It is a "Pilgrimage", but because of current technology and social media the heart of the Camino isn't being revealed or represented, it is seen as just that, by most people, a check mark and it shows in the current condition of The Way. This makes me cry. 😢

I'm not saying people shouldn't go on the Camino because I know how it can change a person in a positive way so please don't chastise me for my thoughts. It would be so wonderful if everyone knew what St James did and what he continues to do and what the "heart" of the Camino is.

God Bless and may the Heart of Camino be revealed to all who walk The Way.

Buen Camino
😎👣
Couldn't agree more..always thought it was a ridiculous cliche. Witness the bag rustlers,4.30am noisy buggers with their headlights...and alarm clocks for heavens sake!
 

MichaelB10398

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago de Compostela, Lourdes to SdC, SJPP to SdC
This is a difficult topic for many of us to talk about. One of our collectively recognized greatest sins is to judge the Camino of another. To even insinuate such brings up a hiss by all who read of it. However, I still think it is worth addressing occaissionaly in order to share thoughts with those on this Forum about what is expected of each participant. Of course, the problem is the mass of walkers that never see this enlightened forum to learn about the Camino, its history, and words of wisdom on the "how to" gained by those who have walked before them.
To quote an article I read this morning, "Citing a study on language usage, columnist David Brooks noted that since 1960, individualistic words such as “personalized,” “self,” “standout,” and “unique” have eclipsed communal words like “community,” “collective,” “share,” and “united.” In other studies he cites, researchers found that moral terms such as “virtue,” “decency,” “conscience,” “honesty,” “faith,” “ought,” “evil,” and “prudence” have declined in use over the years."
What has occurred is that we have become, culturally, vastly more individualistic. This necessarily breaks down our societal norms and mores; the parameters that cause us to socially govern ourselves in an expected manner. The "I" has almost completely demolished the "we".
Let me speak the unpardonable; yes, I regret in our haste to make the Camino welcoming that we have forgotten its meaning. Yes, I do believe in the concept of pilgrimage - it is not a walk or even a long walk. Yes, the Camino suffers from its own success.
However, I believe firmly that pilgrimage is a personal experience that is independent of the actions of others. While we that walk our pilgrimage, we may easily avoid the challenges and demands of those that have never even heard or understand what a pilgrimage is. These demanding individuals can easily wear out the charitable work of those that work so hard in the albergues. This puts a particularly acute demand on the each pilgrim - we must lengthen our stride to assist these dear souls that selflessly serve all that come into their albergues.
As the author of the letter stated, the Camino, to a large extent, would cease to exist in its current form almost immediately if they all stopped working and welcoming participants. This would be a very high price indeed, but what it would not do is return the Camino to what it was. It would evolve into a high-priced adventure for those that would be happy to shell big bucks to stay in the hotels all along the route. The poor pilgrim would go by the wayside, never to venture forth again.
 

alhartman

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2005 2007 Frances
2016 Leon to Santiago
Of course, like all other things, The Way changes.
But the hospitalero(a) remain as the real angels of my experience. Arre, Cezur Menor, Granon, San Juan de Ortega, Castrojeriz, Boadilla, Terradillos, Reliegos, Villar de Mazarife, Pieros, Ruitelan, Las Herrerias, Fonfria, Vilacha, and San Xulian come to mind as I page thru Gronze stages. Pretty much what they all have in common is that few are municipal or end-stages of major guides, and most have a communal meal. But, for me, the hospitalero/a has been the positive camino experience equal to, or even greater than my ‘camino family’-I hope that pilgrim bad behavior does not drive away the kindness of the hospitalero.
My first was in May 2005 and I encountered the same bed-race as 2016--And the same few selfish inconsiderate fellow pilgrims.
I talked an evening with a Dutch couple who ran a private in Castrojeriz, and they were looking to sell because The Way had changed so much over their 4 years: the rudeness of the summer pilgrims—drunken shouting all night, peeing in their doorway, etc. which they attributed it to the differing age demographic. My takeaway from that discussion was that the summer season was already much more of a mobile party and much less like the spiritual experience I was having. All of my future caminos were in the ‘shoulder’ seasons (April-Jun, Sept-Nov) or alternate routes.

And over that 14 years, technology and its unintended consequences have changed everything.
  • I remember lines at the sparse internet terminals in albergues and trying feed in euros before it crashed along with the bulk email I was trying to send. Never any wifi.
  • I navigated by following the yellow arrows. And remembering my shadow needed to be on my right.
  • There was no reservation system supported by smartphones; I just used the one sheet handout from the amis in SJPdP to find stopping places and distances.
  • There was no visible pack courier service.
  • And I have only 8 photographs because I carried no camera.

And then the increased publicity: I only had McLaine and Cohelo to set my expectations. Tim Moore in 2004, Kierkling in 2009, Hyosun in 2010, and ‘The Way” movie in 2010. Then Wordpress blogs, YouTube vlogs, and discussion forums. And the tour groups. Each of these brought new walkers with a different agenda. But all acting to raise the expectations of future pilgrims (The Way!! Really!! It’s a move not and experience!!)
In 2005 English speaking countries accounted for 6,900 of the 100,400 compostela (6%). In 2017, they accounted for 41,000 of the 293,000 compostela—14%! SJPdp leavers: 2005 a mere 9,800 with 600 from USA and 1000 Canadian, in 2017 about 57,000. With 8300 USA and 2100 Canadians.
But every successive camino has been a joyful experience—fellow pilgrims, hospitalero/a, the food, the walking, café con leche, and the solitary times. I have had to steadily change my expectations and sometimes work hard to avoid of my judgmental self. And as much as I would like to go back in time, so much is about expectations---and patience.
“Suffering or happiness is created through one's relationship to experience, not by experience itself. “

To the extent that hospitalero/a are forced into ‘you are part of the tourist industry’ (ie: cater to me), the experience will change even more. Luckily, there is a huge group of pilgrims who wish to give back so others can have a positive experience. So maybe the two drives will balance.

And I cannot imagine walking in Xacobeo 2021 holy year!! Not my thing even with my prior experience and ability to adapt. But I do love the Frances and pray the infirmities of old age are delayed enough for yet another long walk.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
My spirit animal will race ya' to the fence for a beer...

View attachment 59283


It is little known, but centuries ago the snails had
their own camino. They only traveled to Santiago from
about 1 km out, but it still took them several months.
The tale is told of a group of snails that was set
upon by a group of turtle bandits. The turtles beat
the snails and stole their equipment.

The snails moved as quickly as they could to report
the assault to the Guardia Civil. When the policeman
asked the snails for a description of the bandits,
they replied, "We really cannot say. It all happened
so fast."
I see that this snail is using the baggage carrier service. When I walked the Camino Frances I took a picture of a snail and shared it, but ours was carrying its possessions like we were: http://instagr.am/p/BIUjSJfgpH8/
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 to 2018
Maybe together with the credential and the list of albergues, a leaflet could be given to every pilgrim describing the concept of an albergue and the basic rules. Many people walking the Camino have never slept in an albergue or even a dormitory in general and no idea how to behave or what to expect (and some, sadly, no common sense also). Just a few words about what they can expect (and what not) in the usual albergue might be helpful. Then add a few sentences about litter / going to the toilet outdoors / bedbugs and you put a lot of helpful information out there already.

Also, placing a sign on the door of the albergue, clearly indicating the existing facilities, would help to keep out people with certain demands.

For example, if there‘s a bign sign „no WIFI, no hot showers“ on the door, I‘m sure most demanding tourists will walk past to another place...
I would go further and recommend that all future reprints of all versions of all credencials contain a standard set of rule for pilgrim behavior. It should be printed at least in Spanish and English.

While this seems a lot of common sense and good upbringing to most of us out there, it is (at least to my observation and research) surprisingly not being taught to the youngsters, either at home, or in schools. Everyone seems to believe they are entitled to being waited on.

Albergues are NOT hotels. The classic Camino admonition that " A tourist demands, a pilgrim is grateful" is more true than ever. We need to reinforce this concept.
 

Capt. Bob

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2015, 2017 and hopefully Sep 2019
Reading posts and comments here and on other Camino websites, I understand the hospitalero's feelings. I see complaints about the lack of/not enough hot water, that the food is less than or not what was expected, the door closes too early/late, and the lack/not enough of other facilities and comforts. Similarly, pilgrims are not respecting the Way. Trash, toilet paper, and sometimes human waste are left on or near the paths. Rudeness and disrespect of others is on the rise. Bottom line is that it's up to us, the pilgrims, to change the situation. In my mind the changes are simple: be polite and kind, accept the rules of the albergue without comment, and understand what to expect before you stay there. Learn a few phrases of the local language -- the hospitalero will appreciate your efforts. Don't expect that the hospitalero speaks your language. As for the Way, pick up after yourself, the same as you would do at home!! Would you poop next to the sofa and leave it there? What about your toilet paper? Just throw it on the ground? C'mon. Greet others, don't be upset that they're going too slow/fast. Make less noise. Don't get angry that there are groups on the Camino, that's the way they chose to travel. Only we can "take back" the Way. Things aren't going to change unless people change, and don't expect everyone to do so. Just my thoughts.
I have walked the Camino twice and intend to be back this fall. For my wife and myself it is an opportunity to relax and detach from everyday life. We are kind to everyone and expect nothing from anyone. Always grateful for the services offered. Every evening we enjoy a small group of new friends. However, I have come across the rude, pushy and complaining pilgrims. I have to admit these people get under my skin. In my humble opinion, if you’re looking to be catered to, stay at a Hilton. I will be taking my sons with us this year (both early 20’s). I really hope they find the journey to be as special as I do.
Buen Camino
 

alhartman

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2005 2007 Frances
2016 Leon to Santiago
I agree with @t2andreo and @good_old_shoes that The Way needs broader communication of the accepted rules. And IMO it should be on the credencial and posted at each albergue. With greater knowledge even more pilgrims will 'conform'. (How many of us knew ahead of time that backpacks on the bed was how chinches travel.)
Posting does happen, but only very rarely.
Setting and communicating expectations must be done early in the camino experience to eliminate our learning by trial and error while waiting for some other pilgrim to kindly point out our transgressions. Sometimes this has been done by the hospitaleras--I still remember MME Roncal checkin instructions including "try speaking Spanish, you are in Spain".
And I believe this setting of expectations is just as important as the kind welcome in SdC for the final stamp and compostela. Bookends as you will.
 

Attachments

epona2011

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago-Fisterra 2011
Norte 2014
Inglés 2016
Portugués (Tui-Santiago) 2017
I'm hesitating to write this but it's something that's been on my mind since it happened and this thread and losing our way resonated strongly with me. I walked a section of the Portugués in 2017 with a small group of close friends. It went very well. At the time I said I'd love to do it again and linger awhile in some of the smaller places we passed through. It was a first Camino for a few of the group and it was amazing to see a transformation after the first few days. Although it was a busy enough route, we seemed to meet a lot of wise and funny people, who guided us on our way and kept us fed and watered. There were terrible wild fires in the area at the time and the locals went out of their way to keep us safe and informed. We arrived in Santiago in the afternoon and decided to wind down for the evening and go to the Pilgrim Mass in the Cathedral the following day. It's something I feel a little ambivalent about, although I like to go to show respect for the ritual, soak up the atmosphere of a sacred place, and appreciate that sense of community that I had witnessed on previous trips. That morning we went to the Cathedral early to show the newbies the ropes (!) and we eventually split up as we wandered around. I found a spot mid-way down an aisle, close to a pillar to sit down and do a bit of people watching 😇. The Cathedral was busy and 30 minutes or so before the Mass started, the pews in the area I was sitting were almost full. There was a large group of people (won't go into nationality but they were English-speaking) with a tour guide occupying three or four pews in front of me and they were keeping spaces for their fellow travellers by placing umbrellas on the pews so as no-one could sit down. The tour guide was patrolling the area with grim intent. A very slight, elderly French woman came up and managed to squeeze into the corner of the pew directly in front of me and by doing so, sat on one of the strategically-placed umbrellas. Within seconds, there was uproar. Those holding the places started to berate her loudly and the tour guide even tried to physically remove her from the seat. One of the group pulled the umbrella from under the French woman and almost knocked her out of the seat. The woman stood her ground and very calmly said that she had walked over 600 kms from France, was a pilgrim here to pray and that this was a cathedral not a cinema. It was terribly upsetting to watch. The tour guide shouted (yes, shouted!) that these were 'our seats' and she 'hadda move'. I was so shocked at the behaviour that I left and haven't been back since. Although I am and always will be a peregrina, and feel a huge connection to the North of Spain, its cultures and people, the confrontation in the cathedral has diminished my experience of the Camino considerably. So I think this is a long-winded way to say that if the question is 'Are we losing our Way?', the answer for me is 'I have lost my Way'.
PS I was on the side of the French lady. I can't believe to this day that I didn't offer her my seat. I will never know what happened after I left.
Apologies for long post.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances Sarria to Santiago March 18 , Camino Frances June 18 Camino Frances May 19
I'm hesitating to write this but it's something that's been on my mind since it happened and this thread and losing our way resonated strongly with me. I walked a section of the Portugués in 2017 with a small group of close friends. It went very well. At the time I said I'd love to do it again and linger awhile in some of the smaller places we passed through. It was a first Camino for a few of the group and it was amazing to see a transformation after the first few days. Although it was a busy enough route, we seemed to meet a lot of wise and funny people, who guided us on our way and kept us fed and watered. There were terrible wild fires in the area at the time and the locals went out of their way to keep us safe and informed. We arrived in Santiago in the afternoon and decided to wind down for the evening and go to the Pilgrim Mass in the Cathedral the following day. It's something I feel a little ambivalent about, although I like to go to show respect for the ritual, soak up the atmosphere of a sacred place, and appreciate that sense of community that I had witnessed on previous trips. That morning we went to the Cathedral early to show the newbies the ropes (!) and we eventually split up as we wandered around. I found a spot mid-way down an aisle, close to a pillar to sit down and do a bit of people watching 😇. The Cathedral was busy and 30 minutes or so before the Mass started, the pews in the area I was sitting were almost full. There was a large group of people (won't go into nationality but they were English-speaking) with a tour guide occupying three or four pews in front of me and they were keeping spaces for their fellow travellers by placing umbrellas on the pews so as no-one could sit down. The tour guide was patrolling the area with grim intent. A very slight, elderly French woman came up and managed to squeeze into the corner of the pew directly in front of me and by doing so, sat on one of the strategically-placed umbrellas. Within seconds, there was uproar. Those holding the places started to berate her loudly and the tour guide even tried to physically remove her from the seat. One of the group pulled the umbrella from under the French woman and almost knocked her out of the seat. The woman stood her ground and very calmly said that she had walked over 600 kms from France, was a pilgrim here to pray and that this was a cathedral not a cinema. It was terribly upsetting to watch. The tour guide shouted (yes, shouted!) that these were 'our seats' and she 'hadda move'. I was so shocked at the behaviour that I left and haven't been back since. Although I am and always will be a peregrina, and feel a huge connection to the North of Spain, its cultures and people, the confrontation in the cathedral has diminished my experience of the Camino considerably. So I think this is a long-winded way to say that if the question is 'Are we losing our Way?', the answer for me is 'I have lost my Way'.
PS I was on the side of the French lady. I can't believe to this day that I didn't offer her my seat. I will never know what happened after I left.
Apologies for long post.
I witnessed the exact same behavior in 2016 except it was an oldish man who came in and sat down . It nearly turned into a fist fight but the the man stayed sitting and the the other person in his twenties had to back down . The attendants at the Cathedral had watched this keeping of seats and aggressive behavior for an hour and took no action . It gets very mixed up as you near Santiago . The first time I landed there was a crowd from a tour bus standing on the marker taking photos and no pilgrim could get near the spot and this year when I arrived there was a Lorry with promotional posters for something parked on top of it and in the pouring rain again no pilgrim could get near it . I wondered would it have made more sense just to walk on through the city and ignore the circus .
 

lizlane

Small Town Girl, Small Town World
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2019
Yes! The "Way" is changing especially the Frances and it seems to have changed overnight. Due to social media and (please don't flog me) the phrase "It's your Camino".
I think blaming the movie is a mistake. If you want to blame someone blame the partnership between REI, a gear shop in the US, that partners with American Pilgrims on The Camino to host awareness workshops about how easy it is, how inexpensive, how it's safe with little or no mention of it being a current PILGRIMAGE destination, never explaining what it means to be a pilgrim but does tell people how to get a PILGRIM'S passport.

I LOATHE the phrase "It's your Camino." Plain and simple, it's not. When people are rude ahead of you on the road, the people behind you pay the price. When you litter, you are polluting a sacred path relying on volunteers to pick up your trash. When you complain loudly of lack of ammenities, pain or about the price or whatever it is, you are poisoning the air around with negativity

Plain and simple it is OUR Camino!
 

FourSeasons

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF Sept/Oct 2013
CF April/May 2016
del Norte (July/August 2019)
I think blaming the movie is a mistake.
I am not blaming the movie "The Way" with Martin Sheen. I'm guessing this is the movie you are referring to? I loved the movie and often recommend it to others. Even though it did shine a light on the Camino, it's not to blame in whole. Besides, I didn't mention the movie, I said "Social Media".

If you want to blame someone blame the partnership between REI, a gear shop in the US, that partners with American Pilgrims on The Camino to host awareness workshops about how easy it is, how inexpensive, how it's safe with little or no mention of it being a current PILGRIMAGE destination, never explaining what it means to be a pilgrim but does tell people how to get a PILGRIM'S passport.
I know REI because I live in the US and I wouldn't blame them as a whole either, as a matter of fact they came late in the game. But let's blame the crazy Americans anyway. LOL 😂 I just Googled "Tour Groups for the Camino de Santiago" and there are literally hundreds from all over. It has exploded over the past 5 years or so, definitely changing the dynamic and the meaning for some/most. Very, very sad.

:cool:👣
 

lizlane

Small Town Girl, Small Town World
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2019
My bad, when you wrote The "Way" I thought you were referring to the movie instead of The Way of St. James. It seems even in English there is the potential for misunderstanding lol!

Tours have their place, for the pilgrims with limited time, age and infirmities. I try to remember that. But I still don't like the idea of people with support vehicles booking places along the route. Dropping them shortly before the next place so they can "walk" in like others (the rest of us). To me that's just gaming the system.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
I witnessed the exact same behavior in 2016 except it was an oldish man who came in and sat down . It nearly turned into a fist fight but the the man stayed sitting and the the other person in his twenties had to back down . The attendants at the Cathedral had watched this keeping of seats and aggressive behavior for an hour and took no action .
When I completed my 2018 Camino, I got there very early for a seat at the cathedral. I was also shocked to see seats being reserved by a tour group, and not just any seats, but some pretty prime ones. And the cathedral attendants were doing nothing about it. It turned out that the tour group had paid for the botafumeiro to be swung that mass and as part of it, for their contribution to the Cathedral, they were allowed to reserve seats for the mass. When I learned that, I was a little more forgiving. It had been some 30 years since I'd seen the botafumeiro swing, since it was never used at any of the masses we attended after my 2016 Camino.
 

Gwaihir

Member
Camino(s) past & future
1-7-2019: Nijmegen-Santiago (Lim/Mon), Campaniensis, Voie Rocamadour, Podiensis, Norte, Primitivo
This is part of the reason I want to walk the camino.

People are feeling more entitled, no religion in place to feel smaller and feel like there is something larger than them out there.

The camino should be a way to reconnect with that sense of being humbled by the world. Literally.
I hope there are others who will also walk for this reason!
 
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