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Camino BMP (Before Mobile Phones)

katie@camino

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF, SJPDP-Finisterre 2016; CPort (Central) from Porto 2017;
CPort (Coastal) from Porto 2018.
#1
I've just completed my 3rd wonderful Camino and I have always wondered something....

What did an afternoon in an albergue look like before mobile phones became a thing?

I don't mean this as a "mobile phones = apocalypse" thread - it's a genuine, non-rhetorical question.

Did pilgrims take books to read?
Was it more social?
Did people sleep more in the arvos?
Were they walking for longer into the day?
Were there board games?
 

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Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
#2
In summer 1990 an afternoon in a refugio ("albergue" wasn't the term used then) was usually very quiet - probably half the nights between SJPDP and Santiago I had the refugio to myself. I normally paused for lunch then walked on until 6pm or later. Quite a few places would not open until 3pm or even 5pm anyway. Walking until late afternoon was pretty standard for most people then since there was no bed rush. The few people I did meet usually read a book or wrote up their diaries. Or we might just sit down and chat over a bottle of wine. By 2002 it was a lot busier but the pattern was much the same. Interestingly laptops had begun to make an appearance even though there was no internet to connect them to. Presumably the people using them had some serious writing in mind though I never bothered to ask. A 2002 laptop was a pretty heavy, bulky and fragile beast and I could not understand why people bothered with them but I saw quite a few that year.
 

katie@camino

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF, SJPDP-Finisterre 2016; CPort (Central) from Porto 2017;
CPort (Coastal) from Porto 2018.
#3
In summer 1990 an afternoon in a refugio ("albergue" wasn't the term used then) was usually very quiet - probably half the nights between SJPDP and Santiago I had the refugio to myself. I normally paused for lunch then walked on until 6pm or later. Quite a few places would not open until 3pm or even 5pm anyway. Walking until late afternoon was pretty standard for most people then since there was no bed rush. The few people I did meet usually read a book or wrote up their diaries. Or we might just sit down and chat over a bottle of wine. By 2002 it was a lot busier but the pattern was much the same. Interestingly laptops had begun to make an appearance even though there was no internet to connect them to. Presumably the people using them had some serious writing in mind though I never bothered to ask. A 2002 laptop was a pretty heavy, bulky and fragile beast and I could not understand why people bothered with them but I saw quite a few that year.
Thanks!

This is so interesting! I wonder why 'refugio' changed to 'albergue'? I can't believe you had it all to yourself for half the time. It must have been incredible walking so leisurely, for so long with no rush to find a bed...i can't imagine.

I also can't even imagine taking a laptop...i guess the pull towards technology/'convenience'(?) can be quite strong for a lot of people.

Would you say it was more social in 1990/2002? I mean, I find it quite social now, even with the proliferation of mobiles - people are still people and we are ultimately social animals.
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
#4
Would you say it was more social in 1990/2002? I mean, I find it quite social now, even with the proliferation of mobiles - people are still people and we are ultimately social animals.
The experience was very different in 1990 and then in 2002. In 1990 I probably saw no more than 30 other pilgrims on the whole CF. And that included the 9 of us at Roncesvalles at the end of day 1 which was the largest group I encountered anywhere. During the day I rarely saw another pilgrim and spent many nights alone in the albergues. But my contacts with local people were far more frequent and enjoyable than on later caminos. In almost every town I passed through someone would stop me for a chat, to shake my hand and wish me "Buen Camino!". As I was almost invariably the only pilgrim in a bar or restaurant I was often invited to sit with a family or group of friends rather than eat alone. On several occasions bar owners would refuse payment for my food and drink - the bill already quietly paid by another customer or "on the house" as a gift for the pilgrim. Although my lack of Spanish and the general lack of English limited conversation we usually found ways to communicate. English is far more commonly spoken on the Camino now than it was in 1990. By 2002 the number of pilgrims had risen enormously and the whole atmosphere of the Camino had changed. Already it was becoming possible and indeed normal for pilgrims to walk in a self-contained bubble: social contact being mainly with other pilgrims, often those who spoke one's own language. Contact with local people was much reduced as we were no longer a novelty. Most conversations with local people were with bar owners and hospitaleros about the nuts and bolts questions of food and drink and accommodation. Given the vast increase in numbers that is hardly surprising. So in my opinion 2002 was "more social" in that there were more people to talk with but it was more self-absorbed and centred on other pilgrims rather than local people. Sad. I consider myself very fortunate to have experienced both.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Portugués, Francés, Le Puy, Rota Vicentina, De Soulac, Norte, Madrid-Salv-Primitivo
#5
What did an afternoon in an albergue look like before mobile phones became a thing?
Hi, I think afternoons in albergues are a modern phenomenon. I didn’t walk the camino before mobiles, but I did a lot of youth hostelling and backpacking around Europe in the seventies. I don’t think the hostels even opened their doors before 5pm, but anyway, we would never get to one before then. We would be out walking, sightseeing, travelling, sitting in cafes, in parks, museums, etc.
Jill
 

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Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata.
#6
I don't remember anyone having a laptop or electronic device in 2001. There were internet cafes in large towns. And phone cards, to be used in public telephone booths to ring home and assuage the worries of loved ones.

My memory is that most refugios did not open until 3 or 4 in the afternoon, and there was no pre-booking. Private refugios were the exception - they were almost all run by associations (Gaucelmo in Rabenaul) or religious organisations including the local parish, or by village or town councils. The only private ones I recall was the one just outside Pamplona operated by the Roncal family, and in Villafranca del Bierzo by Jesus Gato.

What did we do? Attend first of all to the usual chores - showering (and being very grateful when the water was hot), hand washing (no such thing as a washing machine in a refugio!), then talking to other pilgrims and organising dinner. It was pretty sociable. Less accommodation so even though there were fewer pilgrims we all tended to stay in the same places. I also carried books (or my husband carried them for me) - leaving them in refugios as I finished them, picking up ones left by others, and always buying if I was lucky enough to find a bookshop that stocked books in English. When Kindles first came out my husband was a very early adopter - I recall him standing beside me at the airport in Sydney saying "download some more, download some more"!
 

Via2010

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
06/07 & 12 Camino Francés, 08-10 Via de la Plata, 13/14 & 17 Camino Portugués, 18 Camino Primitivo
#7
Hi,

I started walking the Camino in 2006/2007. At that mobile Internet was not an issue. There was a computer with connection to the internet in some albergues or city halls so that pilgrims could look things up if they needed to. There were still public phones in the villages and you could buy a phone card at the tabac store and use it for calling home.

Later (2010/2012) the public phones disappeared as almost everyone had a cell phone.

Last year I realized, that most computers in the albergues and the internet cafes have gone, too. Only in an albergue in Santiago I saw a public computer and a printer so pilgrims can print their tickets.

With so many pilgrims having cell phones with mobile internet the afternoon in the albergue changed very much. We were lazing in the sun, having a drink and talking to each other in those early days. Or we were writing in our diary, wandering round the town and looking for a nice place to eat or for a tienda and thinking about what we could cook in the eveining. Nowadays many pilgrims are lying in their bed, surfing in the internet and probably posting their daily adventures on facebook or instagram. If they want to know if there is a good restaurant in town, they consult the Internet, too.

But still there are some pilgrims who leave their smartphone at home on purpose, because they want to get to know other people (pilgrims and inhabitants), like to talk to someone face to face and to see, smell and feel the real life on the camino....

BC
Alexandra
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF11, CF12, CP13, CF14, CA15, S.Anton15, CF15, CI15
Ditch Pig16, CF17, CP17, CdN, CM, CF18, LePuy19
#8
I have walked every year since 2011. The biggest change I have seen is the increased use of cellphones for Internet connections. For the first couple of years I would go to a public libraries to access the Internet every week or so, there were coin operated computers in some of the albergues but they were generally very slow. This year I was really put off by the number of people who had their faces glued to their phones. It reminded me of zombies walking in Manhattan.
 
Last edited:

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Contemplating yet another "final" camino
Porto to SdC May 2019
#9
I started my first Camino on 13th September 2001 (think about it).

I don't recall seeing a single mobile phone the whole trip. Cibercafes were few and far between and the only thing you saw on TV in bars and cafes was football (the one where they kick the ball), telenovellas and Hermano Grand. People read and swapped paperbacks.

We were pretty much in a bubble (or perhaps that transparent tube they had on ET) of get up, walk, shower, launder, siesta (not THAT much of a change then) until 7th October when somebody walked into the refugio and said there was a war on and everybody was asking what the heck was happening "out there"?

I have a few friends who were with the US forces in Vietnam and they apparently had an expression about leaving Vietnam and going back to the "World". Not as extreme as that obviously but there was a definite difference between Us on the Camino and Them out in the World, even lasted a few days after I got back home and was exposed to TV and newspapers.

In some ways a much more meditative, much less material experience than today.

Hard to believe it was just 17 years ago.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (SJPdP-Burgos, 2015)
Camino Frances (Burgos-Sarria, 2018)
Sarria-Santiago (fall 2018)
#11
@katie@camino, in addition to these really interesting first-person accounts being posted (please keep them coming, everyone!), you might want to take a look at a talk given by Nancy Frey at the Confraternity of St. James convention in London last year.

It's called Pilgrimage in the Internet Age, and examines how social media has changed the pilgrim experience. It's based on 8 years of research and her 25 years on and studying the Camino. It's posted on YouTube, but I don't know how to link it. (Maybe someone can help?)

It may sound academic, but she's an engaging speaker and I found it quite interesting. As is her book, "Pilgrim Stories, On and Off the Road to Santiago," published in 1998. Different world 20 years ago. Yet some things still timeless and universal.
 

oursonpolaire

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
#12
My 2002 experience was much as Bradypus and Kanga and Jeff Crawley have described. There was much more bookreading (I carried Oxford pocket classics of Anthony Trollope novels, as each chapter was pretty well a self-contained episode), with stacks of discarded or completed Paulo Coelho and Shirley MacLaine, and fervent journal-keeping. As albergues (the refugio term was dying out around then) were rarely open before 5, people would be found stretched out on benches and lawns dozing, sitting in cafes with a drink and socializing, particularly with speculation on how many showers there might be in the pueblo's single albergue--- a lot more gulag-like than the palatial establishments we have now. Small groups would huddle together in hunger for the opening of the village's single peregrino-menu restaurant at 7pm, or would sprint there after the village mass for an 8pm dinner so that they could get back before the albergue doors were nailed shut at 10pm. We would examine with tolerant curiosity the slice of carne served up with chips.

A few people were using cellphones, but they were mainly Spaniards engaged in their perpetual conversations with each other ("we like to talk," I was told). It was 2005 when a hairdresser from Manresa taught me how to text on a cellphone and this seemed to me to be a great improvement on trying to contact other pilgrims by leaving messages on albergue noticeboards.

I used the computers in public libraries/casas culturales for email and always found a few other pilgrims diligently typing away. Every now and then, I saw someone trying to upload photographs for their blogs (remember those?) and weeping with frustration as the bandwith failed. Public computers outside the casa cultural have almost disappeared, with perhaps the exception of urban locutorios which rely on Latin American and African customers keeping in touch with home.

One barkeeper told me that, in days gone by, the pilgrim with enter with a cheerful if tired "Buenos tardes," but now the greeting was "¿Hai wifi aquí?"

I have a recollection that English was not as universally used then as it is now, but that could be faulty memory. One of the reasons why I trudge the more obscure Caminos is that I find more of that pre-deluge experience, chatting with gardeners working on their roses (nothing like a carnation in one's buttonhole to elevate the tone of the pilgrimage), gifts of fruit from African farmworkers on behalf of their employers, drinks bought for me by Guardia Civil at the next table in a bar, requests by truckdrivers to remember their aunt Pilar for them when I got to Santiago, invitations outside ayuntamientos to come and kiss the bride, and being dragged off the Camino to join birthday picnics and toast the birthday boy/girl; my horrifically bad castellano no impediment to hearing extraordinary tales of childhood under the dictatorship, or complaints about the government.

But things change. Many more people are on the Francese and, one hopes, getting something from their Camino, even with their moviles.
 

zrexer

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2014, 15 & 16 Camino Frances
2017 Camino Portuguese
2018 Camino Primitivo (Sept.)
#13
Interesting thread. My goal this year when walking the Primitivo is to be more 'connected' with fellow pilgrims and less connected with friends at home as far as posting pictures on Facebook or blogging. In hindsight, I realize after the fact that I spent too much time posting pictures and describing my days and not enough time talking to fellow pilgrims while on my Camino's.
The reality is people reading your posts or looking at your pictures are only getting a tiny glimpse of what walking a Camino is really all about. Many people I describe Camino life too either think it sounds horrid (too hard) or they don't really see it as much different than a resort style holiday. You only really 'get' what a Camino is all about when you actually go and walk one.
So rather than focus on posting a bunch of picture for friends that will likely never walk their own Camino, I really want to make better connections with my fellow walkers this fall when I walk the Primitivo.
 
#14
I remember during my first Camino talking to someone who had heard about it on the Internet, having read about it in a newspaper this sounded very exotic. I cannot remember if I had a phone that time but certainly on our second one we had a phone, for phone calls, and phoned ahead to book places including the Hostal de los Reyes Catolicos..
 

TaijiPilgrim

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2011), Camino Frances (2015), Camino Ingles (2017), Camino Muxia (2017)
#15
I've just completed my 3rd wonderful Camino and I have always wondered something....

What did an afternoon in an albergue look like before mobile phones became a thing?

I don't mean this as a "mobile phones = apocalypse" thread - it's a genuine, non-rhetorical question.

Did pilgrims take books to read?
Was it more social?
Did people sleep more in the arvos?
Were they walking for longer into the day?
Were there board games?
My experience on the camino does not go back to before cellphones - my first Camino Frances was 2011. Then my friend and I shared one cellphone, and I remember we only used it once - to call my husband when we arrived at the cathedral in Santiago. Occasionally, we did use the few computers available in albergues to check email and write home, and there was always a line of pilgrims waiting to use them. In Santiago, we spent a couple hours at the public library sending emails to let folks know we had finished the camino. I earned the nickname of "photographer of the camino" because the age of the selfie was yet to come. I carried a compact Canon S95 and made a point of taking photos of pilgrims, writing down their email addresses, and then sending them their photos when I returned home. Many pilgrims were delighted because they had not taken many, if any, photos. Similarly, I interacted with many local people as I took their pictures. I photographed what might have been the entire senior population of Las Herrieras (before O Cebriero) and sent a copy to the local albergue - I hope they received it!
By 2015, the age of the selfie had arrived. I still carried my Canon S95, but a "photographer of the camino" was no longer needed. The communal computers had also disappeared, and wifi was the standard in bars as well as albergues. Many pilgrims would not consider staying at a place without wifi. They needed to blog. Pilgrims converged on outlets to recharge electronic devices - often as their first chore in an albergue. My friend carried her cellphone and I my Ipad mini, and once a third pilgrim joined us, we frequently called ahead to private albergues because we were slower walkers and feared not having beds together. One change I noticed late on this camino was how many of the more tech savvy pilgrims were calling each other to keep in touch and meet up along the way. And, indeed, even we less tech savvy pilgrims seemed to be interacting more with each other than with local folks. I also noticed among my own pilgrim family, we were English speakers from the United States, Ireland, Great Britain and Australia. I remarked on this because in 2011 my little camino family was my friend - and a peregrina from Russia!
In 2017, I traveled solo. I still carried my Canon S95 and now I traveled with my own smartphone. On it I had downloaded guide, map, and apps. I was walking the Camino Ingles - so fewer pilgrims and fewer local people. I do remember thinking that the local people were friendlier - like the locals on the Camino Frances had been in 2011. And when I reached Santiago, I phoned a Spanish pilgrim I had met, and we were able to reunite at the cathedral.
The joy of reuniting with fellow pilgrims in front of the Santiago cathedral was the same in 2011, 2015, and 2017. I hope that never changes.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF: (2001, 2002, 2004, 2014). Hospitalera: 2002, Ponferrada. 2004, Rabanal del Camino.
#16
In 2001, I walked first camino. I remember using internet cafes in Pamplona, and Santiago.

I do not think I saw many private albergues.

My mom took buses as I walked. We'd meet up every few days or so. We then would take a tour of the city. Our meet-ups required her phoning albergues using number supplied by the Lozano guidebook and asking hospies to give me the message of her whereabouts. Or, we'd agree to meet at a particular town and the lone albergue there.

In 2002, my most magical camino, I went alone. Afternoons were filled with pilgrim get-togethers: eating, touring, having fun.

On my lastest camino, 2014, I walked in winter. Therefore, we pilgrims were forced to interact and form strong bonds due to scarcity of: open albergues, tons of open private albergues, cafes, and pilgrims.

All in all, I never experienced bed race, seeing pilgrims bags transported, or the Sarria to Santiago masses pilgrims discuss on this forum.

And, honestly I am like to experience bed races, a gazillion pilgrims Sarria to Santiago and all the rest of it as soon as possible.
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
#17
. Many pilgrims would not consider staying at a place without wifi. They needed to blog.
In 2016 a young man disturbed the quiet of the dorm in the large and recently refitted albergue in Burgos by yelling "This place is f****** s***" because there was no WiFi. Brand new showers, toilets, beds and mattresses apparently were not enough to justify the 5 euro he had paid to sleep there... Perhaps I am just a grumpy old dinosaur but I do wonder about some people's priorities and sense of entitlement :-(
 

katie@camino

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF, SJPDP-Finisterre 2016; CPort (Central) from Porto 2017;
CPort (Coastal) from Porto 2018.
#18
The experience was very different in 1990 and then in 2002. In 1990 I probably saw no more than 30 other pilgrims on the whole CF. And that included the 9 of us at Roncesvalles at the end of day 1 which was the largest group I encountered anywhere. During the day I rarely saw another pilgrim and spent many nights alone in the albergues. But my contacts with local people were far more frequent and enjoyable than on later caminos. In almost every town I passed through someone would stop me for a chat, to shake my hand and wish me "Buen Camino!". As I was almost invariably the only pilgrim in a bar or restaurant I was often invited to sit with a family or group of friends rather than eat alone. On several occasions bar owners would refuse payment for my food and drink - the bill already quietly paid by another customer or "on the house" as a gift for the pilgrim. Although my lack of Spanish and the general lack of English limited conversation we usually found ways to communicate. English is far more commonly spoken on the Camino now than it was in 1990. By 2002 the number of pilgrims had risen enormously and the whole atmosphere of the Camino had changed. Already it was becoming possible and indeed normal for pilgrims to walk in a self-contained bubble: social contact being mainly with other pilgrims, often those who spoke one's own language. Contact with local people was much reduced as we were no longer a novelty. Most conversations with local people were with bar owners and hospitaleros about the nuts and bolts questions of food and drink and accommodation. Given the vast increase in numbers that is hardly surprising. So in my opinion 2002 was "more social" in that there were more people to talk with but it was more self-absorbed and centred on other pilgrims rather than local people. Sad. I consider myself very fortunate to have experienced both.
I really appreciate this delineation of the social aspect of the Camino - more people but also bigger bubble. As someone who doesn't speak a lot of Spanish, I appreciate the company of fellow English speakers but also cherish those Spanglish conversations i have had with locals. On future Caminos i will certainly try to be more conscious of the bubble i create attempt to interact more with locals.

Having said that, on my most recent Camino, i felt distinctly uncomfortable in a couple of bars in which i was the only pilgrim - Spanish men definitely followed me around the bar, were constantly looking at me and positioning themselves near me.
 

katie@camino

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF, SJPDP-Finisterre 2016; CPort (Central) from Porto 2017;
CPort (Coastal) from Porto 2018.
#19
In 2016 a young man disturbed the quiet of the dorm in the large and recently refitted albergue in Burgos by yelling "This place is f****** s***" because there was no WiFi. Brand new showers, toilets, beds and mattresses apparently were not enough to justify the 5 euro he had paid to sleep there... Perhaps I am just a grumpy old dinosaur but I do wonder about some people's priorities and sense of entitlement :-(
I try not to make too many judgements (on here at least!) about people's reported behaviour - but this young man needs to get his priorities straight. Give me fresh clean amenities over wifi anyday!
 

katie@camino

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF, SJPDP-Finisterre 2016; CPort (Central) from Porto 2017;
CPort (Coastal) from Porto 2018.
#20
I don't remember anyone having a laptop or electronic device in 2001. There were internet cafes in large towns. And phone cards, to be used in public telephone booths to ring home and assuage the worries of loved ones.

My memory is that most refugios did not open until 3 or 4 in the afternoon, and there was no pre-booking. Private refugios were the exception - they were almost all run by associations (Gaucelmo in Rabenaul) or religious organisations including the local parish, or by village or town councils. The only private ones I recall was the one just outside Pamplona operated by the Roncal family, and in Villafranca del Bierzo by Jesus Gato.

What did we do? Attend first of all to the usual chores - showering (and being very grateful when the water was hot), hand washing (no such thing as a washing machine in a refugio!), then talking to other pilgrims and organising dinner. It was pretty sociable. Less accommodation so even though there were fewer pilgrims we all tended to stay in the same places. I also carried books (or my husband carried them for me) - leaving them in refugios as I finished them, picking up ones left by others, and always buying if I was lucky enough to find a bookshop that stocked books in English. When Kindles first came out my husband was a very early adopter - I recall him standing beside me at the airport in Sydney saying "download some more, download some more"!
I don't often see discarded books in albergues these days...
 

katie@camino

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF, SJPDP-Finisterre 2016; CPort (Central) from Porto 2017;
CPort (Coastal) from Porto 2018.
#21
I started my first Camino on 13th September 2001 (think about it).

I don't recall seeing a single mobile phone the whole trip. Cibercafes were few and far between and the only thing you saw on TV in bars and cafes was football (the one where they kick the ball), telenovellas and Hermano Grand. People read and swapped paperbacks.

We were pretty much in a bubble (or perhaps that transparent tube they had on ET) of get up, walk, shower, launder, siesta (not THAT much of a change then) until 7th October when somebody walked into the refugio and said there was a war on and everybody was asking what the heck was happening "out there"?

I have a few friends who were with the US forces in Vietnam and they apparently had an expression about leaving Vietnam and going back to the "World". Not as extreme as that obviously but there was a definite difference between Us on the Camino and Them out in the World, even lasted a few days after I got back home and was exposed to TV and newspapers.

In some ways a much more meditative, much less material experience than today.

Hard to believe it was just 17 years ago.
Incredible to think about being on the Camino during such world-changing events!
 

katie@camino

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF, SJPDP-Finisterre 2016; CPort (Central) from Porto 2017;
CPort (Coastal) from Porto 2018.
#22
@katie@camino, in addition to these really interesting first-person accounts being posted (please keep them coming, everyone!), you might want to take a look at a talk given by Nancy Frey at the Confraternity of St. James convention in London last year.

It's called Pilgrimage in the Internet Age, and examines how social media has changed the pilgrim experience. It's based on 8 years of research and her 25 years on and studying the Camino. It's posted on YouTube, but I don't know how to link it. (Maybe someone can help?)

It may sound academic, but she's an engaging speaker and I found it quite interesting. As is her book, "Pilgrim Stories, On and Off the Road to Santiago," published in 1998. Different world 20 years ago. Yet some things still timeless and universal.
Thankyou! I'll check it out.
 

katie@camino

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF, SJPDP-Finisterre 2016; CPort (Central) from Porto 2017;
CPort (Coastal) from Porto 2018.
#23
My 2002 experience was much as Bradypus and Kanga and Jeff Crawley have described. There was much more bookreading (I carried Oxford pocket classics of Anthony Trollope novels, as each chapter was pretty well a self-contained episode), with stacks of discarded or completed Paulo Coelho and Shirley MacLaine, and fervent journal-keeping. As albergues (the refugio term was dying out around then) were rarely open before 5, people would be found stretched out on benches and lawns dozing, sitting in cafes with a drink and socializing, particularly with speculation on how many showers there might be in the pueblo's single albergue--- a lot more gulag-like than the palatial establishments we have now. Small groups would huddle together in hunger for the opening of the village's single peregrino-menu restaurant at 7pm, or would sprint there after the village mass for an 8pm dinner so that they could get back before the albergue doors were nailed shut at 10pm. We would examine with tolerant curiosity the slice of carne served up with chips.

A few people were using cellphones, but they were mainly Spaniards engaged in their perpetual conversations with each other ("we like to talk," I was told). It was 2005 when a hairdresser from Manresa taught me how to text on a cellphone and this seemed to me to be a great improvement on trying to contact other pilgrims by leaving messages on albergue noticeboards.

I used the computers in public libraries/casas culturales for email and always found a few other pilgrims diligently typing away. Every now and then, I saw someone trying to upload photographs for their blogs (remember those?) and weeping with frustration as the bandwith failed. Public computers outside the casa cultural have almost disappeared, with perhaps the exception of urban locutorios which rely on Latin American and African customers keeping in touch with home.

One barkeeper told me that, in days gone by, the pilgrim with enter with a cheerful if tired "Buenos tardes," but now the greeting was "¿Hai wifi aquí?"

I have a recollection that English was not as universally used then as it is now, but that could be faulty memory. One of the reasons why I trudge the more obscure Caminos is that I find more of that pre-deluge experience, chatting with gardeners working on their roses (nothing like a carnation in one's buttonhole to elevate the tone of the pilgrimage), gifts of fruit from African farmworkers on behalf of their employers, drinks bought for me by Guardia Civil at the next table in a bar, requests by truckdrivers to remember their aunt Pilar for them when I got to Santiago, invitations outside ayuntamientos to come and kiss the bride, and being dragged off the Camino to join birthday picnics and toast the birthday boy/girl; my horrifically bad castellano no impediment to hearing extraordinary tales of childhood under the dictatorship, or complaints about the government.

But things change. Many more people are on the Francese and, one hopes, getting something from their Camino, even with their moviles.
This is an excellent reminder to me to consistently greet bar/restaurant owners with "buenos tardes".

And I do think that people are getting something from any Camino they walk, in whatever style.
 

katie@camino

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF, SJPDP-Finisterre 2016; CPort (Central) from Porto 2017;
CPort (Coastal) from Porto 2018.
#24
Reading these recounts has been wonderful, thankyou. It has twigged something i wasn't expecting - a memory of first hearing about the Camino in 1997 when i was in high school - but I didn't walk it until 2016. So much changed in between and I really wish I'd experienced a Camino when it was still quiet...contemplative...solitudinous. This regret in turn reminds me of a beautiful conversation I had a with a nun in Santiago who introduced me to the Rumi poem "Don't Postpone Your Yes"...and I wonder - what am I postponing at the moment?
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
#25
"Don't Postpone Your Yes"
Mybe off topic, but I love this, Katie!
In some ways a much more meditative, much less material experience than today. Hard to believe it was just 17 years ago.
I really wish I'd experienced a Camino when it was still quiet...contemplative...solitudinous.
Time flies and change can happen fast. But there are still plenty of places to walk alone and away from the hordes on the Frances. Caminos where the locals wish you a heartfelt "Buen Camino," as opposed to being overwhelmed but the crowds of walkers tat-tatting through their towns: the Madrid, the Invierno, the Ebro...for starters.
Perhaps I am just a grumpy old dinosaur but I do wonder about some people's priorities and sense of entitlement :-(
Good manners do not age. And entitlement always stinks.
I could go on, but enough said.;)
 

movinmaggie

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015) Scotland GGW (2017) Primitivo (2018) if all vital signs working
#26
I recall listening to a few owners say how much they miss the days (and nights) when pilgrims actually interacted and socialized with them and with each other...rather than everyone individually gazing into their screens.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Via de la Plata (Spring 2012), Sanabres (Fall 2018).
#27
I recall listening to a few owners say how much they miss the days (and nights) when pilgrims actually interacted and socialized with them and with each other...rather than everyone individually gazing into their screens.
It’s the problem with the whole world both young and old ... plugged in but tuned out!
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
#28
hmmmmm, well apart from those 21st Century Pilgrims who seem unable to unglue themselves from their phones, I'd say that the only fundamental changes that smartphones have brought about have been to drastically increase the number of people phoning ahead to book a room, and people remaining a LOT more in touch with home than they did before.

Most people seem to wean themselves away from some excessive phone use at the start within a few days, so I'd say the fundamentals haven't really changed that much. Of course, with everyone starting at different points all along the Way, that never really disappears.

But there are more people than before who are interacting with elsewhere and with others rather than looking to see who's around in the here and now.

Though I think that's not such a fundamental change. There have always been some more solitary pilgrims keeping to themselves, those more involved with a smaller or more collective group experience, and then there's the bikers off in their own world. The smartphone-pilgrims aren't really that big of a change, socially, from a pilgrim point of view -- perhaps a bit more from the POV of the Hospitaleros and the locals ?
 

MoniRose

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
(5/28-7/4, 2012) Camino Frances - SJPP to Santiago
(7/22-8/2, 2013) Camino Finesterra
(?) Camino Le Puy
#29
I walked in 2012 and did not use my phone except for photos. In fact, my first 3weeks on the Camino I believe I may have taken only about 5 photos in total! When available, I used the internet in the albergues to send group messages to update family on where I was and anything eventful that had happened. After chores and checking in with the family and home, I mostly sat around the bars and visited with other pilgrims. It was lovely!
Moni
 
Camino(s) past & future
2035 km of the way to Saint James in Galicia done.
#30
a talk given by Nancy Frey at the Confraternity of St. James convention in London last year. It's called Pilgrimage in the Internet Age, and examines how social media has changed the pilgrim experience. It's based on 8 years of research and her 25 years on and studying the Camino. It's posted on YouTube, but I don't know how to link it. (Maybe someone can help?)
@Bala, I don't know whether you have seen this, I don't think the link has been posted on the forum yet:

15 Tips for Keeping your Head out of the Cloud: Pilgrimage in Body AND Mind
By Nancy L. Frey, PhD
23 March 2018

Recommended! Deserves perhaps its own thread?

PS: Links to Nancy Frey's talks on video can be found on the same website: https://www.walkingtopresence.com
 
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JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
#31
Nancy !!!

One of my favourite people from the 1994, in beautiful Belorado ...
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (SJPdP-Burgos, 2015)
Camino Frances (Burgos-Sarria, 2018)
Sarria-Santiago (fall 2018)
#32
@Bala, I don't know whether you have seen this, I don't think the link has been posted on the forum yet:

15 Tips for Keeping your Head out of the Cloud: Pilgrimage in Body AND Mind
By Nancy L. Frey, PhD
23 March 2018

Recommended! Deserves perhaps its own thread?

PS: Links to Nancy Frey's talks on video can be found on the same website: https://www.walkingtopresence.com
A very thoughtful and thought-provoking article. It definitely deserves its own thread, @Kathar1na . Please post! (I would if I could figure out how.....) A lot for me to think about before I head out again.
 

katie@camino

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF, SJPDP-Finisterre 2016; CPort (Central) from Porto 2017;
CPort (Coastal) from Porto 2018.
#33
@Bala, I don't know whether you have seen this, I don't think the link has been posted on the forum yet:

15 Tips for Keeping your Head out of the Cloud: Pilgrimage in Body AND Mind
By Nancy L. Frey, PhD
23 March 2018

Recommended! Deserves perhaps its own thread?

PS: Links to Nancy Frey's talks on video can be found on the same website: https://www.walkingtopresence.com
Oh i LOVE this - thankyou so much for posting! I love the before-after pics. I want to be a "before" photo on my next Camino!
 
Camino(s) past & future
.
#34
We can't (yet) travel back in time to walk a pre-mobile / internet camino. But there is Laurence Boulting's film 'Within the Way Without', shot around 1999/2000 I think (released 2004). Top camino film - and it even starts with one of the main characters leafing through the box of postcards she sent home while on the camino (yes postcards!!).
The whole movie is on youtube under its Spanish name 'Tres en el Camino' with Spanish subtitles for the Brazilian and Japanese pilgrims. If you want English subtitles for the Portugues and Japanese, I think the CSJ still sell WTWW on DVD.
 

Via2010

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
06/07 & 12 Camino Francés, 08-10 Via de la Plata, 13/14 & 17 Camino Portugués, 18 Camino Primitivo
#35
Dare I say that I was shocked by the photographs enclosed in the above mentioned article? I started counting, how many pilgrims on these photos were distracted by their mobiles. Guess it is nine out of ten.

So it becomes increasingly difficult, to talk to someone without distraction or interference.

For me the hint that a particular albergue has no WiFi is a recommendation. It is a good place to find similar minded people and to have meaningful conversation.

BC
Alexandra
 

Felipe

Veteran Member
#38
I wonder if there is not a seasonal variation, too. I usually walk in early spring or late autumn, and I have not experienced a particular social problem related to the use of cellphones. I suppose that walkers tend to be more "social" when it is cold and raining outside. Also, I guess that statistically, walkers tend to be older, so they belong to generations less inclined to feel the urge to be online all time.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
#39
Dare I say that I was shocked by the photographs enclosed in the above mentioned article? I started counting, how many pilgrims on these photos were distracted by their mobiles. Guess it is nine out of ten.
Of course. Those photos were not random photos taken on the camino. They were selected for effect, to illustrate a particular point of view.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Past? Not enough.
Future? Sure!
#40
I still send postcards to my grand-children. They love them. Something arriving in the post is special.
Yes, the Swiss Mail has an app which allow to send postcards directly from your smartphone.
Badly, they allow you only to send inland (Switzerland).
I have use it last year to send cards to my mother every 3-4 days and she was very keen of them....
Buen Camino, Jacques-D.
PS: may be US Mail has something like this...
 

Via2010

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
06/07 & 12 Camino Francés, 08-10 Via de la Plata, 13/14 & 17 Camino Portugués, 18 Camino Primitivo
#41
Of course. Those photos were not random photos taken on the camino. They were selected for effect, to illustrate a particular point of view.
Nevertheless, reflecting my past caminos, especially walking the Portugese in august 2017, and the section Lugo-Santiago this june to the caminos I have done a couple of years ago, I consider these photographs being representative.

In 2013 I walked the Portugese, but at that time it seemed to me, that most pilgrims only used their smartphones for sending photographs back home or booking a hostel room. Nowadays you even see some people staring at the screen of their mobile while walking, relying on their camino app instead of watching out for yellow arrows.

BC
Alexandra
 

oursonpolaire

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
#42
Just FYI, it’s buenas tardes (tarde is feminine).
O dear! Perhaps I have been challenging Iberian tropes of gender and masculinity without thinking! I'm lucky to be alive.

The best postcards along the Camino are to be found in the tobacco shops-- I quite enjoy the faded ones from Franco's time, with pastel-coloured SEATs strewn about the plaza, and men in suits on their paseo. They often go for 10c. The Camino is where I learned to emulate a Luxembourgeois pilgrim who had pre-printed his address labels: he said it allowed him to keep track of those to whom he had sent postcards, and told me that copying addresses out of an address book took away from valuable sitting-in-the-plaza-with-wine hours.
 

Shades of Narnia

Sandi, Shades of Narnia
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis, 2014
Camino Portuguese 2015
Camino Francis, 2016 & Hospitalera in Viana Spain
Etc.
#45
@katie@camino, in addition to these really interesting first-person accounts being posted (please keep them coming, everyone!), you might want to take a look at a talk given by Nancy Frey at the Confraternity of St. James convention in London last year.

It's called Pilgrimage in the Internet Age, and examines how social media has changed the pilgrim experience. It's based on 8 years of research and her 25 years on and studying the Camino. It's posted on YouTube, but I don't know how to link it. (Maybe someone can help?)

It may sound academic, but she's an engaging speaker and I found it quite interesting. As is her book, "Pilgrim Stories, On and Off the Road to Santiago," published in 1998. Different world 20 years ago. Yet some things still timeless and universal.
I, too, found her talk most interesting. -sandi
 

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