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Camino Frances Social Dynamics

MickMac

Veteran Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances 2013
Frances 2016
Frances 2017
Frances 2018
Frances 2018
Ponferrada-Santiago
July 2019
Just a thought, I started walking the Camino Frances 2013, 11 times since, watched many blogs and videos, some good some poor.

The one common thread throughout is the groups (Families) that form organically along the way. The social fabric of these Camino families is unique and deserves study.

The common bond that develops among all nationalities, genders, and to a certain extent ages, needs careful study born out of common goals and hardships it brings out the true miracle of our Caminos.

Traditional and social norms and national suspicion are forgotten in the common pursuit of the common goal, I believe we experience one special unique Camino with comrades which in some cases last a lifetime never to be repeated exactly, no matter how much we try. Some people wish to do their Camino in isolation and this is respected by the groups taken as part of others journey.

My last few Caminos have been of isolation which is a mistake on my part making those evenings after walking a bit desolate and not fulfilling, so enjoy the unique comradeship of the Camino when possible it can be a fleeting glance of true friendship regrets I have plenty but you cannot change the past.
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
Just a thought, I started walking the Camino Frances 2013, 11 times since, watched many blogs and videos, some good some poor.

The one common thread throughout is the groups (Families) that form organically along the way. The social fabric of these Camino families is unique and deserves study.

The common bond that develops among all nationalities, genders, and to a certain extent ages, needs careful study born out of common goals and hardships it brings out the true miracle of our Caminos.

Traditional and social norms and national suspicion are forgotten in the common pursuit of the common goal, I believe we experience one special unique Camino with comrades which in some cases last a lifetime never to be repeated exactly, no matter how much we try. Some people wish to do their Camino in isolation and this is respected by the groups taken as part of others journey.

My last few Caminos have been of isolation which is a mistake on my part making those evenings after walking a bit desolate and not fulfilling, so enjoy the unique comradeship of the Camino when possible it can be a fleeting glance of true friendship regrets I have plenty but you cannot change the past.
I think the behaviour you describe is pretty common to the ‘backpacking/travelling world and not necessarily unique to the Camino.
 
I think the behaviour you describe is pretty common to the ‘backpacking/travelling world and not necessarily unique to the Camino.
Thanks for your contribution.
 
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As a long term backpacker, I agree completely
The responses to my post by long term backpackers leave me perplexed a little, no offence meant, I am not a "Long term backpacker" the Camino means a lot more to me, its not an endurance test to test stamina, it is steeped in over a century of pilgrimages and history. For some its religious other's its spiritual and for back packers its fun.
So enjoy your hike, but do not miss the meaning of this unique pilgrimage.
 
The one common thread throughout is the groups (Families) that form organically along the way.
I think the behaviour you describe is pretty common to the ‘backpacking/travelling world and not necessarily unique to the Camino.
Something I’ve never thought about until just now is the difference in the terms I use for the social groups that form in these two situations. I must say I don’t really love the term ‘camino family’, but it certainly implies a tight-knit group. For backpacking, my wife and I often refer to other travellers we meet as ‘three-day friends’ — people you might spend time with in a certain city, but then often you go your separate ways and may or may not maintain contact with them afterwards. It certainly implies a looser connection but it’s true that in some cases we have developed lasting friendships with people who started out as ‘three-day friends’.
 
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@MickMac, you describe social group dynamics as unique to the Camino that others have observed in other settings under similar conditions: like-minded people, from many countries, strangers to each other, common goal, walking for many days, mutual support and friendships are formed and some become even life-long friends. That's really all they are saying. I was surprised to learn recently that there is even a name for it now: trail family.
 
@MickMac, you describe social group dynamics as unique to the Camino that others have observed in other settings under similar conditions: like-minded people, from many countries, strangers to each other, common goal, walking for many days, mutual support and friendships are formed and some become even life-long friends. That's really all they are saying.
Exactly. @MickMac, this is a classic example of different uses of a word. It came up in the excellent thread 'Are you a hiker or a walker '.

Backpacking to me is not on a trail, it is a lifestyle, travelling from one land to another, staying in Backpacker hostels, living as cheaply as possible, experiencing as much as I can of the local culture, and meeting people from literally all over the world.
As it happens, I am also a hiker and have experienced exactly the same connections on the trail.
Traditional and social norms and national suspicion are forgotten in the common pursuit of the common goal
This is exactly what I meant - regardless as to whether (30 + years ago) you were from Russia or the USA, Northern or Southern Ireland: in a backpacker hostel, just like on the Camino, nobody cared.
(Sorry I'm trying to give halfway reasonable examples, it's not easy!) China or Taiwan would perhaps be a modern example? Muslim or Christian?
My point is in a backpacker hostel we are all visitors, and normally treat each other openly, with kindness and friendship.

And whilst I am not religious per se, spirituality is most definitely not just confined to the Camino. I have had some powerful, incredibly uplifting spiritual experiences in the Canadian backwoods, in places that have been around for many, many thousands of years longer than the Camino.
 
I believe we experience one special unique Camino with comrades
I agree with MickMac. IME Long term backpackers on a trail have a much more similar set of backgrounds, abilities and goals. It's the diversity of the spectrums of camino pilgrims that provides its richness, joy and occasional WTF moments. For me, 'family' is not quite the right description - the best groupings are looser than that. Whatever it is, I'm content for it to elude a one-word tag.
 
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@MickMac, you describe social group dynamics as unique to the Camino that others have observed in other settings under similar conditions: like-minded people, from many countries, strangers to each other, common goal, walking for many days, mutual support and friendships are formed and some become even life-long friends. That's really all they are saying. I was surprised to learn recently that there is even a name for it now: trail family.
Thank you! Yes this is 100% what I was meaning. I have been a long term backpacker for last 4 years and have done 3 Caminos within that period and I find the social dynamics are pretty much identical. I am not saying the demographics are the same (though I do think they are similar), or that peoples reasons for being there aren’t different, or that the Camino isn’t unique in other ways, but I do find a huge corrrelation between the two groups (‘camino’ers’ and backpackers).

It doesn’t suprise me. Lots of similarities; communal living, like minded folks, shared perspectives, shared desire to acquire and offer information and support, being in a less than ‘normal’ environment etc. All this ‘breaks down’ gender, social, class, age, ethnicity, etc., differences, that are very prevelent in everyday normal life.

I have many examples (and I am sure we all have) where I have spent say 3-4 days in the company of someone who is opposite in pretty much every way to my demographic but the ‘situation’ has bonded us for a moment in time. We may meet up again further down route or we may not! I think it may have been @trecile who noted that she ceased to be ‘mom’ whilst walking with a younger group, and her identity was just one of the walkers, which I thought was very insightful.

I do think travelling alone and staying in albergies is central to this. They are the obvious tangible similarities. I am currently travelling with a friend, staying in private rooms, and it’s a very very different experience to travelling alone and staying in hostels in so many ways.
 
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I have many examples ( and I am sure we al have) where I have spent say 3-4 days in the company of someone who is opposite in pretty much every way to my demographic but the ‘situation’ has bonded us for a moment in time. We may meet up again further down route or we may not!
Me too. I deliberately avoid the "camino family" and mostly walk alone. But there are sometimes people who I find interesting and compatible and with whom I am happy to spend some time. On my last Camino Frances a young Canadian woman asked if she could walk with me for her first day on the Camino. A pleasant companion who turned out to be the same age as my daughter. It turned out we had a number of interests in common. Over the next week or so we met up occasionally and walked together for an hour or two several times. The differences in age and nationality were no problem.
 
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Traditional and social norms and national suspicion are forgotten in the common pursuit of the common goal, I believe we experience one special unique Camino with comrades which in some cases last a lifetime never to be repeated exactly, no matter how much we try. Some people wish to do their Camino in isolation and this is respected by the groups taken as part of others journey.
Personally I have a much different take on the "camino family" experience. When I first walked in 2012 I believe (oly 8 to your 11 so I am a rookie haha). There were no camino families nor did I hear that term used. People I encountered walked alone or with the people they came to the camino with. The infrastructure was far less on the CF than it is today, so you found yourself seeing many of the same people most nights in the albergues. I met lots of wonderful people and there were about 15-20 pilgrims who had settled walking about the same distance every day so you saw most of them almost every day. It was really nice and good friendships were made. But there was a greater amount of independence as there was no "family". In 2015 I first discovered the camino family units. I did see people walking to keep up with their families who were sick or injured but kept pushing on which of course exacerbated their sickness or injury. "Why are you walking if you have such severe blisters"? I would ask. "Because I want to keep up with my family. I would always say, and have said it here before on the forum, they are not your family at all. They are people you have met who have their own priorities and time frames. Your real family, mother, father, brother, sister etc, would they let you walk in the condition you are in? Of course not, because they are your real family.
Now I walk really quiet and isolated caminos along with a section of maybe the Meseta or last year the CP coastal in November. I walk later in the year so those isolated caminos are virtually void of other pilgrims. When I get to a more crowded camino it is a shock to the system. Also I have found, (of course I can only speak to my experience) that yes, while people still were nice, I noticed that new single pilgrims like myself were not asked to dinner, or at times when I did ask a person to dinner I would be told that they had plans but thank you for asking. It seems to me that many had their "family" and in a sense did not want others intruding on it. I am an extrovert, everyone I know thinks I am quick witted and funny (not trying to be egotistical, just trying to show I am not afraid to engage with others), but rarely did I ever feel anything but an outsider. There were times that I would walk into a restaurant or prepare a meal in an albergue and not asked to join the "family" in that restaurant or to participate making a dinner.
Having said all this I have stil made many friends and had wonderful experiences with pilgrims I have met. I also have no issue with walking 5 or 600k and not seeing anyone. I may walk the Mozarabe from Almeria to Merida and then do the CP coastal again as last year I swam that section more than walked it. I do think that the idea of having a meal with 10 people from 12 countries is one of the most special and memorable experiences any pilgrim can have. I know lots and lots of people love "families" and maybe need them. But I have experienced and seen that they can also be isolating and cliquish. I am sure my feeling is a minority one.
 
I know lots and lots of people love "families" and maybe need them. But I have experienced and seen that they can also be isolating and cliquish. I am sure my feeling is a minority one.
Likewise. I am a little surprized that anyone sees the temporary formation of tight knit small groups as in any way unusual or Camino specific, particularly when the groups have a shared goal.

And while I more often walked alone than in company, there have been some people that I have walked with that I remain in contact with today. Most of the time, though, I expect other pilgrims I meet to be 'three day friends', to borrow a phrase from @jungleboy
 
This winter my group of students and I were sort of an artificial family led by me and the other instructor. We all came to the Camino together from our university and it was quite easy for the students to "stick together". Everyone walked by themselves at least part of the way and not in little groups as part of an assignment I made for them to contemplate by walking in silence.

We invited a pilgrim walking alone to supper with us twice (one night she came along and the other did not). Each student also each walked and talked (when language permitted) with various pilgrims along the way although in the winter there were not too many others to choose from. We only met a few single pilgrims and couples walking together (married couples, daughter/mother, two brothers) and no larger Camino family groups in the winter beyond our own artificially created one.

This is the closest thing I have had to a pilgrim family. I found that some of the students really wanted that "belonging" and others like myself would have preferred to be walking alone and not with a group. I do think for some people there is a longing to "belong", but clearly that is not for all pilgrims. I also wonder if some of it is developmentally related as I recall having more of a "friends" group that I felt I must spend time with regularly when I was younger.

I've only ever hiked on trails in the US with Phil and have only walked the Camino with him. I am looking forward to a Camino in winter 2025 when I will walk a long distance by myself and then join up with him for shorter segments. I kind of like the idea for the first time of just considering my individual agenda and not one for both of us. He's gone on a couple of Camino trips alone, but until I retire I have not yet had the same time to do so. I would have never walked a Camino at all if he had not asked me to begin with.
 
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I think the behaviour you describe is pretty common to the ‘backpacking/travelling world and not necessarily unique to the Camino.

It might not be totally unique to the Camino, but in my experience, it is different on the Camino compared to other walks and travels I've done.

On my hikes in Germany for example my experience is that people usually either walk in small groups and stay within their group, or walk alone and want to stay alone. Hello - goodbye - some smalltalk. Polite, but distanced and usually superficial conversation. I usually don't remember these people longer than a few hours or days.

Since most hikers on those shorter (100km or so) routes stay in hotels, you don't meet in the evenings either. Even on one of the German Jakobswege, the only two pilgrims I met on that route didn't even say hello (I greeted them first and got no reply), which was a weird experience.

Most people I've met were very friendly, locals as well as other hikers or cyclists ect., but often you only meet them once and then never again.

One time I remember I had a "Camino moment" on a campsite during a non-Camino hike. Another hiker joined me at a table and we talked. Funny enough, it turned out to be someone who also had walked several Caminos...! We only talked for an hour or so but it felt very Camino like.

Maybe on the longer routes like the PCT and AT a "trail family" is more common. I haven't walked trails like that. But I can imagine it is similar to the Camino, since everyone has the same destination / direction also, and you have the opportunity to meet the same people again and again over weeks.

Overall, the openness of people is something I find to be very rare and quite unique to the Camino. Conversations tend to get deep very quickly if you allow it, with total strangers. There are people I met for only a few minutes on the Camino almost ten years ago and I still remember them.

Also, the diversity is remarkable for a long distance "hiking path". From rich bankers to the jobless and homeless, from teenagers to 80 years olds, from the very fit to those with diseases or disabilities, from marathon runners to couch potatoes... from all kinds of countries... all walking on the same way with the same destination, meeting in the same dormitory, at the same dinner table... with usually everyone getting along well, being respectful and kind to each other...

For me, that is special. There is a reason why I keep repeating the Camino Francés and not the very very lonely walk from Trier to Cluny or some random scenic hiking route.
 
It might not be totally unique to the Camino, but in my experience, it is different on the Camino compared to other walks and travels I've done.

On my hikes in Germany for example my experience is that people usually either walk in small groups and stay within their group, or walk alone and want to stay alone. Hello - goodbye - some smalltalk. Polite, but distanced and usually superficial conversation. I usually don't remember these people longer than a few hours or days.

Since most hikers on those shorter (100km or so) routes stay in hotels, you don't meet in the evenings either. Even on one of the German Jakobswege, the only two pilgrims I met on that route didn't even say hello (I greeted them first and got no reply), which was a weird experience.

Most people I've met were very friendly, locals as well as other hikers or cyclists ect., but often you only meet them once and then never again.

One time I remember I had a "Camino moment" on a campsite during a non-Camino hike. Another hiker joined me at a table and we talked. Funny enough, it turned out to be someone who also had walked several Caminos...! We only talked for an hour or so but it felt very Camino like.

Maybe on the longer routes like the PCT and AT a "trail family" is more common. I haven't walked trails like that. But I can imagine it is similar to the Camino, since everyone has the same destination / direction also, and you have the opportunity to meet the same people again and again over weeks.

Overall, the openness of people is something I find to be very rare and quite unique to the Camino. Conversations tend to get deep very quickly if you allow it, with total strangers. There are people I met for only a few minutes on the Camino almost ten years ago and I still remember them.

Also, the diversity is remarkable for a long distance "hiking path". From rich bankers to the jobless and homeless, from teenagers to 80 years olds, from the very fit to those with diseases or disabilities, from marathon runners to couch potatoes... from all kinds of countries... all walking on the same way with the same destination, meeting in the same dormitory, at the same dinner table... with usually everyone getting along well, being respectful and kind to each other...

For me, that is special. There is a reason why I keep repeating the Camino Francés and not the very very lonely walk from Trier to Cluny or some random scenic hiking route.
Thanks. Sure! I wasn’t comparing the Camino to other multi day hikes, as I don’t jave any experience there. I guess I am comparing it to, say, a SE Asia few months trip, where you meet, remeet and generally bond with folks very quickly and share. You tend to meet people who are going where you are going, or have been where you are going so bonds are easy. I remember meeting 4 folks once who I assumed were close friends but they had only met that morning. Hundreds of these stories.

I think there is a high calibre of person on the Camino, but an equally high calibre of person across the SE Asia, Central and South America trips that many do! If had to distinguish across the two groups, I would say that pilgrims are older, more affluent (the two are linked) and maybe less dominated by UK, France and German nationals (though I Imagine that lots of USA/Canadians folks do a long trip to Europe so are less represented in SE Asia.

But the overwhelming vibe and culture are very similar to me!

I am not being critical of the Camino just saying that communal living and shared interests drive a lot of human behaviour irrespective of the reason for travel.
 
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So enjoy your hike, but do not miss the meaning of this unique pilgrimage.
I am always perplexed by. statements regarding how special or unique a camino experience is. There are as many definitions and meanings of a "unique camino experience". One pilgrim"s unique experience may be completely meaningless to another pilgrim's idea of what a camino experience is. As a personal example; I am amazed when people walk just 5 or 6 days and are bursting with joy over how much their camino was a life changing, profound experience. Maybe it was but to me this sounds ridiculous. Even after walking over 8,000k it still takes me about 10 days just to warm up. I have walked many caminos that were not profound or life changing but I would not have traded on step of it for anything in the world. It still brought me quiet, yet temporary peace and and happiness. I have a feeling your idea of the meaning of this unique pilgrimage is far different with far more layers to it than mine.
A camino for me can be summed up by quiet, mindlessness, simplicity, struggle, the rhythm of my steps and the reminder that all I need is my family, my friends and what is my backpack.
I do not need another pilgrim, let alone a "family" to get back to my home and the real world that is the camino.
Buen Camino
 
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For some the social aspect of the Camino is important.

For others it isn't.

Both is fine.

What I can say is, that you can walk your solitary walk all alone everywhere. No Camino route or pilgrimage route required for that.

But on the other hand, you can not expect a pilgrim community as for example on the Francés everywhere, on just any other hiking route.

I am amazed when people walk just 5 or 6 days and are bursting with joy over how much their camino was a life changing, profound experience. Maybe it was but to me this sounds ridiculous. Even after walking over 8,000k it still takes me about 10 days just to warm up.

I usually need two weeks to get into the rhythm, and I've also walked over 6000kms of Caminos so far. On my last walk, it took me 1000kms to "warm up".

But that doesn't mean others can't get there more quickly than me. I'm a slow learner apparently. 6k kms and apparently I still haven't arrived...

I certainly wouldn't ridicule others just because they don't have the same experience as me.
 
On my hikes in Germany for example my experience is that people usually either walk in small groups and stay within their group, or walk alone and want to stay alone. Hello - goodbye - some smalltalk. Polite, but distanced and usually superficial conversation. I usually don't remember these people longer than a few hours or days
As a newcomer to Germany (2018) it is my personal experience that Germans in their own land are far more reserved than many other nationalities that I have met. Most Kiwis, Aussies, Canadians, and Europeans- especially Scandinavians - are friendly wherever you find them.

It does appear to vary from region to region. For example here in Brandenburg the locals are most definitely not welcoming. If you get a smile from somebody in the street, or on one of the many trails nearby - they either already know you, or they're not from here.

On the weekend I was in Uder, a little town about three hours away. Whilst I wouldn't say that everybody there was friendly, at least most people acknowledged me in the street.

I've only walked 200 kilometers of the Jakobsweg here in Germany, of the four people I met along the way, only one had the courtesy to acknowledge my greeting.

This is completely at variance with my experience of meeting Germans in backpacker hostels around the world, or on Camino. Which is why, like @TravellingMan22 , I think the behaviour described by @MickMac is common to the backpacking/travelling world and not necessarily unique to the Camino.
 
Likewise. I am a little surprized that anyone sees the temporary formation of tight knit small groups as in any way unusual or Camino specific, particularly when the groups have a shared goal.

And while I more often walked alone than in company, there have been some people that I have walked with that I remain in contact with today. Most of the time, though, I expect other pilgrims I meet to be 'three day friends', to borrow a phrase from @jungleboy
I could have written that about myself... :)
 
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I like walking mostly by myself but enjoy social time with other pilgrims in the evenings. I also stay in all private rooms, so meeting people is sometimes difficult. Luckily I am an introvert so am happy by myself most of the time but I do get to know just a few people at a time for only one or a few days at a time and that works for me. A large “Camino family” never interested me.
 
I agree with MickMac. IME Long term backpackers on a trail have a much more similar set of backgrounds, abilities and goals.
I agree with you. I think its because you are all heading for the same destination. Backpacking hostels etc have people with all sorts of goals and plans. On the Camino, you're all heading for Santiago. For different reasons, but I think the common goal is the link.
 
I think its because you are all heading for the same destination. Backpacking hostels etc have people with all sorts of goals and plans. On the Camino, you're all heading for Santiago. For different reasons, but I think the common goal is the link.
This is interesting to reflect upon, given our other recent thread What makes a Pilgrim. In that thread we discussed the question of whether a person walking in the opposite direction can be considered a pilgrim on the Camino, and whether it goes against the "spirit of the Camino" to distinguish between walkers going in different directions.
 
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Interesting thread. In 2007 on the CF I walked with groups and walked alone. I did hear that dreadful word bed race for the early risers - but there was no concept of a 'Camino Family'.
I tended to (and still do) ask to join up with others when feel I need support (mostly in the early stages) and then let go when that need is met. I am also happy to walk with others when they need support/company and happy to say goodbye when they (or I) think it is time.
The thing l loved most on that first CF was that I could move between groups and people with ease - just letting them know that I would like to walk alone now was all that was needed. And if I asked to walk with someone, "No thank you" was a perfectly good response to them.
I am a child of the 60's (the overland from Aus to UK etc.) and have a sense that due to the world being even more crazy now than then - younger people have a greater need for a sense of belonging and so become very attached to their 'Camino Family'.
 
This I agree with you. I think it’s because you are all heading for the same destination. Backpacking hostels etc have people with all sorts of goals and plans. On the Camino, you're all heading for Santiago. For different reasons, but I think the common goal is the link.
I disagree! Yea of course on a Camino people have a final destination (SDC) and that will have some value in conversations. But I don’t think it really shapes any social dynamics. And of you are backpacking you would be amazed how many people are basically following the same trail. If you are in Cambodia you are going east to west or vice versa, and if you are in Laos or Vietnam you are either going north to south or vice versa. So pretty much people are going where you are going or have been to where you are going.

In truth I see absolutely no difference in the dynamics of the two groups. In fact I see a Camino as pretty much a subset of backpacking! A cheap month, on the move, meeting folks, etc.
 
Groups form everywhere there are people on their own. I'd go a bit further to say that it's more likely to happen if people do have a shared goal and are nervous of their surroundings or far outside their comfort zone
 
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Not going too deep into the "long distance backpacker" discussion except to say that one of the things I treasure about walking Caminos is the way it brings back into my life elements of the experience I treasured when I was doing long distance backpacking in my late teens and twenties, lo those many years ago.

Engaging instead with the discussion of social connections vs solitude in the original post, I can say that I see where Mick is coming from. The social connections with other pilgrims is, for me, one of the most valuable elements of any pilgrimage. Not the only valuable element, to be sure, which is a number of routes at the top of my list of next Caminos to walk are solitary ones, but a not insignificant element. I really appreciated the connections I was making with other pilgrims as my isolation started to disappear on my long Camino last summer - first with one other pilgrim towards the end of the Madrid, then with a small group in the Salvador, then with larger groups on the Primitivo. For some of us who didn't have that strong sense of belonging with our peer groups when young, that sense of belonging can be very much appreciated.

Caminos are very special experiences. But one thing I've learned on my last several Caminos is that they can be even more special when they are shared, whether they are shared with family or friends you bring with you, or with "family" and/or friends you make on the way.
 
I'm a long distance walker, so for me, the Camino's are a European crawl along a well provided infrastructure. The athletic challenge, the nature, the history, the moment in time experienced with people you meet and other intangibles make it a special and unique experience. Every walk in some way has that potential.

Many others people are not habitual walkers, or particularly fit, so undertaking a Camino is for them quite momentous and profound. They very likely have never done anything before like it. They have a lot invested in it, emotionally, physically and financially.

In light of these circumstances, of course they might see their Camino as a high-water event and attach a great deal of significance to it, real or imagined.

We all are travelers on the same road.
 
For some the social aspect of the Camino is important.

For others it isn't.

Both is fine.

What I can say is, that you can walk your solitary walk all alone everywhere. No Camino route or pilgrimage route required for that.

But on the other hand, you can not expect a pilgrim community as for example on the Francés everywhere, on just any other hiking route.



I usually need two weeks to get into the rhythm, and I've also walked over 6000kms of Caminos so far. On my last walk, it took me 1000kms to "warm up".

But that doesn't mean others can't get there more quickly than me. I'm a slow learner apparently. 6k kms and apparently I still haven't arrived...

I certainly wouldn't ridicule others just because they don't have the same experience as me.
I wonder where you got the idea I was ridiculing anyone. You just delineated what your thoughts and your experience is. I was simply doing the same. I also think it is ridiculous that on this forum as well as in life if someone speech or reaction does not fit into the parameters of what they believe is respectful speech or honoring (I still to this day have no idea what the term honoring means in insignificant situations or statements such as this exchange). What I wrote was was completely misunderstood by you and now in your mind I am deemed a reprobate. There was absolutely no intent whatsoever that was denigrating anything or anyone.
But I love writing these responses. What you wrote didn’t anger me because in totality this exchange is completely insignificant but I do entertain myself responding.
If someone isn’t using threatening or hate speech what is the problem?
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
Not all solitude is isolation.

And not all isolation is negative.
True. I prefer solitude to company most of the time. Probably more than most. But that is very much an individual matter and @MickMac seems to have discovered that he leans in the other direction. Equally valid and a useful thing to know for the future.
 
I get the back-packer/pilgrim analogy. Swinging lazily in a hammock, idly chatting to like-minded people. Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen playing softly as dusk came and candles were lit. Not Kuta Beach (Bali) in 1975, but the Caminho Portugues in 2023. Took me right back.
But not in the morning plodding alone uphill, enjoying the birdsong and thinking about the glories of Santiago.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Something I’ve never thought about until just now is the difference in the terms I use for the social groups that form in these two situations. I must say I don’t really love the term ‘camino family’, but it certainly implies a tight-knit group. For backpacking, my wife and I often refer to other travellers we meet as ‘three-day friends’ — people you might spend time with in a certain city, but then often you go your separate ways and may or may not maintain contact with them afterwards. It certainly implies a looser connection but it’s true that in some cases we have developed lasting friendships with people who started out as ‘three-day friends’.
I've belonged to two Camino families.

The first was (and to a degree still is) dysfunctional, three of us started, two more joined, three of us jumped ship back to France at one point, two of us who did so came back onto the Camino very quickly, and the three who started became one plus two others who ended, minus the one whom we couldn't put up with any more. And of those of us who didn't stick with us, one finished that year anyway, two finished via a trip to France and back again, and the third who took a trip back to France walked from Le Puy a couple of years later. Only Connie the German girl stuck through from day one of our meeting. One started with us but finished alone. And yes, that is just five people total. o_O

The second was more ad hoc in the beginning, and we came together mainly because of a circumstance of the 3 + 2 of us being bloody fast, plus the evening we met, we were super relaxed and ate and drank well, but also significantly being all of us individually loyal to the Way. There was actually an original group of three, but then Anton and I ended up having an identical walking rhythm and liking each other, and then we were roughly as fast as the other three -- so we became a 3 + 2 semi-detached Camino Family. The young girl with us at one point decided that the rest of us were too slow, and chose to walk ahead. The rest of us would not have it ; so the day after she had moved on ahead, the four of us walked a 50K (including O Cebreiro) then variously coming upon her at day's end according to our walking speeds, just : "hello" "how are you ?". :) No blame, just (implicitly) if you need to walk faster, then so will we. She was ashamed in the moment, but our "no comment" attitude led her to eventually realise that we simply liked her that much and softened her greatly. In part, that three of us (including her) could walk faster than the two others -- wasn't about her, but that the two "slower" walkers that we had were great people, and worth slowing down from 35-40K/day for. Because both of them could also step up to a 50K to keep us together at need. That was a good group !!
 
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I wonder where you got the idea I was ridiculing anyone. You just delineated what your thoughts and your experience is. I was simply doing the same. I also think it is ridiculous that on this forum as well as in life if someone speech or reaction does not fit into the parameters of what they believe is respectful speech or honoring (I still to this day have no idea what the term honoring means in insignificant situations or statements such as this exchange). What I wrote was was completely misunderstood by you and now in your mind I am deemed a reprobate. There was absolutely no intent whatsoever that was denigrating anything or anyone.
But I love writing these responses. What you wrote didn’t anger me because in totality this exchange is completely insignificant but I do entertain myself responding.
If someone isn’t using threatening or hate speech what is the problem?

I think this is a misunderstanding.

I am not an english native speaker and do make a mess sometimes with understanding as well as putting things in words. So I miss subtleties in many ways, reading and writing.

It was this part of what you wrote which I commented on:

I am amazed when people walk just 5 or 6 days and are bursting with joy over how much their camino was a life changing, profound experience. Maybe it was but to me this sounds ridiculous.

All I wanted to say as a reply to that is, that I do not find it ridiculous at all that someone can have a life changing experience within 5 or 6 days - even though my own experience is very different. Sometimes a single moment is all it needs to change a life, I guess.

I am sure you did not really mean to truly ridicule someone, nor did I say that your experience of walking and preference of how you walk is wrong. Not at all.

It is just the word "ridiculous" that I found a bit sad in the context of judging someone else's experience.

I think it is a harsh word to put on someone else's joy, even if my own experience is very different from theirs. But maybe I understand the term "ridiculous" completely wrong in the given context.

I certainly do not deem you a "reprobate" in any way.

Apologies.
 
I think this is a misunderstanding.

I am not an english native speaker and do make a mess sometimes with understanding as well as putting things in words. So I miss subtleties in many ways, reading and writing.

It was this part of what you wrote which I commented on:



All I wanted to say as a reply to that is, that I do not find it ridiculous at all that someone can have a life changing experience within 5 or 6 days - even though my own experience is very different. Sometimes a single moment is all it needs to change a life, I guess.

I am sure you did not really mean to truly ridicule someone, nor did I say that your experience of walking and preference of how you walk is wrong. Not at all.

It is just the word "ridiculous" that I found a bit sad in the context of judging someone else's experience.

I think it is a harsh word to put on someone else's joy, even if my own experience is very different from theirs. But maybe I understand the term "ridiculous" completely wrong in the given context.

I certainly do not deem you a "reprobate" in any way.

Apologies.
Apology accepted and I understand your misunderstanding. The word ridiculous was meant entirely for and to me. I, like you need time to get into my rhythm of walking, of emptying my mind if all the garbage that has accumulated in my brain over the months after my last Camino. I need weeks of quiet and peace and to give thanks that the Camino has allowed me to walk on its path. Buen Camino
How is this description:
It is beyond my limited comprehension to think I could have a life changing Camino experience in only 6 or 7 days of walking 🚶‍♀️ :):)
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
Another aspect that hasn’t been mentioned is the general travel and life experiences that pilgrims have had prior to the Camino.

Many that I encountered had never had the opportunity to backpack in SE Asia, hike the Pacific Crest Trail or travel at all. They lived in the same place all their lives and spent their time in school and then were busy raising families and earning money to support them. Maybe they have never been to Europe or scarcely left their own countries. The adventure of going to Spain by themselves for weeks is far, far beyond their comfort zone.

Their reactions to the Camino experience is going to be very different than those among us who, while we relish the Camino, have a context in which to put it. Some of them are going to be very ‘clingy’ and needy of a group to belong to. Some are going to be cliquey because of their own insecurities. Some are going to gush after a few days that it is the most amazing thing they have ever done because, uhm, it is the most amazing thing that they have ever done.
 
Another aspect that hasn’t been mentioned is the general travel and life experiences that pilgrims have had prior to the Camino.

Many that I encountered had never had the opportunity to backpack in SE Asia, hike the Pacific Crest Trail or travel at all. They lived in the same place all their lives and spent their time in school and then were busy raising families and earning money to support them. Maybe they have never been to Europe or scarcely left their own countries. The adventure of going to Spain by themselves for weeks is far, far beyond their comfort zone.

Their reactions to the Camino experience is going to be very different than those among us who, while we relish the Camino, have a context in which to put it. Some of them are going to be very ‘clingy’ and needy of a group to belong to. Some are going to be cliquey because of their own insecurities. Some are going to gush after a few days that it is the most amazing thing they have ever done because, uhm, it is the most amazing thing that they have ever done.
Esperanza just a little bit condescending and facetious, using words like "Clingy" "Needy" "Cliquey" "Gush" "Insecure" to dicribe pilgrims.

Pilgrims walk for many differing reasons like recovering Cancer patients, bereaved, Troubled minds, trying to find some relief from their day to day tough existence.

Some come from many different backgrounds and life experiences, dismissively putting people into your specific dismissive small box, must leave your mind open as you walk the SE Asia and your pacific crest.,.

Personally having been brought up through a civil war and experienced many life threatening experiences might disqualify me from your closed dismissive mind and context your sarcastic and narcissistic post is not to your credit.
 
Esperanza just a little bit condescending and facetious, using words like "Clingy" "Needy" "Cliquey" "Gush" "Insecure" to dicribe pilgrims.
your closed dismissive mind and context your sarcastic and narcissistic post is not to your credit.
I think you are being harsh and unfair to @Esperanza . I think she was trying to describe the reasons why some people might seem to have certain needs or reactions - i.e. because of lack of experience. Isn't that the same point you made? Don't be so quick to a harsh and hurtful criticism of a fellow forum member.
 
€2,-/day will present your project to thousands of visitors each day. All interested in the Camino de Santiago.
I think you are being harsh and unfair to @Esperanza . I think she was trying to describe the reasons why some people might seem to have certain needs or reactions - i.e. because of lack of experience. Isn't that the same point you made? Don't be so quick to a harsh and hurtful criticism of a fellow forum member.
It was his dismissive choice of language I think his words were hurtful to forum members and dismissive of pilgrims motives.
 
I disagree! Yea of course on a Camino people have a final destination (SDC) and that will have some value in conversations. But I don’t think it really shapes any social dynamics. And of you are backpacking you would be amazed how many people are basically following the same trail. If you are in Cambodia you are going east to west or vice versa, and if you are in Laos or Vietnam you are either going north to south or vice versa. So pretty much people are going where you are going or have been to where you are going.
One of the unexpected delights of long-term backpacking for me was learning from all the people who had come from the general direction I was going. When I left for my long trip, I had never heard of Kashmir. But by the third time someone in a hostel said to me, “if you are heading to India, you *must* go to Kashmir,” I made sure I did. And it still ranks as the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.

The Camino isn’t like that, because indeed you are all headed one way. You may learn about a variant along the way, but the essence of the trip stays the same. I would say, however, that this forum provides something akin to that randomness of the long backpack journey - one usually pops in knowing about the Frances and seeking advice, but then starts reading about the Norte and the Invierno, and then Le Puy and … all of a sudden, you’ve got a new destination of sorts.
 
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It was his dismissive choice of language I think his words were hurtful to forum members and dismissive of pilgrims motives.
I would be interested in why you think that the words @Esperanza used might be hurtful. I know that I might have used similar words myself describing some pilgrims I have observed over the years, although I might not have necessarily taken the step of suggesting that there was some causal relationship to them being new pilgrims. That said, there might be other factors at play here, and words that you would find less offensive, but I think her observations are still valid.
 
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I would be interested in why you think that the words @Esperanza used might be hurtful. I know that I might have used similar words myself describing some pilgrims I have observed over the years, although I might not have necessarily taken the step of suggesting that there was some causal relationship to them being new pilgrims. That said, there might be other factors at play here, and words that you would find less offensive, but I think her observations are still valid.
Doug before this post is stopped using words like "Clingy" "Needy" "Cliquey" "Gush" "Insecure"
to describe pilgrims and forum members is pretty offensive description of pilgrims and forum members who decide to walk in small like minded groups.

If you choose to use these terms that is your valid choice.
I have made my contribution many thanks.
 
@MickMac

Wow. You have certainly misinterpreted my comments. I was addressing topics and echoing words that other posters had used, and I apologize that you found them offensive. What I said came from compassion for those who have not had a lot of privileges and opportunities, not at all from any feeling of superiority. That they have had different life experiences - and that it can affect their reactions to being on the Camino - is simply an observation. I did not mean to add any judgement to it. You didn’t care for my choice of words. Point taken.

I hope that we can agree that there is a huge variety of people walking the Camino, and we need to be tolerant and demonstrate understanding of our differences.

As for the rest of your mischaracterizations of me, all I wish to say is this: I have never said anything deliberately hurtful or insulting or demeaning to any member of this forum. Unfortunately, you cannot say the same.

ETA: I would like to clarify that I did not suggest that all pilgrims who join a Camino family are needy or insecure. Most certainly are not. A few are, especially those who act like has been described upthread, and that is who I was referencing.
 
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If you choose to use these terms that is your valid choice.
I may not have made it clear that they mightn't have been my choice of words, but that I have observed behaviours that might be interpreted that way. You have made it clear that you don't like these terms, but you haven't said why, even when given the opportunity to do so. Nor have you suggested what alternative terms you might prefer. The opportunity is still there.

However, given your obvious sensitivity, I was amazed by this remark:
pretty offensive description of pilgrims and forum members
If there is any 'pretty offensive description' then I suggest this takes the cake:
It was his dismissive choice of language I think his words were hurtful to forum members and dismissive of pilgrims motives.
Despite several attempts by myself and others to hint at you that 'her' was the appropriate pronoun, you blithely ignored that and used the masculine pronoun nonetheless. I suggest your credibility as an arbiter of what is offensive has significantly declined.
 
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I have enjoyed reading many posts over time by both @Esperanza and also @MickMac. When I read her post #37, I was a bit surprised and did find the negative adjectives she used to describe various personality stereotypes of pilgrims to be rather off-putting. I do agree MM overreacted, but the outcome was somewhat positive in the fact it provided an opportunity for Esperanza to better clarify her intent and use of the words.
 
The social aspect is worthy of discussion, but comradery and groups are not unique to the Camino.

Some groups are open, but many become insular and cliquish. It’s understandable how the insularity happens as the numbers increase after Leon, but I’ve seen it as early as Navarre.

It was a joy to meet our first group who were younger, diverse and welcoming. The second group we met, shortly after Pamplona, were insular and self-absorbed. Being practically pushed out of the kitchen was neither comfortable nor kind. That evening I realized that it was the kindness of others that makes the Camino what it is.

Fortunately, on that same Camino we met groups who decided to walk shorter stages to enable a ‘new’ friend to recover from an injury.

Flexibility, openness, welcoming, and, above all else, kindness are what make a ‘true’ Camino experience.

Always be kind.
 
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It is interesting the dynamics of the Camino . Firstly rather than family it would be more accurate to say tribes form as you progress but it is situational . If you start from a point where most people are beginning it forms quite quickly and I feel initially it is a support for many . The Camino for most first timers is a very alien experience and if they experience difficulties the tribe is a great support to them . It can also be very exclusive though, I remember in Los Arcos seeing two large groups in the square sitting next to each other but having zero interaction . This was not deliberate its just they were focused on their tribe and not willing to break out to talk to others easily , a missed opportunity I believe . Don't get me wrong I love the social interaction with others from all walks of life and ages and for me it is the reason I will be walking the Frances again in April . As to be life changing for many it is their first time away from their 'Real world" and being free to just focus on where they are . As my wife said it was the first time she totally emptied her mind . I agree with a previous poster that you can find kindness, it seems strange but that was the revelation for me how important it was to receive and give kindness. A game changer in my life !
 
One of the unexpected delights of long-term backpacking for me was learning from all the people who had come from the general direction I was going. When I left for my long trip, I had never heard of Kashmir. But by the third time someone in a hostel said to me, “if you are heading to India, you *must* go to Kashmir,” I made sure I did. And it still ranks as the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.

The Camino isn’t like that, because indeed you are all headed one way. You may learn about a variant along the way, but the essence of the trip stays the same. I would say, however, that this forum provides something akin to that randomness of the long backpack journey - one usually pops in knowing about the Frances and seeking advice, but then starts reading about the Norte and the Invierno, and then Le Puy and … all of a sudden, you’ve got a new destination of sorts.
I remember the same from the backpacking days of my youth. I still have my 1982 Let's Go Europe (in terrible condition) filled with all sorts of annotations scribbled in by fellow travelers who had been where I was going.

As you say, on the Camino we're all headed in the same direction. But in these days of people walking the Camino multiple times (guilty as charged) it isn't farfetched to imagine that one can still learn from fellow travelers who have been where you are going, even if they, too are headed in the same direction, headed back to where they've been before.
 
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