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The big map o the Caminos de Santiago

Characters on the camino

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
#1
Looking at my Credential stamps reminded me of some of the well known characters on the Camino Frances. If you are walking it for the first time, you might like some background on some of the special people you will meet along the way.

D Santiago Zubiri Elizade: This gregarious mayor of Larrasoana chats to each pilgrim and has a business card with “Amigo del Camino de Santiago” printed on it.

Felisia: The stamp reads, “Felisia – Higos-Aqua y Amor” (Figs, water and love.) Maria, Felisa’s daughter now sits at the rickety table outside a ramshackle farmhouse on the way to Logroño with a stamp pad to give sellos. On the table are two old dishes, one containing figs and the other for donations. Felisa died in October 2002 at the age of 92 but her stamp is still one of the most sought after on the camino.

Marcelino Lobato: One of the most photographed peregrinos in Spain, he walked his first Camino in the Holy Year of 1976 and was one of only 6 pilgrims who were issued with a Compostela that year. In the 1980’s he helped D Elias Valiña Sampedro to mark the camino with yellow arrows. This son of Rioja who has written 5 books on the camino, has walked over 130,000kms across France, Spain and Italy in his medieval robes, wide hat, staff and gourds. He has his ‘office’ on the edge of the La Grajera forest outside Logrono and greets pilgrims with offers of fruit, biscuits and walking sticks and a sign that says, no donations please. You will see a poster of him in his medieval robes in nearly every cafe bar on the camino.

Arturo: Hospitalero at Granon who runs the albergue, which is in the bell tower of a 16th C church, like an extended family, everyone chipping in to help cook and clean.

D. Jose Maria Alonso: The priest and San Juan de Ortega who might invite you to a meal of garlic soup and spiritual advice about the camino journey.

Tomás Martínez de Paz: aka Tomás-the-Templar. A quixotic character who was an ordinary middle-class citizen (albeit he had some history of being a subversive) living in Madrid with his family until about 25 years ago. Then one night he had a dream epiphany and left Madrid to build the pilgrim refuge at Manjarin on the Irago Mountain. He proclaims to be the last of the Knights Templars and is devoted to caring for pilgrims.

Jesus Jato: He and his family have been caring for pilgrims at Villafranca del Bierzo for 30 years. If you are lucky, you might be a part of his ‘queimada’ a ceremony that includes a flaming concoction of alcohol and honey, designed to protect pilgrims from thieves, blisters and other demons of the road.

D. Elias Vilas Sampedro: Died in 1990 but it is worth visiting his bronze bust in the church garden at O’Cebreiro. He was the priest who worked tirelessly to re-animate the almost forgotten camino and who painted the yellow arrows with paint scrounged from the roads department.

(If anyone else would like to add to this list, please do!)
 

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omar504

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016,2017,2018
#2
Sil
Hope you mean characters other than 'official' type ones which you have mentioned. Mine are a bit mundane but I do recall being surprised to meet a dutch couple out of Le Puy. She only agreed to marriage if he agreed to walk to SDC-with their 8 month old baby. Both were slightly built but carried full camping equipment,tent and baby needs. He carried about 20kg plus he used a very long scarf to tie the baby to his chest. We saw each other over the weeks and in SDC we met again and they were intending to continue to Finisterre-one day behind me.
The other couple also dutch were doing the camino on little scooters-they certainly looked odd zooming down the road crouched down on their scooters. By scooters I don't mean the powered ones I mean the ones where you propel yourself by putting one foot on the road.
Of course there were many others who were interesting but the above examples were certainly interesting.
By the way Sil-you've certainly changed judging by your photo!
 

marktqm

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2006)
#3
Does anybody know the name of the old man who welcomes pilgrims to Boadilla del Camino? He wears a name plate on his shirt but I regret not having taken his photo when I met him by the fountain where you turn the wheel and water comes out.
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
#4
Hi Omar,
I actually meant the characters that live, work, devote their lives to the camino that pilgrims can expect to meet when they walk their camino - like Tomas, Jesus Jato, Marcelino etc. Somewhat like human monuments! (I didn't mean other pilgrims or interesting people one met as a once off occurrence.)
 

Deirdre

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés (2007), Camino Francés (2008), Camino Portugués (2010), Camino Aragonés - from Lourdes (2012)
#5
Hi Omar,
We must have been on the Camino at the came time in 2007! I met the Dutch couple with the 8 month old cherubic baby in Grañon for the first time and then saw them again in Ribadiso. The couple on the scooters I met over cafe in Portmarín! They were indeed characters. I arrived in SdC on Aug 18, 2007.
Happy New Year,
 

vinotinto

Active Member
#6
Did anyone who walked the Frances route this summer see the loopy guy who performed for money? He was dressed like someone out of a Mad Max movie, had a large crow feather stuck through (yes, through) his ear - along with a large wooden clapper hanging from the lobe, a skin-tight tiger stripe vest, and sucking a baby pacifier? He showed up in the small one-bar town where the donativo albergue is in the convent next to a church.

After his strange, disjointed performance (which mainly consisted of him throwing some sort of contraption up in the air and catching it), he passed around a plate for Euros. At least the kids liked him, but the mothers were certainly on their guard when he was around. He acted so odd, and smelled so bad, that they wouldn't let him into the albergue, so he slept outside under the trees.

Indeed, the whole village was a character in itself. I called it the "Twin Peaks" of the Camino...a number of oddball things happened while I was there. But at least the bar had some of the best food on the Way - and cheap to boot... :arrow:
 

Trudy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2006) Roncesvalles to Leon (2007) Leon to Compostela
#7
Hi Sil, what a terrific list. There are so many wonderful people along the Camino, and mostly we either don't know their names or even see them:

such as the person at San Miguel del Camino (I think) just outside Leon who leaves a basket of biscuits and lollies for pilgrims;

and the village a few kms before Portomarin where a table is set out with cans of soft drink, beer, flasks of coffee, tea, and water is provided, for a donation. Someone told me this was provided by a South African who had moved to this village.

Three particular people come to mind:

James from Moratinos, a British man who had moved there with his family, and was providing tea and coffee to pilgrims in the main street. Think I heard he was no longer allowed to do this which is a shame. Does anyone know if he's still there?

The parish priest at Carrion de los Condes, who gave the most wonderful, spiritual, pilgrim blessing in the sacristy after evening mass. It lasted over 1/2 hour and everyone was able to participate in a number of different languages.

The elderly warden at Mansilla de las Mulas who, apart from being a very friendly, helpful, person, is very proud of his geraniums in the courtyard.

Trudy
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Jul-Aug 05, Frances, Jul-Aug 06, Portugues, Oct 2010
#8
Trudy said:
such as the person at San Miguel del Camino (I think) just outside Leon who leaves a basket of biscuits and lollies for pilgrims;

Trudy
His name is Agapito, he has a message on a whiteboard on the wall of his house, telling pilgrims to help themselves to whatever's in the basket, directing to the nearest drinkable water fountain, and there's also a newspaper clipping about him. It's signed "Agapito, Amigo del pelegrino."
 
#10
Hey,

I likewise remember the two Dutch couples - my family is Dutch and so I can group them with many other incredible and quirky Nederlanders. And I'm not sure if I'm thinking of the right man in Boadilla, but if it's the man who runs the private albergue with his family, he's Hugo, and I found him pretty funny myself! He let everyone come in to choose a bed, shower and get off of their feet for a few minutes before paying. He called me 'Canada' all afternoon, and was using a Tim Horton's coffee canister to collect payments! Only other Canadians will understand how ridiculous that seems.

Erin
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
#11
Thanks for adding to the list of memorable characters on the camino.
the village a few kms before Portomarin where a table is set out with cans of soft drink, beer, flasks of coffee, tea, and water is provided, for a donation. Someone told me this was provided by a South African who had moved to this village.
The casa, named "Banderas" - because of the flags draped over the walls - was bought by Gordon and Judy Bell from Cape Town in 2005. They started putting out drinks for passing pilgrims and soon after had a visit from the police as someone had complained. They found no wrongdoing and so the honesty cool-box remains. You can read more here: http://www.casabanderas.com/
 

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#12
marktqm said:
Does anybody know the name of the old man who welcomes pilgrims to Boadilla del Camino? He wears a name plate on his shirt but I regret not having taken his photo when I met him by the fountain where you turn the wheel and water comes out.
I believe his name is Alejandro and is also known as the kissing bandit. Many female pilgrims may remember this little man as he greets and gives women the traditional 2 Spanish kisses on each check, but then will try for a third in between!

Does anyone know the name of the tiny little "crepe lady" in Fonfria (after the Alto do Poio) who hears you coming and comes running out of nowhere to offer you a plate of crepes. If you accept, be prepared to give a "donation".

Great list!
 

Deirdre

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés (2007), Camino Francés (2008), Camino Portugués (2010), Camino Aragonés - from Lourdes (2012)
#13
I met the crepe lady as well! We chatted for awhile in Spanish and when I told her I was from the US she didn't believe me! She told me my Spanish was too good - flattery, of course... but I did give her a nice "donation" for the crepes. :lol: But I dont' remember her name.... :roll:
 

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