Hi Todd - what do you meaqn by commercialisation? Churches and buildings sympathetically rebuilt at vast expense to respond to the silent desire of the pilgrim to enter an 'authentic' religious space? Or 'pope soap on a rope'?
As the numbers of pilgrims has increased almost exponentially in the last few years you would expect more refuges to open, more items that pilgrims need and want but didn't bring to be sold - unfortunately, also more wolves prowling the edges looking for the weak (actually, in our modern day, perhaps I should say 'gullible'?).
I've never yet been to a religious site/shrine/etc that wasn't surrounded by commercial products but I have always assumed that this is just humans doing what humans do and has that heady scent of the exotic (well, for me anyway).
So, do you mean that you think that there was once a 'purity' to the pilgrimage but that you are concerned that this may now have been lost? Don't forget Chaucer and the Canterbury Tales ..
well it is a fact that the daily necessities (food, toiletpaper, coffee and the like) are more expensive when you do your shopping on the Frances route compared to shops 5km away from the route.
Also the amount of walkingsticks, shells and other assorted souvenirs you can buy on the way has exploded the last 10 yrs.
So yeah in that sense the route is 'commercialized'.
But all that has no impact on the actual walking, so it doesn't matter really.
I'm amazed about talk of internet access and washing machines on the CF-on the vdlp I found 1 albergue with internet-none had washing machines. Internet was scarce except in the 4/5 major towns-sounds like the CF spoils you!
In the late nineteenth century, Galician Countess, Emilia Pardo Bazan, a well known writer in Spanish and Gallego languages, wrote a short story called "The Pilgrim," recently posted in a Spanish language, Santiago related, cyber forum. In it, Pardo Bazan commented about how much pilgrimages had changed through the ages. She said that, during her time, pilgrims had gotten into going to Compostela by coach, to Rome by train, staying in hotels and taverns, sleeping on warm beds, and dinning on tables with artificial flowers and gas lamps.
I can imagine that when electricity and phone lines hit the Caminos, they must have been quite an upgrade, then. Maybe even caused an uproar among Camino purists. Obviously by now, all have calmed down, and here we are, deriving the benefits, and we take them so much for granted...
Today we comfortably fly to wherever we want to start walking to Compostela from, and don't think twice about it. Way back then, it took pilgrims months, if they made it alive, to reach Santiago, by foot, horse, and/or a combination, plus whatever transportation was/became available. Let's not forget that they had to return the same way.
I cannot-have to fly back home from my Camino this summer two days prior to going back to work, darn it!
We take so much for granted.
Hey, I don’t complain…
Last summer I was ecstatic when, after a hard, hot, walk, on the Camino Aragones, I reached the albergue at Monreal and was able to wash my clothes in a washing machine that worked (that’s something else, don’t automatically assume when you read that there are electric appliances at a given place, they work). Now, I had a choice, I could have washed them by hand as I had done in previous refugios. But, no matter how well I washed clothes by hand, they would never, and I mean never, come out as clean and smell as well as when machine-washed.
Heck no, I ain’t complaining! Pampering oneself has a history of its own, why spoil it?