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Danger for woman alone?

#1
I am a bit freaked out after reading a few accounts of women being accosted and even assaulted along the Camino Frances. I know the numbers are small and the issue probably not statistically significant but...........Do you think I need to be overly concerned? or even concerned? I have read all the advice about precautions including suspicious people, food and drinks, carrying a whistle etc. I am planning to walk in Sept on my own and believe this will be a fairly active time along the way. Does anyone have any advice or helpful encouragement for me. I am really doing this trip to confront my fears about being alone - recently widowed - and am committed to living full life as a single person.

the stories have taken me back to all of my youthful nightmares about the dark and strange scary men which is really not the paradigm I am interested in. I would like to quell this concern, but also be smart about my travel plans as well. Thoughts from all of you well travelled pilgrims or would be pilgrims would be appreciated!!

Maggee
 

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lckgj

Active Member
#2
Hi Maggee.

I understand your concern. You are taking a big step into the unkown. However, I want to reassure you that you really do not have anything to worry about. The camino frances is very popular in September and you will not actually be on your own unless you want to be. If you want there will be other singles with whom you can team up with on the first few days in order to reassure each other until you start to relax and gain confidence. If you set off from the albergue at 7.30ish you will usually always have someone in sight both ahead and behind you. I never heard of anyone having any problems.

Several times other pilgrims have approached me and asked if we could walk together- particularly when I walked in November and the route was much quieter. Usually you just end up walking with people you have chatted to in the albergue or met en route.

Once you arrive these fears will subside almost immediately but I understand that this is hard to believe!

One piece of advice might be to try to stay in albergues rather than in pensions whenever possible. The albergues are great places to meet up with fellow pilgrims and you soon start to accumulate a network of familiar faces and new friends. If you are slighly nervous then seeing familiar friendly faces en route will probably be reassurring for you. Also in the albergues you are more likely to meet up with people either to eat out with or cook with in the albergue so you wont face the prospect of eating alone.

You are doing a very brave thing so be a little more brave and don't be too reserved to approach people.

Have a fabulous trip and report back just how safe you found it.

Buen Camino!

Laura
 

viajero

Active Member
#3
Hi Maggee,
I am an American woman who lived in Spain several years ago. I have never felt safer anywhere than I have in Spain. Although there is theft, pick pocketing, etc. (not so much on the Camino but in general) in Spain, there is little violent crime. I walked the Camino Frances on my own in March of this year and had a wonderful time. People here in the USA asked if I was worried about safety. My reply was an unequivocal, "no." Although I walked on my own, I met wonderful new friends. I enjoyed walking on my own so usually we would all set off on our own with plans of where we would meet up that day. Some days we walked together. It was all great. In fact, next spring I am planning to walk the Camino Portugues with these new friends. I am a worrier and worried a lot about not being able to walk so far, about blisters, sore feet, my pack's weight, etc. but I never worried about safety. The other things proved to be non-issues as well. I had a glorious walk with no problems. I hope you can put the safety worries out of your mind. Buen Camino!
 

ksam

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Portuguese '08, Frances '11, del Norte '14, Invierno '16, Ingles '17, Primitivo October 2018
#4
Magee thank you for posting your concerns....We just did the Portuguese route and met several women traveling alone. They often paired up...or walked with others ... and sometimes alone..and we did all look out for each other!

I'm thinking of going alone sometime in the next year or two...and have/had similar concerns...and it's good to hear that I am not alone (in worrying!) and that others who have done it would do it again!

The people there are very kind, generous and it's a wonderful experience! I would recommend travel in Spain over...a lot of other places I've been!! Truly!

Wishing you all the best,
Buen Camino,
Karin
 
#5
Thanks so much for the great and ressuring comments that I received within one day of posting my worry about walking the Camino Frances on my own in Sept. I realize this is also an opportunity to put myself out there and meet new people as a way of developing community and I so appreciate the personal assurances from other women who have travelled this route so recently.
A big thanks to you all - and I do feel better
Maggee :D
 

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alipilgrim

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2005), Frances (2007), Madrid/Frances (2011), 1/2 VdP (2012),
#6
Maggee, I'm another single woman who walked the Camino and never once did I have a problem. I must admit I enjoyed the solitude of walking alone because there was so much interaction available at the albergues and at meals that one weighed out the other. Also, there are so many pilgrims on the Caminos these days that although you might walk alone and not see anyone on the horizon - if you stop for 10 mins you're almost guaranteed to have someone pass you by! (at least on the Frances) Reassuring to know that others are just around the corner. And don't forget, the locals in this part of Spain are some of the kindest, most genuine souls. And I must say many depend now on the Camino for keeping their little towns alive, so they also do not want anything bad to happen to anyone. There is a network looking out for you! (and every other pilgrim!). Go, and let this not be one of the weights that you carry....
 
#7
¿Any danger?

In my opinion, not more danger than in London, New York or Paris.

I mean, much less danger than in any normal city.

Don't worry about that and enjoy your Camino,

Buen Camino,

Javier Martin
Madrid, Spain.
 

KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
#8
I have just arrived home after nearly three months on the Le Puy route, then on the Camino Frances. I am a single woman and I felt very safe on the whole walk. In Spain you might feel you are sometimes walking alone, but if you stop for ten minutes, you will soon realise how many others are nearby! Also, as a woman walking alone, I found that the men walking were quite often quite protective, in the nicest of ways, and they would quietly check that I was OK. And I found that a real 'community' of walkers existed, one of the special aspects of the walk.
Margaret
 

kmj

New Member
#9
Hi Maggee,

I'm a single woman planning on doing the Camino by myself in September too. It seems that there are lots of men and women who have done a solo Camino with no problems at all. Some of my friends think I am crazy though! :D I've read up on this quite a bit and feel pretty comfortable venturing out alone--as others have said, we will have company available whenever we desire it. I also spent a year abroad in Spain during college and felt safer there than I do at home in the US!

Maybe I will see you out there!

Best wishes,

Kristen
 
#10
Many women begin the journey alone. You likely will walk alone if you choose to but you will never be truly alone. Quite quickly, mostly from friendships struck up while in the albergues, you will accumulate an extended family of friends who will be with you on most of the journey and, at the journey's end, discover that you have made some friends who may endure for a lifetime. Don't worry. Just go!
 

Artemis

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2006, Camino Portuguese 2009
#11
I can almost promise that you won't be walking alone unless you choose to. I started out with my sister but after she injured her knee and had to take a bus I continued on my own. By the end of the day I had run into a woman and her dog I had met before and walked with them for awhile. Then I met a nice French Canadian woman who asked if I wanted to walk with her. After a few days she injured her back and we took a wild ride in an ambulance together. She was told to rest for a couple of days so I was walking alone again but for only about an hour because a group of Spanish people adopted me even though I couldn't speak Spanish and they couldn't speak English. You meet people and may walk together for an hour or a week depending on how you feel.
You will probably meet pilgrims in SJPP and walk with them for awhile. It is like a wonderful dance of people coming together and parting and then magically coming together again.
It is going to be wonderful so please don't be afraid. I felt safe every step of the way.
 
#13
Are there any women interested in walking May 2009? I am planning a two week trip from Roncesvalles. First I thought I would take a trip with Spanish Steps but they are expensive, although I am sure they are worth it. Then I thought maybe I will go this alone or find others interested in walking the road.

Glad to hear the road is safe. Love to hear from all.

Maria
 
#14
Even if you go alone you will meet many others.... then you can decide when you want to walk alone and when not. Every possibility will present itself.
have fun!
Lillian
 

joy

New Member
#15
Hola Maggee,
Joy here from Cape Town.
I reiterate all that has been said up to now! In 2006 when walking from St jean, we were experiencing a heatwave and I used to start out an hour before sunrise with my head torch on and feel safe. During that September, it was uncrowded but, as said, if you stopped for a short while, someone would come along.
I hope within a short while of experiencing being part of this "spiritual slipstream", you will feel relaxed, safe and let go of all anxiety. It is a unique moving community of caring folk walking for different reasons but with a common spirit of intent.
Buen Camino!
Joy
 
#16
I am just starting my Camino, and have had 2 sighting of the same naked man, masterbating in front of me. This was on either side of Arcos, in the forest, just before lunch. I ran back to a side road, and was fortunate to experience the kindness of some locals, who called the police, who did not seem very interested. They were going to do a drive through to check it out. This man obviously knew the route, and was waiting for me for the second time. Apparently he was spotted in Vilharino as well, if itºs the same man.

So, now I am wondering if there is anyone near this route to join. I have yet to run into any other pilgrims...Otherwise I will have to avoid all quiet areas and off roads, or just take the bus to Santiago. I feel sick about this, and foolish to think I could do this on my own. Is there anyone nearby whom I could join? This was one of my worst fears, and I really donºt want it to spoil my journey. I will check on line later tonight to see if anyone is around.
 

viajero

Active Member
#17
Perhaps when you get to the next albergue--in a popular (end of stage) place: Logrono, Najera, Santo Domingo, you will meet up with other pilgrims who I"m sure would be willing to walk with you. I suspect there will have to be other pilgrims at the albergues, but if not, I 'm sure you could stay a day or two until others arrive.
I know this has upset you and has made you uneasy. If I were in the USA (I'm an American) I would be completely undone by this. It should hold that I should feel the same anywhere in the world but Spain is really so much safer. I don't think this will happen to you again and I think you did the right thing. I want you to feel comforatable and safe continuing on your own. We have so much violent crime in the U.S. and I would feel very threatened here by this. It sounds like this man is out for a cheap thrill. I think he can upset you but I don't think he would harm you. It may not seem like this now but the Camino is a safe place.
 

KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
#18
Canadian peregrino,
I am very sorry to hear about what you have experienced. I had an experience like this in 2006 walking in Switzerland, so I know the kind of fear you are experiencing while walking alone.

Are you staying in the albergues? If you can find someone you feel comfortable with, and you are able to explain what happened to you, I am sure they will be more than happy to walk with you for a day or two. This man is highly unlikely to be brave enough to do the same thing to a group of people, especially if you are walking with a man in the group. Chances are also that he does not venture too far from home, so chances are that you have 'out-walked' him already.

I know your fear..... I know I was terrified when the same happened to me, and I did not lose the fear for a long time. But I hope you are able to find people nearby who will walk with you, so you can continue. These events are not common on the Camino.

All the best
Margaret
 

lckgj

Active Member
#19
How distressing for you. Sadly there are a handful of weirdos everywhere in the world.

I am surprised you are on your own with no other pilgrims to hand and agree with Margaret that you should aim for the nearest albergue where hopefully you will find walking companions. The hospitalero wiil perhaps be helpful in contacting the authorities again on your behalf - clearly this man has to be found and stopped.

Whilst you are unlikely to encounter any more problems I am sure the fear will not leave you very quickly. Do you carry a whistle? And a mobile? Both these things might help to put you at your ease. Ask for the number of the police to have on speedcall on your phone. Do things that help you to regain control. Someone suggested that pointing and laughing is a good way to put these people off but I'm not sure that I would have the presence of mind to do that under the circumstances.The fact this man is targeting a lone person suggests he is not keen to draw attention to himself so how about getting your camera out?

I really hope that the next we hear from you is that you have found the support you need from fellow pilgrims and that you have found the courage to continue to Santiago. Be strong and be safe. Try not to let one sad individual spoil a magical journey for you.

Buen Camino
Laura
 
#20
Take a picture of the man!
Do not stop walking because of this man. Organize yourself somehow. I would think walking with others would be good, especially if you are feeling unsafe. He will not walk all the way to Santiago.
Lillian
 
#21
Yes, take a picture of him. And then, go to the police.

Several years ago I met a nice and young spanish girl in Rabanal, frightened because something similar. In her first walking day. She was only 25 and very pretty. We said to her that it wasn't normal and since then she walked in a group with us, until Santiago.

Early she saw she had had very bad luck, it's not normal something like that.

Buen Camino,

Javier Martin
Madrid, Spain.
 
#22
Thank you, everyone, for your kind words, encouragement, support in regards to the naked man sightings in September during my Portuguese Camino...

I have since returned to Canada, and would just like to share that I did indeed put this horrible experience behind me. I was able to laugh about it 3 days later, while walking with my new friend and guide from England. I was fortunate to have a wonderful Camino, and met several fellow pilgrims along the way who kept me great company.

One of the difficult parts of that story was that I had not seen any other pilgrims for 2 days of walking, from Porto, so felt very much alone, and I wondered if there was any hope of having someone to at least be near me as I walked. While I do understand that these (very ill) men may not be dangerous, when you are alone and don't speak much Portuguese, it can feel very threatening. Seeing him twice, and knowing that he was anticipating my journey, was very disturbing and upsetting.

The hospitalerio at the albergue in Rates, Nuno, and his volunteer Manuel, took my 'event' very seriously, and were very supportive and kind to me. I cannot say enough about these wonderful people. They also entertained us with a ceremony that night to ward off witches and evil spirits! It turned into a wonderful experience, as many difficult situations in life can be. The warmth and kindness of these lovely people is something I will cherish always. I learned a great deal about many things that day.

I do, however, think it is very important to have an awareness of the risk of such sightings of these men. It is not as rare as many would suggest - I had another sighting just outside of Santiago later on in the month, walking with 2 others on the way to Finisterre, which I also reported. My friends also saw a man flashing, just south of Redondela, near Mos. So these are not so rare.....

I believe that women considering doing any Camino should have the opportunity to be able to make an informed decision on this matter, and be warned of the very real possibility of having these experiences. Then they know, and can plan accordingly.

I am very grateful for all of my experiences on the trail, and now choose to see this one as a gift, because it resulted in receiving the compassion and kindness of the Portuguese people and fellow pilgrims.

CR
 

lckgj

Active Member
#23
I am so pleased to hear you continued with, and finished, your pilgrimage - well done and congratulations! Since reading your original post I have wondered if you were able to continue or not.
You seem to have been spectacularly unlucky in encountering so many flashers on your journey.. maybe you should just take it as a compliment as to how attractive you must be to the locals!
I have vague plans to walk the Camino Portuguese myself next year so it is useful to know of any potential problems so thank you for sharing your unfortunate experience.
I am glad it didn't spoil your camino.
Best wishes, Laura
 
#24
Dear All :)
I saw posts on this topic some time ago but really did not know how to join in. Perhaps one measure of the difficulty is that the majority of the posts are from females who are able to empathize with the situation much more than men. This does not mean that men have no sympathy, in fact we feel terrible that women have had to suffer these situations.
I agree with Javier and others who point out that the situations are no more common than in other places. However, while the chances of an incident might be, for example 2% or whatever, if you are the victim then the stats are 100%. Ok, these men are usually not dangerous and are ill, but even as a man I would not like to have to deal with a similar situation, and while the suggested line is to do something like laughing at them I can understand that it is unnerving and threatening, very upsetting and results in great insecurity each step of the way.
When working as hospitalero this year two female pilgrims came through, one had suffered two separate situations, one was a man exposing himself and the other was a naked man running after her. I didn't know about the situations until breakfast time before they left. The young women were determined not to let the incidents spoil their pilgrimages but understandably there was a considerable amount of emotion to be dealt with. Having checked that the police had been contacted there was not a lot that we could do. But it seemed relevant at the time to focus on the Cruz de Ferro (where they would shortly arrive) and the tradition of placing a stone there; so we picked out two stones from the garden in the refugio and gave them to the two pilgrims to represent the burden they had been unfairly given, they could then symbolically place these burdens at the cross and hopefully continue their journey in peace. I can only hope that healing came along the journey.

Brendan
 
#25
Hi - I am 72 years old and in good health and just finished walking the Camino last week. I found being alone to be safe. You meet other pilgrims along the way but being alone gives you time to reflect. I actually felt people walking with me and I was alone. It is a mystical experience.

Patch G.
 


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