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Diversity on the Camino

On a visit to Australia I won full marks from a young Canadian woman for correctly spotting her nationality from her accent. Apparently I was the first person in three months who hadn't instantly assumed she was from the USA. Having a mother-in-law raised in Toronto might have helped. :)
If you hear a North American accent it is always good policy to assume the speaker is Canadian (unless it is a very pronounced American accent). Americans will not feel chafed for being confused with Canadians but Canucks will not be happy about being thought American.

Same goes, I assume, for those who have trouble with NZ vs Australian accents. I’ll always chose the former to be safe.
 
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On a more serious note, I saw @MARSKA's reflection on her experience, where she stated:
As an American I came to realize on the Camino that some people were prejudging me and/or avoiding me because of my nationality. This was confirmed by a few of my non-American walking partners who told me some Europeans actively dislike Americans. Of course I knew this long ago. Actually experiencing this dislike on the Camino though left me disheartened and ultra sensitive to perceived slights.
That must have been very disappointing for her. But I must admit that I am not entirely innocent of avoiding citizens of the US when travelling. There are so many that I have met over five decades of travelling that are wonderful people and delightful to get to know. If only they outweighed the impression left by those that are so often much less delightful. While they may not be the worst of the travelling companions that I have had to endure - that status I reserve for those from my own country - there have been enough of them to make me wary of seeking out the company of Americans. On pilgrimage, the balance might tip, and I have walked in the company of some delightful people, but I still have vivid memories of some egregious behaviour by American pilgrims.

So while while this is a noble aspiration
Somehow the people of the world must learn to get along. I have no answers.
my answer is to be cautious about reaching out to someone with a North American accent. I might ask if they are from Canada if I am unsure, and I don't snub people who chat when they pass me walking during the day. If that appears like pre-judgement, so be it, but it is passive in nature. I don't actively dislike Americans, or anyone else for that matter, nor do I pre-judge individuals. But those from a couple of countries do have to overcome the weight of many decades of observing their country-men and women when I have been travelling around the world.
 
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Doug, Americans aren't great travelers, at least considering the low percentage of those holding passports. So I'm thinking that you may be meeting many that haven't been overseas before. Do you think that newbie Yankee explorers are the ones that are giving you the bad experiences? Or is there "a type" or types of even experienced Yankee travelers that turn you away from them?
Know-it-alls that don't know anything? Loud mouths?

BTW, I just had a great laugh as I ended writing the above as I figured out one of the types. In the background the radio had a story about our people's thoughts about our national parks. The announcer said something like "Not all had good things to say. About one park someone commented 'I didn't like Yellowstone, it smelled like farts.'".
 
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BTW, I just had a great laugh as I ended writing the above as I figured out one of the types. In the background the radio had a story about our people's thoughts about our national parks. The announcer said something like "Not all had good things to say. About one park someone commented 'I didn't like Yellowstone, it smelled like farts.'".
Sorry to go off topic, but I follow an Instagram account called "Subpar Parks" that interprets bad reviews of national parks into art.


 
On a more serious note, I saw @MARSKA's reflection on her experience, where she stated:

That must have been very disappointing for her. But I must admit that I am not entirely innocent of avoiding citizens of the US when travelling. There are so many that I have met over five decades of travelling that are wonderful people and delightful to get to know. If only they outweighed the impression left by those that are so often much less delightful. While they may not be the worst of the travelling companions that I have had to endure - that status I reserve for those from my own country - there have been enough of them to make me wary of seeking out the company of Americans. On pilgrimage, the balance might tip, and I have walked in the company of some delightful people, but I still have vivid memories of some egregious behaviour by American pilgrims.

So while while this is a noble aspiration

my answer is to be cautious about reaching out to someone with a North American accent. I might ask if they are from Canada if I am unsure, and I don't snub people who chat when they pass me walking during the day. If that appears like pre-judgement, so be it, but it is passive in nature. I don't actively dislike Americans, or anyone else for that matter, nor do I pre-judge individuals. But those from a couple of countries do have to overcome the weight of many decades of observing their country-men and women when I have been travelling around the world.
It certainly sounds like you are prejudging people. And doing it “passively” really doesn’t make it any better.
 
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Doug, Americans aren't great travelers, at least considering the low percentage of those holding passports. So I'm thinking that you may be meeting many that haven't been overseas before. Do you think that newbie Yankee explorers are the ones that are giving you the bad experiences? Or is there "a type" or types of even experienced Yankee travelers that turn you away from them?
Know-it-alls that don't know anything? Loud mouths?
That's a good question. There is clearly a Dunning-Kruger effect amongst travellers from many nations, even those who seem to have travelled before. Of all the things that I observe, those who travel expecting English to be the lingua franca and other places to be some replica of their home town are the most fascinating!
 
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It certainly sounds like you are prejudging people.
I did suggest that it might seem that way. You need to open your mind to the possibility that I don't particularly feel like being exposed to the worst behaviours of some travellers, and I make a risk assessment about that.
And doing it “passively” really doesn’t make it any better.
That's just not true. Would you rather I got in your face and said 'if you are from this country or that country, I don't want to talk to you.' I suspect not. That would be actively disliking people. I don't.
 
That's a good question. There is clearly a Dunning-Kruger effect amongst travellers from many nations, even those who seem to have travelled before. Of all the things that I observe, those who travel expecting English to be the lingua franca and other places to be some replica of their home town are the most fascinating!
Being demanding that someone speak English, or being angry that there's no McDonald's, is inexcusable. Not respecting the manners of a country you're traveling in is inexcusable. Not fully experiencing the culture of a country you're traveling in is a huge, huge loss to the traveler.

But English *is* the current lingua franca, overtaking French sometime between WWI and WWII. And with television and even more so the internet, thinking that people one would meet, particularly those in the hospitality business, might understand some English, or that you could get an American-style hamburger in pretty much any European city, is not entirely unreasonable. There are about 8,000 McDonald's in Europe alone (NOT THAT I THINK ANYONE TRAVELING SHOULD BE EATING AT McDONALD'S) and just as an example, there are 400 million Chinese who have studied English, *which is more than the entire population of the United States.* Indeed, this forum -- about a pilgrimage in Spain -- is pretty much entirely in English, isn't it?
 
Would you rather I got in your face and said 'if you are from this country or that country, I don't want to talk to you.' I suspect not. That would be actively disliking people. I don't.

Yes, I might like it better to know why you aren't talking to me than to be shunned without an explanation. At least I would then know that (a) it isn't personal and (b) I wouldn't want to talk to you either.
 
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Indeed, this forum -- about a pilgrimage in Spain -- is pretty much entirely in English, isn't it?
True. But the membership of this forum is self-selecting and not representative of Camino pilgrims as a whole where those who speak English as their primary language are very much a minority. I think most of us are on this forum rather than another one precisely because it uses English as its working language.
 
True. But the membership of this forum is self-selecting and not representative of Camino pilgrims as a whole where those who speak English as their primary language are very much a minority. I think most of us are on this forum rather than another one precisely because it uses English as its working language.
That English is not most people's primary language is a fact, and I don't mean to suggest anything else. And certainly there are far more people who speak fluent Mandarin Chinese than speak fluent English. But as a language that a plurality of people, particularly those who travel or work in the hospitality industry speak well enough to be understood in (or to understand others), English is common. It's the most widely spoken and written language in the world.

BTW, least you think I expect everyone to speak English, I definitely don't. I spent most of the 80's and 90's traveling the world using my Southern California Spanish, high school French, what little German I learned from my Yiddish-speaking grandmother, and the translations of key phrases generally found in the back 5 pages of my Lonely Planet guidebook. But over time, I noticed that more and more people would let me sputter for a short bit, smile somewhat paternalistically, and then answer or direct me in English. And then engage in a more meaningful conversation. I still feel confident enough to initiate some conversations in Spanish, but otherwise, I usually cut to the chase much quicker and ask if the person speaks English before forcing them to make sense of my poor attempts to speak in their language.
 
There are plenty enough black and brown people on the Way, we see at least a couple every week in the high season. More and more each year. A large number of them are from the USA. I met a couple from Mauritius this year, and a lady from Ivory Coast, and two sisters from St. Kitts... nice.
My (limited) experience seems to confirm this: in 2018, my first pilgrimage, I met several different people of colour: I recall meeting 2 different Black American women along the Way, and later, walked several stages with a Filipino man (resident of Canada) and another man, originally from India, who usually lived and worked in the Texan city where I grew up! Also, lots and lots of S Koreans after Sarria. On the other hand, I don't recall meeting many, or any, folks of colour last year while walking part of the Chemin d'Arles, although there was lots of diversity in the cities on that route.
 
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my answer is to be cautious about reaching out to someone with a North American accent. I might ask if they are from Canada if I am unsure, and I don't snub people who chat when they pass me walking during the day. If that appears like pre-judgement, so be it, but it is passive in nature.
I do not wish to be asked if I am Canadian, simply to confirm that I am not American and thus apparently worthy of more acceptance.

Doug - I simply do not understand why you think it is a good idea to express these opinions here. Most of us have some prejudices and opinions about people, but I have learned that some of these prejudices are unfair, unkind, wrong, and possibly harmful to others. So, I try to judge when it is appropriate to express those opinions and admit to my prejudices, and when it is not appropriate. Writing and posting these negative stereotypes on a public forum is not a constructive contribution to the world. And, it isn't what I would call passive. It is active.

Now that the thread has degenerated into expressions of negative opinions and comparisons of national groups, which are somewhat offensive here on this forum that values diversity. The moderators could start exercising their heavy hands to delete posts, and accept criticism for that, or we could just close the thread.

We will soon see how it works out.
 
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My (limited) experience seems to confirm this: in 2018, my first pilgrimage, I met several different people of colour: I recall meeting 2 different Black American women along the Way, and later, walked several stages with a Filipino man (resident of Canada) and another man, originally from India, who usually lived and worked in the Texan city where I grew up! Also, lots and lots of S Koreans after Sarria. On the other hand, I don't recall meeting many, or any, folks of colour last year while walking part of the Chemin d'Arles, although there was lots of diversity in the cities on that route.
responding to
There are plenty enough black and brown people on the Way, we see at least a couple every week in the high season.
I agree that the number of people of colour on the Camino is increasing. I'm not so sure that, given the number of pilgrims as a whole on the Way in the high season, a couple a week constitutes "plenty enough". I would be more than happy to see more.
 
I do not wish to be asked if I am Canadian, simply to confirm that I am not American and thus worthy of more acceptance.

Right. It reminds me of flags being sewn on backpacks so as to deter people making the "wrong assumption" about nationality. I never know how to take that.

I deleted my previous comment, as it put me on the defensive (though it probably came across as personal). It was aimed to illustrate that stereotypes are inherently harmful and lazy.
 
I did suggest that it might seem that way. You need to open your mind to the possibility that I don't particularly feel like being exposed to the worst behaviours of some travellers, and I make a risk assessment about that.

That's just not true. Would you rather I got in your face and said 'if you are from this country or that country, I don't want to talk to you.' I suspect not. That would be actively disliking people. I don't.

And yet here you are, airing it on the forum. What's the difference?
 
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Right. It reminds me of flags being sewn on backpacks so as to deter people making the "wrong assumption" about nationality. I never know how to take that.
Hmmm. Interesting point. I have a flag on my backpack, but because I’m proud of my country of origin, not to stop people making the wrong assumption. In case my name doesn’t give it away, I love NZ. In my heart, it will always be ‘Home’. I value the fact that my family can trace back 5 generation’s in NZ - no mean feat in a nation that is less than 200 years old.

Not that I really mind when someone calls me an Aussie - all teasing aside, our culture’s are more similar than not. My sister gave up her Nationality and became an Aussie, my nephew is an Aussie.

But my family is perhaps a little more mixed than some - Kiwi, Aussie, German, English, and Japanese.

Nothing like a little diversity to keep life interesting - whether it be on, or off the Camino.
 
Interesting point. I have a flag on my backpack, but because I’m proud of my country of origin, not to stop people making the wrong assumption

I was intentionally vague with my comment, as I was trying not to call out nationalities. It was more directed at North America, being mistaken for a different nationality based on similar accents. Basically, flags being sewn on packs to explicitly state who they are not, and not necessarily based on pride of origin.

To that point, I've got a great ear and try to pick out the "e" vowel in kiwis, which sound distinctly different from Aussies.
 
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"e" vowel in kiwis, which sound distinctly different from Aussies.
The quickest way is to get us to say '6'. To the Aussie ear, our 'I' sounds like an 'E'. I worked in Sydney many years ago and our phone number had three sixes in it. I became widely known amongst my clients as the sex mad kiwi 🤷‍♂️🤷‍♂️
 
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I was intentionally vague with my comment, as I was trying not to call out nationalities. It was more directed at North America, being mistaken for a different nationality based on similar accents. Basically, flags being sewn on packs to explicitly state who they are not, and not necessarily based on pride of origin.

To be fair I think when I first started traveling I was perhaps guilty of that to an extent. And in my late teens and early 20s there was a significant amount of negative feeling towards Americans in various parts of the world, including New Zealand. At least that's my recollection. Therefore I can fully understand why a Canadian did not wish to be mistaken as an American at that point.

I sometimes think of it as a little bit like little brother / big brother rivalry. Neither hates - or even actively dislikes - the other, it's just you're different and you wish to emphasize that.

The population of the States is something like eight times the population of Canada. The population of Australia is roughly five times that of New Zealand .
So even if statistically little brother travels more than big brother you're still more likely to meet big brother than little brother.

A classic case in point is New Zealand vs Australia. Even though 70% of New Zealanders hold a passport, verses just 57% of Australians, because they outnumber us five to one you're naturally going to see more Aussies than Kiwis.
 
Just to backpedal a bit…

My previous comment about avoiding mistaking Canadians for Americans is not due to any latent animosity or sense of superiority towards the latter but for the same reason that Hercule Poirot emphatically shouts, ‘I am Belgian! I believe that Austrians feel the same way when automatically believed to be Germans.

In East Asia, the assumption is often that westerners are Americans, with all its connected baggage, much in the same way that any East Asian is thought to be Chinese in many parts of the world.
 
The quickest way is to get us to say '6'. To the Aussie ear, our 'I' sounds like an 'E'. I worked in Sydney many years ago and our phone number had three sixes in it. I became widely known amongst my clients as the sex mad kiwi 🤷‍♂️🤷‍♂️
And let's not forget 'sivvin' instead of seven, 'cluck' instead of clock and that unforgivable language abomination 'jandals' instead of thongs. :cool:
 
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And let's not forget 'sivvin' instead of seven, 'cluck' instead of clock and that unforgivable language abomination 'jandals' instead of thongs. :cool:
🤣Yes, but the first few are just you guys mispronouncing English. Or believing that we do.
Jandals vs Thongs - our thongs are most definitely not worn on our feet.....
 
In East Asia, the assumption is often that westerners are Americans, with all its connected baggage, much in the same way that any East Asian is thought to be Chinese in many parts of the world
Baggage?
 
I do not wish to be asked if I am Canadian, simply to confirm that I am not American and thus apparently worthy of more acceptance.

Doug - I simply do not understand why you think it is a good idea to express these opinions here. Most of us have some prejudices and opinions about people, but I have learned that some of these prejudices are unfair, unkind, wrong, and possibly harmful to others. So, I try to judge when it is appropriate to express those opinions and admit to my prejudices, and when it is not appropriate. Writing and posting these negative stereotypes on a public forum is not a constructive contribution to the world. And, it isn't what I would call passive. It is active.

Now that the thread has degenerated into expressions of negative opinions and comparisons of national groups, which are somewhat offensive here on this forum that values diversity. The moderators could start exercising their heavy hands to delete posts, and accept criticism for that, or we could just close the thread.

We will soon see how it works out.
Thank you @C clearly for this response. I was considering a reply to that particular post in its entirety but could not work out where to begin. Thank you for making the time and effort to respond. Your words are spot on in my view. 🙏
 
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Right. It reminds me of flags being sewn on backpacks so as to deter people making the "wrong assumption" about nationality. I never know how to take that.
It's interesting how many of us see things differently. Whenever I see a flag sewn on, I assume the person is proud of their country, and it also can avoid being asked where they are from. It can also act as a conversation starter, but hopefully not as a debate of course. In some cases I would need to ask which country the flag represents.
I never have thought a flag was used as a deterrent based on a wrong assumption.
 
It's interesting how many of us see things differently. Whenever I see a flag sewn on, I assume the person is proud of their country, and it also can avoid being asked where they are from. It can also act as a conversation starter, but hopefully not as a debate of course. In some cases I would need to ask which country the flag represents.
Yes agreed. It didn’t occur to me that folks would be putting a flag on to say where they are not from! It can’t be many surely?
 
Yes agreed. It didn’t occur to me that folks would be putting a flag on to say where they are not from! It can’t be many surely?
I have met a few over the years. Canadians, Scots, Welsh, Irish from both ends of the Loyalist/Republican spectrum, and one Belgian who constantly found himself in the position of Hercule Poirot being mistaken for French :) I do not carry a national flag on my pack or anywhere else but my Scottish accent is usually very easily identified by all but the most cloth-eared. It can be a little trying on the nerves to be from a small(er) country to be constantly confused or conflated with your larger neighbour. I try to be polite when people refer to me as "English" but it does grate. As it did when as a hotel porter a well-meaning but misinformed hotel guest described St Andrews as "the cutest little town in England"......
 
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I have met a few over the years. Canadians, Scots, Welsh, Irish from both ends of the Loyalist/Republican spectrum, and one Belgian who constantly found himself in the position of Hercule Poirot being mistaken for French :) I do not carry a national flag on my pack or anywhere else but my Scottish accent is usually very easily identified by all but the most cloth-eared. It can be a little trying on the nerves to be from a small(er) country to be constantly confused or conflated with your larger neighbour. I try to be polite when people refer to me as "English" but it does grate. As it did when as a hotel porter a well-meaning but misinformed hotel guest described St Andrews as "the cutest little town in England"......

I happily admit that I still doubt the position of the colours of our national Belgian flag, seeing it does not differ much from the German one. I do not have any connection with a national flag or a regional one ( the Flemish in my case ). I feel more connection with the province ( also a flag btw ) where I live.

 
I'd never heard of St. Andrews, Scotland until my brother-in-law took a guy trip specifically to play at its well-known golf course.
The hotel where I worked had a contract with an American golf tourism company. So a large percentage of our guests were American golfers on a package holiday. Often their first visit to the UK. An incomparable object lesson in cultural differences :) The guests would arrive at Prestwick airport and be shown to their rental car which usually had manual gears, right-hand drive, and was small enough to fit in the boot - trunk! - of their own car at home. Most had never even seen a clutch pedal let alone used one. Then they had to leave the airport on the wrong side of the road. And after about 200 yards they met a roundabout. I gathered from talking with the survivors that these are a rarity in the US. Especially ones where the traffic goes around clockwise. In retrospect it is surprising that any made it safely to the east coast at all! :)
 
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New Jersey has roundabouts everywhere, but definitely less common in most other places in the US (and I’m not even sure why NJ seems to be the only one).

My first experience with a manual transmission was when I was in college. My father had found me a used Landcruiser and shipped to New Jersey. It never occurred to him that I wouldn’t be able to drive it. The guy at the railyard gave me a quick tutorial and then said, “good thing you’re driving into Manhattan - traffic is so bad no one will know when you stall out.” And he was right.
 
I have met a few over the years. Canadians, Scots, Welsh, Irish from both ends of the Loyalist/Republican spectrum, and one Belgian who constantly found himself in the position of Hercule Poirot being mistaken for French :) I do not carry a national flag on my pack or anywhere else but my Scottish accent is usually very easily identified by all but the most cloth-eared. It can be a little trying on the nerves to be from a small(er) country to be constantly confused or conflated with your larger neighbour. I try to be polite when people refer to me as "English" but it does grate. As it did when as a hotel porter a well-meaning but misinformed hotel guest described St Andrews as "the cutest little town in England"......
Indeed and understood. I am English and have heard Scotland described as northern England and Wales described as western England… and all sorts of other variations too. It must get annoying!
 
@TravellingMan22 I was a student in St Andrews (twice!) in the 1980s. Long before the place got the Royal seal of approval and went very upmarket. Astonishingly popular these days. A bit of a backwater when I was there. I doubt they would let a prole like me in these days!
 
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I did suggest that it might seem that way. You need to open your mind to the possibility that I don't particularly feel like being exposed to the worst behaviours of some travellers, and I make a risk assessment about that.

That's just not true. Would you rather I got in your face and said 'if you are from this country or that country, I don't want to talk to you.' I suspect not. That would be actively disliking people. I don't.
I would. Get in my face and tell me what you think. That honesty would be nice but would require a fair amount of intestinal fortitude on your part as the response back to you may be blunt and raw, hurtful and I suspect that deters you from doing it. That's what would deter most people from doing it.
For every stereotype opinion out there there's an equal opinion back at the originator. Nobody comes from utopia, nor are they themselves infallible and free from annoying habits and idiosyncrasies.
 
@TravellingMan22 I was a student in St Andrews (twice!) in the 1980s. Long before the place got the Royal seal of approval and went very upmarket. Astonishingly popular these days. A bit of a backwater when I was there. I doubt they would let a prole like me in these days!
Ha ha indeed. I think the ‘entry’ process has been tightened up so only the ‘right people’ get in!!
 
New Jersey has roundabouts everywhere, but definitely less common in most other places in the US (and I’m not even sure why NJ seems to be the only one).
New Jersey was where I saw my first roundabout/traffic circle in 1970. Now my nearby city in the US has a whopping two.
My boyfriend taught me to drive a stick shift in my first car; an old 1959 Renault with suicide doors and the engine in back like a VW bug. I got my first speeding ticket coasting downhill in neutral.😅
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I've got no idea how it is nowadays, but when I grew up it was the Law that you learnt to drive a manual transmission. You had to pass your driving test in one. (Incidentally that was at 15).
Completely up to you if you then went and bought an automatic - that was fine - but you at least had to know how to drive 'properly' . Of course just to make life awkward we also had the old column shifts. (We tend to hang on to our cars for a bit longer than many parts of the world).
And quite a few of my mates had what we called muscle cars - which were American - and hence had the steering wheel on what we considered to be the wrong side. It made life interesting.
 
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Therefore I can fully understand why a Canadian did not wish to be mistaken as an American at that point

Yes agreed. It didn’t occur to me that folks would be putting a flag on to say where they are not from! It can’t be many surely?
Years ago, many Americans sewed Canadian flags into their backspace and clothing when traveling abroad so as not to be identified as Americans.

New Jersey has roundabouts everywhere, but definitely less common in most other places in the US
The city of Carmel, Indiana has a population of just over 100,000, and has over 150 roundabouts!
I think that there are two in my similarly sized city in Oregon.
Most had never even seen a clutch pedal let alone used one.

My recent car is an automatic. Never drove one before , so for me it was a big change!
I do miss the stick shift. It does feel more like " real driving
I learned to drive in a car with a manual transmission (my father didn't like automatics) and I made sure that all my kids learned to drive one. In fact their first cars all had stuck shifts. I have had cars with automatic transmissions for years now, but I do miss driving a manual transmission.
 
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Try to avoid our double roundabouts then! Ai ai, needs some practice!

That looks like a fairly normal roundabout in a larger city? Just two lanes, am I correct?

Having grown up with roundabouts they don't exactly bother me however the craziest roundabout I ever tackled was the Arc de Triomphe. 12 lanes. I went in blind so I was not concerned.
I am a moderately confident driver shall we say and I had complete trust in my French girlfriend so I simply did exactly as she said - indicated, changed lanes turned etc as and when told. Worked perfectly.

I stood on the Arc and watched the traffic at a later point - I saw many for whom it did not work so smoothly shall we say.
I would certainly not wish to tackle it alone

I seem to remember a truly complicated system of I think four roundabouts (EDIT : 5 , arranged in a circle) in Swindon UK. Now that required you to pay attention!
 
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I walked the Camino Frances this past September from Astorga to Santiago. I am an African American woman for the US and during my almost 3 weeks on the Camino. I did not see anyone that looked like me. I did see a bunch of Asians and other "people of color" but no other black person. This was my concern going in. Also, as a black woman living in the US, I'm use to being in white spaces and especially when I travel abroad. I have never had an issue. Anyways, I didn't know how I would be received on the Camino. It turned out that I had nothing to worry about.
 
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As for national stereotypes, as a Brit in the 80s I could be tagged as a football hooligan/lager lout on the other side of the English Channel, but at the same tome on the other side of the Atlantic more likely to be a distant cousin of the Royal Family.
 
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As for national stereotypes, as a Brit in the 80s I could be tagged as a football hooligan/lager lout on the other side of the English Channel, but at the same tome on the other side of the Atlantic more likely to be a distant cousin of the Royal Family.
Are the two stereotypes mutually exclusive?
 
When I was a hospie in Ponferrada a group of young pilgrims from the US in their twenties told me my English was excellent.

They then asked my nationality.

I chuckled and said “USA”.

I had a wee bit too much fun answering their question.
I have a similar experience but different. The locals in Spain always think I'm Spanish. I mean they go off on me (think security guards at train stations)... I always have to say, "No soy de aqui. Mas despacio por favor..." They look at me shocked and say (still too fast), "Lo siento, pensé que eras español."

I think it must be the mustache.
 
I've got no idea how it is nowadays, but when I grew up it was the Law that you learnt to drive a manual transmission. You had to pass your driving test in one. (Incidentally that was at 15).
Completely up to you if you then went and bought an automatic - that was fine - but you at least had to know how to drive 'properly' . Of course just to make life awkward we also had the old column shifts. (We tend to hang on to our cars for a bit longer than many parts of the world).
And quite a few of my mates had what we called muscle cars - which were American - and hence had the steering wheel on what we considered to be the wrong side. It made life interesting.
I was the second owner of a 37 Chev that I bought for $60 in 1968. I was able to fit all six mates into it when we went out. It had a stick shift that got interesting to use when the front seat was fully loaded.

I was still at highschool and found that I couldn't afford the petrol as I didn't have a job and so sold it to my brother for $80. Only car I ever made money on!

Unfortunately, a couple of months later, on Christmas Eve, a motorcyclist totalled it in a head on crash doing what must have been an incredible speed. The un-helmeted motorcyclist survived but he was never the full quid after that!

It had external door hinges that stuck out. I remember picking bits of hair, skin, bone and brain off the right hand drivers door hinge the next morning 😔
 
St James' Way - Self-guided 4-7 day Walking Packages, Reading to Southampton, 110 kms
I walked in Sept/Oct of this year (2023) and was 99% of the time the only Black pilgrim I saw. At a certain point (around Viana) I happened to meet another Black woman pilgrim while I was sitting at a cafe. When I would run into her again (we never actually walked together but maybe saw each other at the same albergue once and maybe 2 other times saw each other during a days walk), We shared stories of other pilgrims mistaking her for me and me for her. We look nothing alike. People would start full on conversations with me about something and it would be clear to me that they thought I was her. She had the same experience with respect to me. There was no other reason for that except for the fact that we're both Black women. Made me wonder how much other pilgrims were really taking the time to get to know her (or me) if they were so easily mistaking us (it was lazy).

Another thing of being the rare Black pilgrim on the Camino when I walked, other pilgrims know you before you've ever actually met them, which was strange at first but I accepted it. But, overall, people were friendly. My Camino family that I walked early on with was very racially, ethnically and geographically diverse (Filipina, Latina, White, Korean and Black) but I never really saw other Camino families that were racially diverse.

Personally, I would like to see more racial diversity on the Camino (specifically, Black pilgrims) because I think it's such a beautiful thing to experience, so I'm doing some things in my sphere to bring awareness to it and encourage that. I think so much starts with the awareness that 1) the Camino actually exists and the 2) it is something for everybody if one feels compelled to do it.
 
I walked in Sept/Oct of this year (2023) and was 99% of the time the only Black pilgrim I saw. At a certain point (around Viana) I happened to meet another Black woman pilgrim while I was sitting at a cafe. When I would run into her again (we never actually walked together but maybe saw each other at the same albergue once and maybe 2 other times saw each other during a days walk), We shared stories of other pilgrims mistaking her for me and me for her. We look nothing alike. People would start full on conversations with me about something and it would be clear to me that they thought I was her. She had the same experience with respect to me. There was no other reason for that except for the fact that we're both Black women. Made me wonder how much other pilgrims were really taking the time to get to know her (or me) if they were so easily mistaking us (it was lazy).

Another thing of being the rare Black pilgrim on the Camino when I walked, other pilgrims know you before you've ever actually met them, which was strange at first but I accepted it. But, overall, people were friendly. My Camino family that I walked early on with was very racially, ethnically and geographically diverse (Filipina, Latina, White, Korean and Black) but I never really saw other Camino families that were racially diverse.

Personally, I would like to see more racial diversity on the Camino (specifically, Black pilgrims) because I think it's such a beautiful thing to experience, so I'm doing some things in my sphere to bring awareness to it and encourage that. I think so much starts with the awareness that 1) the Camino actually exists and the 2) it is something for everybody if one feels compelled to do it.

Brava! At last a first positive idea to do something about what I percieved as a lack of diversity on the camino!
 
If we live long enough, each of us will be privileged to experience the sting of discrimination. And, if we are fortunate, being on the receiving end of such hurtful conduct will, either instantly or gradually, alter our appreciation of the universality of this reality. It is not only shades of gray that inculcate us with respect for another’s culture or life; tendrils from a plentiful color spectrum weave the tapestry of our lives and determine the hue of the shadows we, ourselves, cast upon the world as we pass through the ages and places of our lives.

Apropos of this topic, here's a link to an NPR radio session titled:

Is It Time To Say R.I.P. To 'POC'?


The podcast and transcript are both available, but listening to the voices is a more meaningful trip.
 
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PS Hello happypilgrim! How did you come to walk the camino? Which is the same question I would like to put to nycwalking who, if I understand, has walked several caminos and even was a hospitaleira.
 
Firstly sadly the word ‘diversity’ carries a degree of toxicity’. It doesn’t need to of course, but media, politicians and activist groups makes it so. I will leave it there given rule 3. It just about opening things up to welcome a broader group of people.
The word, concept or practice of diversity is not inherently toxic. It's a beneficial thing that makes everything better. For anyone who looks at diversity as toxic, they should examine for themselves why they prefer exclusivity over inclusivity. Food for thought.
 
There was no other reason for that except for the fact that we're both Black women. Made me wonder how much other pilgrims were really taking the time to get to know her (or me) if they were so easily mistaking us (it was lazy).

You are being too kind. As I’m sure you know, it’s a well-known and documented issue in workplaces where people should be able to see their colleagues as individuals, not just people of a certain (minority) race or ethnicity. And while there are “scientific” explanations for why it happens, there’s really no excuse for not making the effort to overcome it.

 
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PS Hello happypilgrim! How did you come to walk the camino? Which is the same question I would like to put to nycwalking who, if I understand, has walked several caminos and even was a hospitaleira.
Hi! I saw "The Way" in 2010 and was so affected by it and thought to myself "I would love to do that one day". Never thought of it again and then this past August 10+ years later, seemingly out of nowhere, I felt the pull. 3 weeks later I was in SJPP walking over the Pyrenees. lol.
 
You are being too kind. As I’m sure you know, it’s a well-known and documented issue in workplaces where people should be able to see their colleagues as individuals, not just people of a certain (minority) race or ethnicity. And while there are “scientific” explanations for why it happens, there’s really no excuse for not making the effort to overcome it.

Yep, I know this and knew exactly what it was. It's a reflection on those pilgrims and I had no issue pointing out that I'm not the pilgrim they thought I was (and left them with that egg on their face). That's why I called it lazy. It was one small thing (out of many beautiful reasons) that made me want to do what I can in my sphere to encourage more Black people to walk the Camino. Sharing my experience because many people just don't even know about it. When I felt the pull to walk, I was deep diving on Youtube and the net generally searching for blogs and videos to see a Black woman's experience on the Camino. I wanted to get glean if I, as a Black woman, would be safe and just generally watch a Black woman's experience. There was a grand total of 1 Black woman on Youtube that I could find in a sea of Camino videos. So, a white person, for example, wanting to research the Camino and watch videos would give no thought to whether it was "for them", if there are people who look like them, if they would encounter any particular issues based on race. A Black person curious about the Camino would look on Youtube and not see that. Now, obviously that didn't stop me from walking - and I eventually found a Black woman friend of a friend who had walked and was able to talk to her about her experience - but it was something I noticed. I've been sharing my experience and, as a result, a few Black women in particular are making plans to walk their own Caminos. Just talking about my experience and seeing my photos and videos made them look more into it and start to feel a pull toward the Camino.
 
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.
A forum friend posted this story recently. You might find it of interest and enjoy it as it is a Black woman who is hiking all the peaks in the White mountains of New Hampshire and she is being interviewed on her thoughts. She is part of a Black hiking club.
 
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PS Hello happypilgrim! How did you come to walk the camino? Which is the same question I would like to put to nycwalking who, if I understand, has walked several caminos and even was a hospitaleira.

I discovered the Camino in 2000.

A woman at the predominately white Episcopal parish at which I taught Sunday School was walking the camino for her 50TH birthday.

Upon her return I ask questions about the way then headed out in 2001 with mom in tow.

I love walking the Camino warts and all. I walked CF: 2001, 2002, (2xs), 2004, and 2014. In 2002, 2004, and 2014 I also continued on to Fisterra. In 2019, I finally walked another path Camino Sanabres Ourense to Santiago.

I was a hospitalera at San Nicolas Del Flüe albergue in Ponferrada fall 2002. I volunteered again in 2004 with Confraternity of Saint James UK at their albergue Guacelmo in Rabanal del Camino.

Thank you @happypilgrim for chiming in about your experience on the way.

On my high school gymnastics team there were two blacks girls, myself and another.

Our coach nearly always called us by the other’s name, especially at a distance. We neither liked his constant mix up nor looked alike.

Buen camino everyone, everywhere, everytime.
 
Yep, I know this and knew exactly what it was. It's a reflection on those pilgrims and I had no issue pointing out that I'm not the pilgrim they thought I was (and left them with that egg on their face). That's why I called it lazy. It was one small thing (out of many beautiful reasons) that made me want to do what I can in my sphere to encourage more Black people to walk the Camino. Sharing my experience because many people just don't even know about it. When I felt the pull to walk, I was deep diving on Youtube and the net generally searching for blogs and videos to see a Black woman's experience on the Camino. I wanted to get glean if I, as a Black woman, would be safe and just generally watch a Black woman's experience. There was a grand total of 1 Black woman on Youtube that I could find in a sea of Camino videos. So, a white person, for example, wanting to research the Camino and watch videos would give no thought to whether it was "for them", if there are people who look like them, if they would encounter any particular issues based on race. A Black person curious about the Camino would look on Youtube and not see that. Now, obviously that didn't stop me from walking - and I eventually found a Black woman friend of a friend who had walked and was able to talk to her about her experience - but it was something I noticed. I've been sharing my experience and, as a result, a few Black women in particular are making plans to walk their own Caminos. Just talking about my experience and seeing my photos and videos made them look more into it and start to feel a pull toward the Camino.
' a friend of a friend of a friend'. This raised a memory that led me to do a search. I recalled that while generally there are six degrees of separation between people, in Ireland the number is far smaller. I will check that out if I can, online. It would be interesting to conduct an enquiry of forum members to see who has connected with whom in pms or real life! It would produce a fascinating web design! I am not proposing to do it, the post quoted just prompted me to take a roll call of people I have come across in my life. Thanks, @happypilgrim, for the prompt!
ps: maths was not a happy place for me in school so I would be no good at the calculations!
 
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.
. . . Americans aren't great travelers, at least considering the low percentage of those holding passports.

According to the Australian government, 53% of Australians possessed a passport in 2022. According to the United States government, 60% of Americans possessed a passport in 2023.

The notion that Americans do not travel internationally is a hangover from the pre-September 11th attacks. It used to be that Americans could travel throughout North America with only their driver's license as identification. As such, many Americans traveled internationally on a frequent basis without the need to apply for a passport.

Post-9/11, Americans need a passport to leave the United States. Thus, we now lead Australia--a country with a huge reputation for international travel--with passport possession.
 
Greetings, @happypilgrim , and thank you for sharing your experience. As somebody who's spent far too much time on YouTube I agree completely that people of color doing the Camino are very rare. You also commented that racially diverse Camino family's are rare. Which I guess in a sense is true, because although my camino family was very mixed we were technically predominantly 'European', the only exceptions being a Taiwanese man and a Chinese woman. We were however culturally a very diverse bunch - Italian, Irish, Kiwi, Chinese, Taiwanese and Czechoslovakian.
I commented much much earlier in the thread that to me a big part of the issue was awareness - I myself only found out about the camino back in January.
I therefore applaud you for making the effort to raise the awareness and profile of the camino amongst your friends and acquaintances. YouTube isn't for everybody however if you felt the urge there's always room for another camino video! And you can reach a lot of people - especially those who like yourself are perhaps seeking a little reassurance that you would be welcomed?
 
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YouTube isn't for everybody however if you felt the urge there's always room for another camino video! And you can reach a lot of people - especially those who like yourself are perhaps seeking a little reassurance that you would be welcomed?
I have thought about it and it's something i might do. I took a lot of video and photos to put something together for myself but, in the spirit of this post (which is something I thought about often while on the Camino), I might share youtube whatever I put together so that people who look like me who may be curious about the Camino might come across it and see that "oh yeah, we're out there too". It could be another nudge that moves someone closer to the Camino. Still thinking on it but am definitely considering it as my offering and action towards a change I'd like to see.
 
Years ago, many Americans sewed Canadian flags into their backspace and clothing when traveling abroad so as not to be identified as Americans.


The city of Carmel, Indiana has a population of just over 100,000, and has over 150 roundabouts!
I think that there are two in my similarly sized city in Oregon.



I learned to drive in a car with a manual transmission (my father didn't like automatics) and I made sure that all my kids learned to drive one. In fact their first cars all had stuck shifts. I have had cars with automatic transmissions for years now, but I do miss driving a manual transmission.
Thank you for responding. Was the flag ‘thing’ due to the risk of perceived terrorism. Or a sense that everyday folks responded differently to folks from USA than Canada?
 
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Thank you for responding. Was the flag ‘thing’ due to the risk of perceived terrorism. Or a sense that everyday folks responded differently to folks from USA than Canada?
I think it pre-dated the whole issue of terrorism. My memory is fuzzy, but I think the "flag thing" was around from the late 1960s - but we won't go into the various political issues that characterized that time and polarized sentiments. Canada only adopted it's maple leaf flag in 1965 and it soon became something to wave. I love our flag and remember its adoption with pride, but I hate for my country to be viewed in terms of a rejection of another country.
 
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Maybe they just are not interested?

Culturally
Demographically

Maybe its not their thing and simply dont care?
 
Maybe they just are not interested?

Culturally
Demographically

Maybe its not their thing and simply dont care?
It sounds as if you think that "they" are somehow fundamentally different from you.

In my experience people who like walking in the outdoors come in a wide variety of cultures, country of residence, size, age, sexual orientation, race and skin colour.
 
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I think it pre-dated the whole issue of terrorism. My memory is fuzzy, but I think the "flag thing" was around from the late 1960s - but we won't go into the various political issues that characterized that time and polarized sentiments. Canada only adopted its maple leaf flag in 1965 and it soon became something to wave. I love our flag and remember its adoption with pride, but I hate for my country to be viewed in terms of a rejection of another country.
I guess I remember (as a Londoner), the late 80s to pre 911 when even the threat of a terrorist attack would understandably deter lots of USA citizens flying to UK and I assume beyond. It was a massive deal esp. economically and occupied may a column inch. I guess the threat is more accepted and ‘lived with’ now.
 
I guess I remember (as a Londoner), the late 80s to pre 911 when even the threat of a terrorist attack would understandably deter lots of USA citizens flying to UK and I assume beyond. It was a massive deal esp. economically and occupied may a column inch. I guess the threat is more accepted and ‘lived with’ now.
I remember it being an issue during the "hijacking era."
 
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In my opinion, the previous posts have nothing to do with the diversity on the Camino🙏🏻
Agreed. Well to a degree. It’s a tangent for sure. One poster said she was treated in a certain way because she is from the USA and diversity to me isn’t just about who is on the Camino but how they treated.

But yes a departure from the original purpose of the thread.
 
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It sounds as if you think that "they" are somehow fundamentally different from you.

In my experience people who like walking in the outdoors come in a wide variety of cultures, country of residence, size, age, sexual orientation, race and skin colour.
Never said that or insinuated any of the sort
"They"..meaning any non specific group
 
Never said that or insinuated any of the sort
"They"..meaning any non specific group


Did you read all of the earlier posts on this thread ? You can find here that it is much more than a case of awareness.
Us and them/ they is a concept that I feel should be avoided in this context.

And what does " any non specific group " mean ? Do they belong to the " majority or the minority " ? Umbrella concepts that do not help our society much I believe.
 
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🤣Yes, but the first few are just you guys mispronouncing English. Or believing that we do.
Jandals vs Thongs - our thongs are most definitely not worn on our feet.....
A small aside, because of my Rugby friends, I was introduced to the Haka..and the Culture..which I think is one of the most beautiful.
 
Hello! I was having a problem of how to formulate a title for this thread. Have been looking at one of my old blogs and noticed mentioning my coming across a person of colour (a gentleman). We discussed umbrellas because he had noticed that I was carrying the same umbrella as he was carrying. I would like to throw a question to our community. We mention Japanese, South Koreans(?) etc. But the question of colour never comes up. Apart from this once I have never seen any person of colour on any of the caminos I walked - have not yet walked the CF. Has anybody here met a person of colour on a camino?
Last year I walked the CP and met several Pilgrims from Brazil, mostly People of colour.
I met some mexican Pilgrims that were a mixture of native, english and german heritage as they stated. Don't know, if that counts.
 
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Aren't we ALL "people of colour"?
I don’t know tbh what the definitions are, but it’s just the current ‘terminology’ to capture viewpoints, data, etc, around specific groups of folks based on some demographic factors. It seems to be ‘agreed’ across most communities and is the word used in much of the media. I am sure it will change at some point. I don’t see the actual wording being over important in terms of data capture, etc. it’s more to have a debate as to why some communities are very small on the Camino.
 
Aren't we ALL "people of colour"?
Wikipedia says:
The term "person of color" ( pl. : people of color or persons of color; abbreviated POC) is primarily used to describe any person who is not considered "white".
Their emphasis, not mine

Webster says basically the same.

Apparently, and again I’m quoting : „the umbrella term “person of colour” (POC) was first used in the USA, but it is increasingly used by activists in the UK. It essentially refers to anybody who is not white. Many believe it is more empowering than the term “non-white” and “minority” (in BME and BAME) because it does not revolve around whiteness.“
 
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Wikipedia says:
The term "person of color" ( pl. : people of color or persons of color; abbreviated POC) is primarily used to describe any person who is not considered "white".
Their emphasis, not mine

Webster says basically the same.

Apparently, and again I’m quoting : „the umbrella term “person of colour” (POC) was first used in the USA, but it is increasingly used by activists in the UK. It essentially refers to anybody who is not white. Many believe it is more empowering than the term “non-white” and “minority” (in BME and BAME) because it does not revolve around whiteness.“
BAME and POC are the generally used words in the UK, not necessarily by activists but companies and media. They are ‘accepted’ words is you like! No doubt it will change at some point.
 
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St James' Way - Self-guided 4-7 day Walking Packages, Reading to Southampton, 110 kms
Personally it's something I've struggled with my entire life. Why should we describe anyone by their skin tone? Then again, why should it be racist to do so?

When asked for a physical description of someone, what do I do? I describe them by the colour and style of the clothes they were wearing, their height, their general body shape (also a point of potential contention), their hair color, and, yes, their skin tone. (Which in my case varies greatly depending on how many weeks I've spent in the sun... ).

In a country as racially diverse as New Zealand it is very easy to trip up. Do I say Maori or of Polynesian descent? (Because unless you are aware of some very subtle differences - which do not always exist - it is very easy to mix up a Maori and for example somebody of Tongan descent). Do I say Asian or try and be more specific - and risk offence ? The list goes on.

Technically I am a 'New Zealander of European descent' . Which I find bloody annoying. I'm a New Zealander. Full Stop! But yes, I am therefore a white person, often referred to as 'Pakeha' in New Zealand. (Maori).

Years ago an American friend of mine called himself African American. He now calls himself black. Personally if he has to be categorized he prefers the term 'Black' to 'person of color' . His wife is a Kiwi. A Maori, although she is every bit as 'white' as I am. SHE prefers the term 'person of colour' . And so it goes on.

Like I say, it's something I've struggled with all my life. All I can try and do is be respectful.
 

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