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Graffiti on the Camino

Jim

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006- Camino Portuguese
2008- Camino Frances
2009- Sanabres extension of the VDLP
2010- Camino Frances
2011- Camino Potuguese
2014- Camino Frances
2017- Camino Finisterre
#1
I walked the section from Sarria to SDC in May as part of a European excursion. I found myself doing this for a combination of religious and cultural reasons. I have been very respectful of the camino and carted out every bit of stuff I used along the way and properly disposed of it. I mainly stayed in small hotels and B&B's along the way this time because I know that the space in albergues is needed by those who cannot afford to pay for private lodging.
I found that some of the mileage markers between Melide and O Pino especially had graffiti scrawled on them in white paint, http://www.bahaifaith.org or similar. I was able to contact the Ba'hai organization and described what had happened and even suggested that they assign a group to correct this, since the camino is a UNESCO site. On some markers, it was painted over, but you could still make out the website. I received a response indicating that they will be checking into this and they do not condone this sort of thing. I know that graffiti is done by many, but perhaps it should be emphasized by the Amigos and other organizations and friends of the camino to get out education about this so people will refrain from doing this sort of thing. Posters in the albergues, perhaps? And ditto about educating the pilgrims about not leaving trash out on the trails. I use this term loosely because I felt that many walking on the Frances were not really pilgrims, but rather hikers "going the distance." Very nice people, just the same... but in need of education about the camino's history. I spoke about this to whomever I met and quite a few surprisingly knew nothing about its history or its cultural and religious roots. Education = respect in many cases, so I am hoping that the trail does not deteriorate with the increased popularity it has seen in recent years.
 

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KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
#2
Unfortunately, graffiti appears to be rife on the Camino, especially from Sarria onwards, and once done, it stays around for years. We were quite shocked to reach the 100km marker only to find that it was covered with ugly graffiti. We were even more shocked to find that three nice men from Malaga, who we met for several days on our travels, were carrying pens expressly for the purpose of inscribing their own names on various places as they walked.
Kiwinomad
 

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:
#3
This is the 100km to go stele - full of graffiti.
 

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falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#4
I must have hit the 100 km marker within minutes of it being cleaned in May of 2007; there were only three Spanish names on it! I tried isopropyl alcohol to clean it, but that was not the right solvent. I saw a photo taken a few weeks later, and it was about half-covered. This spring, it was fully covered!

I guess the hyenas are constantly marking their territory.

June 2, 2007
 

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Jim

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006- Camino Portuguese
2008- Camino Frances
2009- Sanabres extension of the VDLP
2010- Camino Frances
2011- Camino Potuguese
2014- Camino Frances
2017- Camino Finisterre
#5
Yes, in May 2008 the 100 km. marker was rather disgusting with the amount of writing on it.

I met a young French woman on a bike just past the cafe near Morgade with a marker in her hand ready to write on the sides of one of the buildings, a farmhouse I believe. She also had asked me if the nearby horreo was a restroom! She had come on a bike quite some distance, I'm sure (I don't know her actual start point, but I am familiar with her hometown in France). This is what I was talking about re: lack of knowledge about the camino in general.
 

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kubapigora

Active Member
#6
Unfortunatelly, there is a chance, that nobody will do anything about graffiti. You get all sorts of people walking/riding camino, and it will always be a problem. Some kind of solution could be a special place in every albergue, where graffiti makers could express themeselves. I know, that we have all those books, where you indicate your presence in albergue, but it isn't enough for some of unfortunatelly.
Posters in albergue could help. But who will print them, then distribute and put on the wall?
Personally I would not mind to carry 10-20 posters and ask hospitaleros if they could place them somewhere in the hall. Just need someone to make a design and print HUGE amount of posters (if they should make ANY difference).
Anyway- my camino starts in 4 weeks, so I will give you an update on that.

Kuba.
 

oursonpolaire

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
#7
The standard of grafitti seems to have improved from 2005 to 2007, but much of it simply serves to be annoying.

One item of grafitti which delighted two friends from Fergus, Ontario, was a political one, urging some sort of autonomy for Leon, reading "Leon solo!" to which they would always cheerfully shout in response: "Castile con leche!"
 

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:
#8
Graffiti in Sydney during WYD

As the clock ticked over yesterday to the first day of World Youth Day celebrations, graffiti supporting the Pope was found scrawled on Sydney's Hyde Park War Memorial.

Painted on one side of the memorial was the slogan ''Ratzinger rules'', referring to Pope Benedict XVI's birth name of Josef Ratzinger.

Three other slogans, including ''God bless you diggers'', were also painted on the memorial, which has become a meeting place for pilgrims attending the six-day Catholic event.

Returned and Services League NSW president Don Rowe said despite the good sentiment, defacing a war memorial was an insult.
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#9
In Vega de Valcarce at my most collegial supper on the Camino, one Brazilian, two Argentinians, two Canadians, two Americans, and one Spaniard discussed the good, the bad, and the ugly of the pilgrimage. When I expressed my attitude on graffiti and the apparent disrespect of the youth of Spain for one of its great cultural icons, the Spaniard pointed out that it only takes one person, that the blame does not fall on the "youth of Spain"! At my advancing age, I learned something, and retracted my opinion. In another forum here, there is a discussion of the extensive Bahai graffiti. Some additional investigation by a pilgrim indicates that it is all the work of a single pilgrim who has revealed himself in comments in albergue guest books; the handwriting seems to match the graffiti.

Obviously, the 100 km marker is not the work of a single pilgrim, but in most cases, the blame should not be spread too widely.

A good pilgrimage can go bad with too many "should and shouldn't" thoughts, so I think I will ignore what I cannot change, pick up trash dropped by others, and continue to leave no trace of myself (except that pebble at the Iron Cross) as I walk.
 
#10
Now that I've got my password problems squared away (and a new user name, I used to be Patricia) I would like to comment on the graffiti issue. I think urban Americans (and I am one) have a far more negative view of graffiti than many Europeans. And one must admit that fin many European cities, like Madrid and some German cities, graffiti is endemic, and epidemic, even on historic buildings. My walking partner this spring on the VdlP is a British woman who has lived in Paris for 30 years. She took the graffiti we saw everywhere in stride. I, on the other hand, was shocked, even more so when I saw evidence of it on Camino structures as we walked north. In the United States, graffiti usually signals the presence of gangs, who "tag" their cryptic symbols. It is also illegal in most cities, and in mine, cans of spray paint must by law not be sold to anyone under the age of 18. I had to show proof of age to buy a can this summer, and I am 71! The Camino graffiti is generated by those walking, for the most part, like a woman I found in the act of writing her name with a red "sharpie", and with a stamp pad and a stamp, who left her marks everywhere. (She was European, not North American.) I told her she should not be doing this, and she shrugged. What to do? I don't know, unless each province through which a Camino passes starts a massive public education campaign against graffiti. It might be about as effective as the efforts to get pilgrims not to throw their trash along the way, especially in Galicia (with its hordes of school kid peregrinos). Like the garbage, I find the graffiti offensive, but then, it's taken my country years of public education efforts to get citizens to pick up their own garbage. And, it's taken laws, fines and public ridicule to get these efforts to be successful.
Mary Pat (formerly Patricia), upstate New York 8)
 

Jim

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006- Camino Portuguese
2008- Camino Frances
2009- Sanabres extension of the VDLP
2010- Camino Frances
2011- Camino Potuguese
2014- Camino Frances
2017- Camino Finisterre
#11
Well said, Mary Pat. You bring up very good issues!
 

omar504

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016,2017,2018
#13
The other thing that used to bug me was the practice of removing the metal kilometre markers inset in the camino markers. In the last 3 days (more than 100 klms) on the VDLP I saw only 1 that had its kilometre plate intact.
On the CF last year I also saw the 'tradition' of poking the cermic tile on the concrete pillars with those damn walking sticks which have metal tips. As a consequence may were chipped, defaced or completely destroyed by these morons
 

Jim

Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006- Camino Portuguese
2008- Camino Frances
2009- Sanabres extension of the VDLP
2010- Camino Frances
2011- Camino Potuguese
2014- Camino Frances
2017- Camino Finisterre
#16
>>>The other thing that used to bug me was the practice of removing the metal kilometre markers inset in the camino markers. In the last 3 days (more than 100 klms) on the VDLP I saw only 1 that had its kilometre plate intact.<<<

Yes, the Via de la Plata is particularly plagued by this. I was on the Sanabres extension during November 2009. It is a lonely trail, especially at some times of the year, and I think that makes it vulnerable to the imbeciles who feel compelled to take home some sort of "trophy."
Much needs to be done to teach people proper respect for property and for the value of leaving alone culturally significant items in general. We will all suffer as a result of these people because Spain does not have the money to keep up this sort of maintenance, not at this time with the implosion of the economy. And "wealthier" nations don't have the money either these days.
 

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