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Has the Camino lost its way?

Spiritual pilgrims rely on commercial opportunities to enjoy the spirit.
Recreational tourists rely on spiritual pilgrims to season their experience.
Success here is envied and hoped to be captured there.
If Heaven is overcrowded, do you want to stay in the other place?
In 4 lines Joe manages to sum up the complexity of the factors at play in today's Camino. Each one of us has our own desires about what we hope the Camino might be. Perhaps by trying to do the best we can to represent that as we make our way and being kind to those who join us and provide for us is a good way ahead for each of us as individuals. Who knows, it may well have a macro effect overall as well as a micro effect.
 
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My two cents worth here - pilgrimage for me is a walking into something deeper in myself. As we all know many are focused on the Spanish Caminos with its immensely supported infrastructures.. and it was walking my first two that I discovered a deeper self in me, that has now inspired me on discovering more all over Europe. As we know mostly people starting walking from their homes then ended in Santiago. For me now, even though there is less infrastructue and the costs are more (and I take a small unltralight tent in case), is the delight in walking all over Europe. I meet less pilgirms, it is scarier without the infrastructure and I am discovering more depth in myself.. I suspect it feels more like it may have for centries of pilgrims, I do not know...I do not need more Compostelas but the energy of the walk is there, I connect with "that which is larger than us" with every step, when I am not in my busy home life, where my daily job is to get up and put on my pack and start walking... and perhaps, like it is said in a couple of other traditions, might someday walk into the answer, whatever that might be...
 
I just read this article.

Here are some points in English:

"That pilgrims abandon the French path, which is the initial one, the most
traveled one, which comes from medieval origins, clearly worries us. It is
being abandoned because of this overcrowding that is caused by the tourist
desire of the institutions, especially Galician ones. "It is the forceful
opinion of Anselmo Reguera, president of the Association of Friends of the
Camino de León. "The Xunta de Galicia and the archbishopric of Santiago have
encouraged that by completing the last hundred kilometers the Compostela be
awarded. This has created an economic gap from Sarria to Santiago to obtain
the Compostela, and that is not pilgrims, they are hikers.

"The thing about one hundred kilometers to obtain the Compostela is not new,
it comes from 1948, but it is also true that this formula has been increasing
in recent years, so that people do not understand the Camino as we understood
it before as a complete route and take a tasting trail, which is the last
hundred kilometers," says José Ignacio Gutiérrez. A reflection shared by the
Camino Francés Federation. "The Xunta de Galicia has appropriated the Camino,
legally, and has carried out a tourist campaign under the pretext of the
Camino. It talks about historically non-existent paths and the popularity has
transferred it to tourist aspects.

I have always, do now and always will say that there is no right or wrong camino, just different ones with different experiences, costs, difficulty, culture, language, etc.

I took particular note of the comment by Sr. Gutierrez: ...people do not understand the Camino as we understood it before as a complete route..." I can't contest that in the sense that even for us, the camino of today has indeed changed in some ways dramatically from our first camino. And I know that at least for us, we have been seeking lesser walked paths in recent years, even though we always make a point of visiting one of the places on the Frances we hold so dear from our first camino.
Is this yet another "thing" of many lately, where we say, "I'm glad I got to experience it when...?"
 
St James' Way - Self-guided 4-7 day Walking Packages, Reading to Southampton, 110 kms
People do the Camino for many reasons. There are hikers. There are people seeking solitude after a trauma. There are tourists. Sello seekers. People seeking something to brag about. People who think there some sort of psychic energy in the physical path. And more.

There are also pilgrims in the traditional sense. If I were a devout Roman Catholic, I would probably feel that the cathedral should reserve the compostela for those folks, with appropriate requirements being something greater than a hundred kilometers.

As a person in general, I’d suggest the other certificate state the distance and the motivation. But since I didn’t even bother to wait for either certificate, maybe I don’t have a right to make the suggestion. :cool:
 
As a point of order I managed without a cell phone for at least 54 years and have yet to establish what exactly is the benefit of having one now. And if I’m careless enough to break my ankle on some backwoods trail I’d frankly be astonished if a taxi was the solution.
Indeed, those of us above 30 have all “managed” without cell phones. And as a ski patroller (and EMT), yes one can stabilize an ankle* and get someone out of a “backwoods” area (which describes very little of the Camino) without an ambulance. But while there are certainly downsides to having a cell phone turned on at all times, I have to admit I can’t really see the downside of having a cell phone to turn on for emergencies, or because you want to share a particular experience with a family member at night.

*Also, injuries are not necessarily the result of “carelessness.”
 
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People do the Camino for many reasons. There are hikers. There are people seeking solitude after a trauma. There are tourists. Sello seekers. People seeking something to brag about. People who think there some sort of psychic energy in the physical path. And more.

There are also pilgrims in the traditional sense. If I were a devout Roman Catholic, I would probably feel that the cathedral should reserve the compostela for those folks, with appropriate requirements being something greater than a hundred kilometers.

As a person in general, I’d suggest the other certificate state the distance and the motivation. But since I didn’t even bother to wait for either certificate, maybe I don’t have a right to make the suggestion. :cool:
There was a “Welcome Certificate” that did this but I don’t think they are routinely used, even if the person checks off “non-religious.” At least, I got a Compostela in December even though I was expecting the Welcome Certificate.
 
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Indeed, those of us above 30 have all “managed” without cell phones. And as a ski patroller (and EMT), yes one can stabilize an ankle* and get someone out of a “backwoods” area (which describes very little of the Camino) without an ambulance. But while there are certainly downsides to having a cell phone turned on at all times, I have to admit I can’t really see the downside of having a cell phone to turn on for emergencies, or because you want to share a particular experience with a family member at night.

*Also, injuries are not necessarily the result of “carelessness.”
At least on the CF in the high season there is almost always someone nearby with a cell phone so it can certainly be done without one. It is a choice.
 
There was a “Welcome Certificate” that did this but I don’t think they are routinely used, even if the person checks off “non-religious.” At least, I got a Compostela in December even though I was expecting the Welcome Certificate.
One of the forum members who volunteers in the Pilgrim's Office (I can't remember who it was) said that the "Welcome Certificate" is being phased out.
 
St James' Way - Self-guided 4-7 day Walking Packages, Reading to Southampton, 110 kms
I’d suggest the other certificate state the distance and the motivation. But since I didn’t even bother to wait for either certificate, maybe I don’t have a right to make the suggestion.
Just for clarification based on information from recent hospitaleros and recent pilgrims: There appear to be now, in 2024, only two certificates that pilgrim can request and receive: The Compostela and the Distance Certificate. Pilgrims do indicate their motivation when they apply online, together with their age and their profession and other personal data, but none of this appears on either certificate nor does it have any influence on the kind of certificate that they receive. This is different from earlier times a few years back.

The quote in the article says that the regional government of Galicia and the Archbishopric of Santiago have created the 100 km rule and this has encouraged people to do only 100 km and it has created an economic niche between Sarria and Santiago and these people are excursionists and not pilgrims in the opinion of the speaker who is the president of the Association of Friends of the Camino de León. He is obviously entitled to his opinion.

I myself don't quite follow the logic of the argument that the author of the article had in mind - provided he had one and did not just lump various quotes together. OK, so there is massification after Sarria and these are not the right-minded pilgrims. What does this have to do with the pilgrims who walk through the region of Leon and who started long before Sarria?
 
OK, so there is massification after Sarria and these are not the right minded pilgrims. What does this have to do with the pilgrims who walk through the region of Leon?
I read that as a very questionable suggestion that if these "excursionists" had not been encouraged to start from Sarria by the 100km rule then they would have chosen instead to begin their journey somewhere further back on the Camino Frances. Two objections to that spring immediately to my mind. Firstly what is the evidence that they would have chosen to walk any part of a Camino if a short and easy option had not been offered to them? And secondly the assumption that these people would have automatically gravitated towards the Camino Frances is outdated as people increasingly choose other routes like the Portugues.
 
I understand some of the feelings about the 100 km rule for getting a Compostela and have myself seen and felt the energetic changes that comes with so many more people showing up at the 100 km mark after having walked hundreds.... Has anyone considered that many people simply are not able to do 800 km? I know that I am now able but for several years with a very bad knee and I was too young to get my knee replacement (that I now happily have so I AM walking hundreds of km) walking even 100 km was unachievable. I could only walk less than 100 m at a time until my pain was unbearable. I invite compassion and welcoming to all those pilgrims and walkers, however they are able to walk, even if it is "only" 100 km...
 
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As a point of order I managed without a cell phone for at least 54 years and have yet to establish what exactly is the benefit of having one now. And if I’m careless enough to break my ankle on some backwoods trail I’d frankly be astonished if a taxi was the solution.

And, and I appreciate I’m pushing the forums boundaries here but, wtf has a business owner’s commercial decisions on where they locate their enterprise to do with Camino? “If I build it they will divert pilgrims my way”?

I get seriously exercised by the concepts that the Camino should, the “authorities” should, they “the amorphous unknown all powerful someone” should. The only, one and only, person who has any responsibility for anything on Camino is the individual that undertakes it.
I disagree. Are drivers the people responsible for maintaining the highway, or deciding which way the road goes? PIlgrims, business owners, and the people who live along the Way are all heirs to a thousand-year-old pathway full of culture, tradition, artwork and stories. They all have a part to play in maintaining the trail and all it entails. I agree that "somebody ought to..." is short-sighted thinking by people who don't know what they're talking about. This trail was here a long time before we arrived. It's up to us --- not just the people undertaking the camino -- to keep it in shape for the next gang to come along.
 
Well, things are different now. People are walking the Portuguese for several reasons. It is shorter for one than starting in SJPDP. It is also easier to get to Porto,. It does walk through a beautiful landscape (or so I have heard since I have not walked that way myself.) Other routes also have beautiful landscapes and while I love the CF, some people want more of the ocean or the mountains...

Also after Covid, more people do want private rooms and in general just seem less satisfied with a "place to sleep" which may not include a private room, sheets, blankets, towels and a private bathroom. They want the certainty of a reservation. It is sometimes hard for me personally to hear that pilgrims are not grateful for what is offered, but I can only police myself and not everyone else.

I just took a group of university students on the last 115 km of the CF. It rained a lot. We stayed in Xunta albergues which they seemed to like at the time, but their post-Camino reflections reveal the dissatisfaction of not having their own space and privacy so I expect if they walked again they might not choose albergues despite the thriftiness of communal living.
👌
 
The 9th edition the Lightfoot Guide will let you complete the journey your way.
I agree completely, 100%, absolutely. I am verging on what cannot be written about on here, but - a pilgrimage is a process, an internal/external process, it isn't something that can be Googled to know the answer, or be done in a hiking holiday way ... a pilgrimage is an ancient deep internal process .. a process that commonly doesn't belong to this modern world, the world that believes you can just take something off a shelf, buy it, and experience it ...

Traditionally pilgrimage is religious and, I say again, it is a process, a mainly internal process - a process that is killed dead by using phones to stay in contact with 'home' and take useless photographs, and earbud music and getting online in the evening ..

It is very like this, pilgrimage ... if anyone goes into a retreat, monastic Christian or Buddhist or Yogic, the first thing that happens is that they take away your phones, your tablets, your earbud music, your fiction books - as the monks know that you cannot be there and process through the retreat if you are not there with only you and your mind and whatever thoughts and connection that comes.
This is the ideal of pilgrimage .. everything else is bucket list hiking. So I understand exactly what they are saying, I have been saying it for twenty years now, sadly watching the holiday bucket list hike take over from the pilgrimage that it is supposed to be.

This isn't an attack on hikers - I know they enjoy their holidays, nor is it a call to join a religion - it is about being human, the deeper questions; the riddle of existence, of what we are, why we are, even where we are, that which wakes us at three in the morning, questioning one's life, the why of it ... and if a human enters the Camino as a pilgrim and these are uppermost in their minds ... it can lead to something quite wonderful.
Yes!
 
My first Camino was in early September leaving from SJPP. I only met five other Americans the entire way. There was a quiet, steady progress to Santiago and only with the merging of routes did the numbers seem to pick up significantly. It was a life changing experience. I carried my pack the whole way, stayed in albergues and wept when I arrived at the Cathedral. I was shocked when I returned in 2019 by the changes over 10 years. There was more of a party atmosphere, few carried packs, and Americans were among the worst—rude, entitled and loud with talk, phones and music. I agree with David. The Camino can change your life if and when you embrace it and let go of what binds you to everything else. The constant noise and trash strewn by pilgrims is tough to overcome.
 
I am confident that 2022 was still an exception and not a trend.
Leon.jpg
As expected: It is March, the Leon Camino association have published their data and analysis for the previous year, have given a press conference, and the first headlines have been written. Far from losing pilgrims, the total number increased in 2023 by 20% compared to the previous year and stands at 39,847 - similar to 10 years ago.

I had a quick look at two relevant news articles. There is a lack of clarity as to who is counted. The actual number of Camino pilgrims passing through Leon or starting in Leon was higher than 40,000 in 2023.
 
The 2024 Camino guides will be coming out little by little. Here is a collection of the ones that are out so far.

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