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Is the Camino for the poor??

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2014 Pamplona to Burgos, 2017 SJDP to Santiago,
At least we are willing to discuss the fact that there is a great difference in peoples lives the important thing is how we deal with it . At least on this forum we discuss it with compassion and respect . Unlike some holiday forums where they just ask what the weather will be like for their holiday !
I did walk and meet a young man from Italy walking without shoes and money seeing if he could reach Santiago I helped him on his way not sure if he was poor but he was brave !
 

MinaKamina

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Jacobspad 2017
The camino is for everyone.


Can you be a pilgrim without money? In Spain or France, yes...

On my Camino Primitivo I met a French pilgrim (student in medicine) who started his camino at home without money (and no smartphone and no passport)... not because he had no money or because he could not get money from his family but to "find (deeper) trust in god".

If there was no donativo albergue he slept normally under a roof, e. g. in the entrance of a church, on his isomat. Other people or pilgrims gave him the necessary food or he sat down for begging for some time.

He was an interesting pilgrim and I invited him in a bar... and we had a nice time.

In my extended Thai family in Thailand it is customary that one or more males become beggar monk (bhikkhu) for a while. They will be sent off with a big feast, and after that, they'll have to live off alms. Yet the main aim is to live a holy life. The way I understand it, it is also a rite de passage of sorts.

It is of course different if this is customary. Perhaps scary, but you are not on your own and your surroundings are used to this. To leave your house behind and put yourself at the mercy of strangers for months and thousand kms to go would be quite the leap of faith.

I guess this student felt at ease with the concept of mendicant orders in western Catholicism.
 
Past OR future Camino
2017
I read the OP and have kept up with comments (I think) over time. The question, though I respect the author, leaves me a bit non-plussed even yet.

As simply as I can state my position, "No matter your circumstance, no matter your attitude, should your feet meet the Camino, it is for you."

Sure, that might sound cavalier BUT, last I checked, there are no litmus tests to walk the Way.

Not for material means - which are no one's business but your own.

Not for political/faith affiliation - again, personal.

Not for "right" attitude - difficult to gauge really, as that can be changed by three or four days of awful weather. (Or nice weather if one started in rain or snow...)

Not even for "good health" - as many of us have met unfit (some even dying) pilgrims along the way.

These traits, and others to a lesser degree, CAN be filters (expectations?) which each soul brings to their walk. And, they are not helpful, IMHO...

The Camino just "is". It has had booms, busts, and periods of mediocre devotion.

Who is on it, and why, are best left to the answer of Divine Providence or the Benevolence of Universe - whichever floats your boat.

B
 
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Former member 99290

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The camino is for everyone.


Can you be a pilgrim without money? In Spain or France, yes...

On my Camino Primitivo I met a French pilgrim (student in medicine) who started his camino at home without money (and no smartphone and no passport)... not because he had no money or because he could not get money from his family but to "find (deeper) trust in god".

If there was no donativo albergue he slept normally under a roof, e. g. in the entrance of a church, on his isomat. Other people or pilgrims gave him the necessary food or he sat down for begging for some time.

He was an interesting pilgrim and I invited him in a bar... and we had a nice time.
It's just an aside and to offer another perspective - I didn't find anything offensive about this story of the medical student. I may have misread or perhaps I'm naive, but from @martin1ws wrote, I didn't conclude that the pilgrim was pretending or that he was disrespectful to those who helped him.

Martin reports that the pilgrim made a conscious decision to walk without various things - money, smartphone, passport - to 'find (deeper) trust in god'. And he obviously was open about that or Martin would not have known - and he may well have been similarly honest with the donativo hospitaleros or made a donation from euros others had offered him. I just took the story at face value

Over the years I have met 2 or 3 pilgrims who have approached their pilgrimage in a similar way. And found them to be interesting, respectful ... and appreciative. And, I'd add, from that very small sample, all seemed to have a strong religious basis for their pilgrimage.
 

wayfarer

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
2012, 2013, 2014.
It's just an aside and to offer another perspective - I didn't find anything offensive about this story of the medical student. I may have misread or perhaps I'm naive, but from @martin1ws wrote, I didn't conclude that the pilgrim was pretending or that he was disrespectful to those who helped him.

Martin reports that the pilgrim made a conscious decision to walk without various things - money, smartphone, passport - to 'find (deeper) trust in god'. And he obviously was open about that or Martin would not have known - and he may well have been similarly honest with the donativo hospitaleros or made a donation from euros others had offered him. I just took the story at face value

Over the years I have met 2 or 3 pilgrims who have approached their pilgrimage in a similar way. And found them to be interesting, respectful ... and appreciative. And, I'd add, from that very small sample, all seemed to have a strong religious basis for their pilgrimage.
Life and experience's have made me cynical in my latter years, I supported charities that later got into trouble when some of the directors lined their own pockets so I tend to value honesty above all at this stage but I love that you can see the good in this story. 🙏
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino's Frances, Fisterre, Portuges. Over 180 day
Is walking the Camino de Santiago something accessible to the faithful poor from all parts of the world who are aware of it? Can they afford to do it? Do they have the time and means to do it?
Absolutely not.
Really not debatable.
 
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Former member 99290

Guest
Life and experience's have made me cynical in my latter years, I supported charities that later got into trouble when some of the directors lined their own pockets so I tend to value honesty above all at this stage but I love that you can see the good in this story. 🙏
I understand. And I tend not to be cynical or at least I choose not to be. I like to think of myself as an optimistic realist or should that be a realistic optimist. And I agree about the value of honesty, right up there with kindness - I think that was my point - the pilgrim did not appear to be trying to hide anything. Anyhoo ... we don't know him, so who can say ...
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino's Frances, Fisterre, Portuges. Over 180 day
I'm not expecting pristine conditions on the camino. It will be a different scenario than backpacking in the wilds
I have done wilderness backpacking trips and field operations in the army. Heavy backpack, food etc. Sleeping on the ground, rain or shine, heat and cold. Walking the Camino is nothing like that. You really cannot compare the two. Apples and oranges. I never wanted for anything on the Camino and was never really physically uncomfortable, especially knowing I had a place to sleep in every night, shower and eat. As we used to say, three hots and a cot.
 
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Andpartner

Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Frances September/October (2014)
I think it’s about time as well. i can’t imagine how anyone who is materially poor can afford to take 6 weeks away from their lives and responsibilities and return to the place they left and pick their lives up again. Most poor people are living much more ‘hand to mouth’ to be able to pay rent for a place they are not living in. They may not have paid holidays. They will often have insecure employment. Very interesting thread though.
 

MichelleElynHogan

Veteran Member
I think it’s about time as well. i can’t imagine how anyone who is materially poor can afford to take 6 weeks away from their lives and responsibilities and return to the place they left and pick their lives up again. Most poor people are living much more ‘hand to mouth’ to be able to pay rent for a place they are not living in. They may not have paid holidays. They will often have insecure employment. Very interesting thread though.
Should the following be of benefit, then the writing of it has been given purpose.

I learned a very important lesson from a friend, many years ago." Never look into someone else's rice bowl." The premise of this tome is that no one really has a right to judge anyone. We have seen this a lot the last few years. Yet, we have also seen the worst of humanity in those who go so completely out of their way to inject their judgement into the lives of those around them.

Alternately, if we do judge, we leave ourselves open to like actions toward ourselves.

Again, as mentioned before, the circumstance of others is not our purview. In Christian thought and instruction, God states, "Judgement is mine." It is so in Islam as well. In the Baha'i Faith, an individual's spirit determines their capacity to grow in Faith. Judgement of others is simply not something that is done.

Irrespective of religious views, equality will always be determined by our personal ability to respect others first, over any attempt to skew the lives of others this way or that.

On the Camino, we walk for many reasons, as many as there are stars in the sky. It is designed to test our body first, then our mind, then our spirit. At day's end, after doing our best, the only judgement that has any worth is that which we put upon ourselves.
 

camino.ninja

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances 5 6,16,17,18,19,20
Primiti+Salvador 19
Portug. 17,18,20
Catalan 17
Norte 17
Plata 18
Further more to my 'Beggar in Pamplona' Post ' I recall about 12 years ago a young man who was in his underwear fishing just after the well known Pamplona city bridge , the Gaurda took him away , obviously he was a 'vagrant' or was he?Hopefully he was taken out of town and sent on his way? He could have been from many countries away.
So often do we ask , where are the best albergues , the the best food. We spend hundreds of £ or $ for fights and we expect the 'tourist' experience , 20 years ago during my first camino it was a tad different , I just wonder if we have lost the plot?
It almost seems that those who do not have the means are vagabonds? Who is the Camino for!? Sharing and you may with pleasure come back to me.

The pricing is not for everyone, but the camino is.

Prices has gone up a lot during Holy Year and The Pandemic.
 

WGroleau

Wandering Weirdo
Past OR future Camino
2015 & 2016 (partial)
… a young man who was in his underwear fishing just after the well known Pamplona city bridge , the Gaurda took him away , obviously he was a 'vagrant' or was he? Hopefully he was taken out of town and sent on his way? He could have been from many countries away.
I would suspect the reason they "took him away" was that they considered it inappropriate to be in only underwear in public. But I don't know; maybe fishing at that location was the problem.

As for vagrancy, IF Spain has laws against it, I think that would be unreasonable, but I can't expect them to say "except if going to Santiago."
 

Barbara

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, Norte (twice)and Primitivo, Sureste, In France From home Tours and Vézelay, also Le Puy.
Well, that's all been interesting. I suspect we are mostly in violent agreement. Being all humans with our prejudices, rational and irrational likes and dislikes, different backgrounds and cultures. Some of us seem rather set in our opinions, and perhaps seem to think there is only one way to do a thing.
I'll channel my inner Cromwell (who wasn't usually afflicted with self doubts) here
"I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken"
Yes, all of us please. That's including me. Whatever your definition of poverty, remember that people (rich and poor) have been traveling to worship at the tomb of Saint James for many years now. Some start as tourists and finish as pilgrims, some have a healthy and cheap holiday. Our motivations are our own.
I've met people who have helped me, and I've tried to help others. I try not to judge, and sometimes I succeed, I think. I'm human, and as fallible as any other human. My way might be the right way. I don't know.
 
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I think it’s about time as well. i can’t imagine how anyone who is materially poor can afford to take 6 weeks away from their lives and responsibilities and return to the place they left and pick their lives up again. Most poor people are living much more ‘hand to mouth’ to be able to pay rent for a place they are not living in. They may not have paid holidays. They will often have insecure employment. Very interesting thread though.

Probably useful here to distinguish those who are in low income groups from those who are more generally marginalized.

We see plenty of young people on camino routes for weeks and weeks at a time. I’ve met as many in the 20-30 age-range as I have in the 60+ (who may be on fixed incomes).

In each of these two groups, other material considerations (housing, healthcare, education etc) may be pretty secure. For the young, it is often because the family of origin is still providing those things; for those of us who are older, it is because the expense of acquiring a home is behind us and we have held jobs that secured access to healthcare as part of the deal.

We can, therefore, easily see people on caminos who have to be very budget conscious, but who do not have to worry about time. For the retirees, the sabbaticants, the teachers on seasonal holidays, time is relatively free and unstructured. For the young, they may be on “gap years”, or taking time out in a career shift, or celebrating a major achievement before taking up the reigns on a career that will be very demanding. I have met all such youth on camino, and they all needed the budget friendliness of minicipal and parochial lodgings, pilgrim food budgets, communal kitchens etc.

Far more rare, I think (in 3 caminos) is the phenomenon of the person who can spend the fees of a guided group, “first class” airfares, trains and so forth. I met one senior woman who had hired her own guide to arrange everything for her and to accompany her for 3 weeks… nothing but hotels, and no thinking of her own to do. But she stands out as the absolute exception. I met a group of 15 walkers on a tour — all from Miami and wearing their tennis bracelets, matching sun visors, etc. And I have heard, of course, of services that cater to paying groups who can afford to pay someone else to think for them. These have made up a very very slim margin at the tail end of the high amounts spent on camino.

Finally, by contrast to the low-income but economically stable examples above (who need to be budget conscious but who are not “poor”), I have met a handful of “permanent pilgrims” — fewer still than the slim margin of ”1-percenters”. I have spoken with a few and shared my lunch (I often pick up the day-old snacks in the grocery bakeries — little breads stuffed with tuna and chicken — I think that a bag of 10 costs me about 1.5 euros). They have told me that they find a muni or a parochial where they can stay, doing chores and errands in exchange for lodging for a few weeks at a time. Some have secured places that they care for over the winter when the albergues are closed but need maintenance. Those I have met have not been Spanish; they have been largely from places like the Ukraine, Germany and France. They have spoken at least 2, sometimes 3 languages… and have encountered life traumas that have left them estranged from family, but still with skills to manage a rather peripatetic life. Addiction, mental health issues might be along for the journey with them.

I sometimes fear, as the OP seemed to be asking, that the “My camino!!” types (the ones who think that paying a given price for admission means that they are entitled to a turbulence-free ride) will muscle out those on the bottom end of the socio-economic ladder. On camino, I have seen some shocking displays of arrogance born of financial privilege — the kind that forgets that the camino was not built to serve them… that we must earn our places on the road through reciprocal kindness, patience with difference, and the wisdom to walk on from rather than seeking to *eject* that which we find uncomfortable.
 
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andylm65

Member
Past OR future Camino
2018
Further more to my 'Beggar in Pamplona' Post ' I recall about 12 years ago a young man who was in his underwear fishing just after the well known Pamplona city bridge , the Gaurda took him away , obviously he was a 'vagrant' or was he?Hopefully he was taken out of town and sent on his way? He could have been from many countries away.
So often do we ask , where are the best albergues , the the best food. We spend hundreds of £ or $ for fights and we expect the 'tourist' experience , 20 years ago during my first camino it was a tad different , I just wonder if we have lost the plot?
It almost seems that those who do not have the means are vagabonds? Who is the Camino for!? Sharing and you may with pleasure come back to me.
Who is poor? Poor in what way? Of little means, or poor in spirit? It seems to me that the Camino is for those who desire to do it. Our whole lives are paths ñ. Sometimes our lives lead us to the Camino or another such pilgrimage, no?
 

PJN

New Member
Past OR future Camino
-
There’s no possibility of starting El Camino ftom a foreign country , needing to fly , if one is technically poor
Otherwise this thread has enlightened me that my next Camino will include more donations of food etc to likely “vagrants “ the like of which I didn’t especially notice the last time.

The original idea of the Refugio was a roof dwelling under which a pilgrim could sleep safely
Presumably the pilgrims many years ago were especially on a genuine pilgrimage to the grave of St James- probably much poorer than those currently.

However currently the Way these days is a substantial employer of many people - a great bonus for isolated villages.
❌
 

Bradypus

Migratory hermit
Past OR future Camino
Too many and too often!
The original idea of the Refugio was a roof dwelling under which a pilgrim could sleep safely
Presumably the pilgrims many years ago were especially on a genuine pilgrimage to the grave of St James- probably much poorer than those currently.
Not so very long ago. On my first Camino Frances a number of refugios were quite literally bare shelters without furniture where pilgrims could lay out a mat and sleeping bag on the floor. Many refugios were donativo and some even refused donations altogether. Given the scarcity of private rooms it wasn't really a division between rich and poor. If you wanted to walk the whole way without vehicle support then the refugios were where you stayed in many villages.
However currently the Way these days is a substantial employer of many people - a great bonus for isolated villages.
That is certainly true. I can remember passing through Foncebadon when only one building was still occupied by a solitary elderly lady. Gronze now lists 8 albergues or hostals in what was until quite recently a ghost town. Probably the most dramatic example of the revival of villages directly on the route of the Frances.
 

Stephan the Painter

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances 2022
And I wonder, if it was ever so? Were people who were defined as poor who lived in Europe in the middle ages able to walk the Camino? Probably not. It still took substantial resources.

It’s an interesting question, possibly without answers, since history is usually the history of rich and powerful people anyway.
 
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Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances; Aragones; VdlP; Madrid-Invierno; Levante
And I wonder, if it was ever so? Were people who were defined as poor who lived in Europe in the middle ages able to walk the Camino? Probably not. It still took substantial resources.

It’s an interesting question, possibly without answers, since history is usually the history of rich and powerful people anyway.

We can get some information about those who travelled the Camino de Santiago in the Middle Ages from the 12th century Codex Calixtinus, chapter two. This chapter lists the stages which pilgrims travelled from the borders of Spain at Somport and Port de Cize (the valley where St Jean pied de Port is located) to Santiago. When describing the fourth stage, the author comments (in a Spanish translation of the Latin): "La cuarta, evidentemente para andarla a caballo, es desde Estella hasta la ciudad de Najera." Note 19 comments that "La etape de Estella a Najera es de setenta y cinco km." (Codice Callixtino. Libro V, Siglo XII. Guio del Peregrino Medieval. Editora Alvarellos, p. 92. It is reasonable to conclude that the 75 km journey which the Codex states must have been taken on horseback: "a caballo" could only have been accomplished by those wealthy enough to make their pilgrimage on horses.
 

RENSHAW

Official Camino Vino taster
Past OR future Camino
2003 CF Roncesvalles to Santiago
2/4 weeks on the CF frequently.
Hospitalero San Anton June 2016.
There’s no possibility of starting El Camino ftom a foreign country , needing to fly , if one is technically poor
Otherwise this thread has enlightened me that my next Camino will include more donations of food etc to likely “vagrants “ the like of which I didn’t especially notice the last time.

The original idea of the Refugio was a roof dwelling under which a pilgrim could sleep safely
Presumably the pilgrims many years ago were especially on a genuine pilgrimage to the grave of St James- probably much poorer than those currently.

However currently the Way these days is a substantial employer of many people - a great bonus for isolated villages.
❌
I have come across many Pilgrims that have walked from their homes with only a few €s in their pockets. Be it from Western or Eastern Europe and far further afield. They have no way of affording a flight. Most ARE willing to work and may stop off for a week or so and work somewhere?
I do like your idea about an invite to share some food and help out without belittling such a Pilgrim , a great gesture - Most of these Pilgrims never ask for anything , they just Pray to God for divine intervention.
My main evening meals were chiefly my own cooked pasta , many times I would cook for two especially if I noticed a person in need - 'Would you like to join me for dinner , I seemed to have cooked far too much' If not it would be my breakfast.
However I have seen people sneer and even suggest that the Pilgrim should have rather stayed at home?
No , one can be a rich or poor spiritual but surprisingly (And not you) there are many forum members that are genuinely ignorant to the fact that these poor pilgrims even exist?
 
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Reidun Fyno

I'm a beliver :-)
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Camino Frances (2014)
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Camino Frances from Villafranca del Bierzo (2017)
Further more to my 'Beggar in Pamplona' Post ' I recall about 12 years ago a young man who was in his underwear fishing just after the well known Pamplona city bridge , the Gaurda took him away , obviously he was a 'vagrant' or was he?Hopefully he was taken out of town and sent on his way? He could have been from many countries away.
So often do we ask , where are the best albergues , the the best food. We spend hundreds of £ or $ for fights and we expect the 'tourist' experience , 20 years ago during my first camino it was a tad different , I just wonder if we have lost the plot?
It almost seems that those who do not have the means are vagabonds? Who is the Camino for!? Sharing and you may with pleasure come back to me.
I met a man on my Camino, who walked without money. He had very little clothes, a sleeping bag, his mobile phone and nothing else in his backpack. He did not beg, but sometimes people gave him money, food et cetera. You could call him a vagabond; but he had his personal reasons for doing this, and I think it was very honorable and brave. Of course he sometimes spend the night outside, and sometimes he was very hungry. I met him now and then during my Camino and I helped him out sometimes, but he always gave me something in return, like showed me a beautiful place or tell me about an experience.
It depends on the reason for walking. For many people the Camino is a feast. You want to get physical stronger, eat well and drink red wine, and that is OK - only I think it would be nice if more people had the spiritual reason for walking, which was the original Camino.
The spirit of the Camino should be acceptance and compassion. The other things you can get in so many other places.
 

good_old_shoes

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Francés ('15, '19)
Via Coloniensis ('16)
Trier-Nancy + Le Puy-Fisterra ('17)
Aragonés ('18)
I met several people walking with little or no money. Repeating the mantra of "a poor person wouldn't be able to afford a camino" doesn't help, they definitely do exist. You probably just haven't seen them yet - either because you expected to see someone fitting your stereotypes and they didn't, or because you stayed at different kinds of establishments, or both. With the forum now often giving the advice to bring a daily budget of 50-70 Euros, even for the Francés, I guess it is easy to not meet the poor. They probably won't be found in single rooms at hotels or around the dinner table for a nice menu del dia in a restaurant...

For those of you who can afford it, maybe consider cooking a meal in a municipal albergue and sharing it with others from time to time, even if you have enough money to get the pilgrim's menu or menu del dia in a restaurant each day. You can feed yourself as well as a couple other pilgrims for the same amount of money you'd spend on the menu (or even less), and might accidentally help someone to get a meal who needs the help but doesn't dare to ask for it. I've shared meals that way, and could afford it even on my tight budget. Doesn't have to be anything fancy. A pack of pasta only costs 1,50 or so! Add some tomato sauce and vegetables and it's fine. If you have a bottle of cheap wine to spare also, even better!

If you make dinner at the albergue and ask "who is hungry? I'll cook!" you'll almost always make someone happy who is less fortunate than yourself, without making them feel uncomfortable. If the kitchen is closed for covid, some bread, cheese, fresh vegetables and olives make a nice cold meal outside on a picknick bench. If nobody wants to join, you can still put the food into the albergue fridge with a label with the date and "for everyone" so that the next day's pilgrims can enjoy it.

Another thing you can do is buy supplies for the albergue kitchens (again, if they're open). Simple ingredients like pasta, rice, olive oil, salt, vinegar. It's always nice to find those. Easy to do, not much work apart from walking to the supermercado, and not expensive, but very helpful for those on a very tight budget.
 
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peregrin peregrina

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april 2022
I met several people walking with little or no money. Repeating the mantra of "a poor person wouldn't be able to afford a camino" doesn't help, they definitely do exist. You probably just haven't seen them yet - either because you expected to see someone fitting your stereotypes and they didn't, or because you stayed at different kinds of establishments, or both. With the forum now often giving the advice to bring a daily budget of 50-70 Euros, even for the Francés, I guess it is easy to not meet the poor. They probably won't be found in single rooms at hotels or around the dinner table for a nice menu del dia in a restaurant...

For those of you who can afford it, maybe consider cooking a meal in a municipal albergue and sharing it with others from time to time, even if you have enough money to get the pilgrim's menu or menu del dia in a restaurant each day. You can feed yourself as well as a couple other pilgrims for the same amount of money you'd spend on the menu (or even less), and might accidentally help someone to get a meal who needs the help but doesn't dare to ask for it. I've shared meals that way, and could afford it even on my tight budget. Doesn't have to be anything fancy. A pack of pasta only costs 1,50 or so! Add some tomato sauce and vegetables and it's fine. If you have a bottle of cheap wine to spare also, even better!

If you make dinner at the albergue and ask "who is hungry? I'll cook!" you'll almost always make someone happy who is less fortunate than yourself, without making them feel uncomfortable. If the kitchen is closed for covid, some bread, cheese, fresh vegetables and olives make a nice cold meal outside on a picknick bench. If nobody wants to join, you can still put the food into the albergue fridge with a label with the date and "for everyone" so that the next day's pilgrims can enjoy it.

Another thing you can do is buy supplies for the albergue kitchens (again, if they're open). Simple ingredients like pasta, rice, olive oil, salt, vinegar. It's always nice to find those. Easy to do, not much work apart from walking to the supermercado, and not expensive, but very helpful for those on a very tight budget.
50-70 euros per day! for making your own meals and staying in municipal or church-run albergues?
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
2012
50-70 euros per day! for making your own meals and staying in municipal or church-run albergues?
Nope. 50-70 euros a day for staying in hotels, eating in restaurants and drinking unspeakable amounts of Orujo….
Perhaps the question should be can the comfortably off middle-classes still walk a Camino and boast to their friends about how cheap it was. Like Thailand before the tourists got there
 

David

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
First one in 2005 from Moissac, France.
Not many (none) comments from the poor on this thread - why? because on here none of us are poor, we are all privileged .. just having the laptop and internet connection proves we are privileged. That we can not only go on Camino but become regular returners demonstrates that none of us are poor - sure, perhaps poorer than that person 'over there', but not poor.

I think that not having the poor responding to this post means that not only do the poor not go on Camino, they don't go on the internet to talk about it either.
 
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I think that not having the poor responding to this post means that not only do the poor not go on Camino, they don't go on the internet to talk about it either.
Wow, what an eye opener, @David. I never gave this a thought, but you are so right. Most of us here on this forum live in a privileged bubble world that we take for granted. Even those who pinch pennies to go on a Camino have the pennies to pinch. Thanks for the reality check.
 
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jpflavin1

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Camino Madrid/San Salvador/Primitivo-2021
Poor; lacking sufficient money to live at a standard considered comfortable or normal in a society.

After reading this entire thread, I decided to look up the definition of the word poor. The definition leads to, imo, the need to then define the words comfortable, normal and in what society.

We all have different life experiences. Those experiences and the culture we exist in create our own understanding of these words.

Imo, the only way to answer the original question is to have an agreed upon understanding of what "Poor" means.

One thing, I believe, we all have in common is a love for the Camino and with that a belief that the Camino is for anyone who wants to walk.
 

nycwalking

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Ourense to Santiago (2019), CF: (2014, 2004, 2002, 2001). On to Fisterra, (2002, 4, 14).
Nope. 50-70 euros a day for staying in hotels, eating in restaurants and drinking unspeakable amounts of Orujo….
Perhaps the question should be can the comfortably off middle-classes still walk a Camino and boast to their friends about how cheap it was. Like Thailand before the tourists got there

In 2001, Spain was using the peseta.

I don’t recall exchange rate but I know the dollar was stronger.

Refugios averaged 3 peseta nightly. A very nice hotel in Pamplona was around 30 peseta. I remember a waiter in Trinidad de Arre telling mom and me that was very expensive. Using American dollars not so much for we two. Also, price at clean private hostals 15-20 pesetas.

From Roncesvalles to Santiago my mom and I may have spent a thousand dollars between us including: bus, train, taxi, food. Our lodging consisted of refugios, hostals, and hotels was also part of thousand dollar expense. We simply couldn’t fathom how inexpensive the trip was.

In 2002 euro. Refugios 3 euro. About 3 dollars. More expensive. As was everything else. Yet, still very affordable. However, overall cost about 35 to 40 percent higher than 2001.

By 2019 average albergue 10 euro. Up went all other needs and wants and incidentals. Not yet cost prohibitive by any means.

However, if camino truly begins to average 50 or 60 euro a day that is going to dent some middle-class pilgrims pockets.

We shall see.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012
Refugios averaged 3 peseta nightly. A very nice hotel in Pamplona was around 30 peseta. I remember a waiter in Trinidad de Arre telling mom and me that was very expensive. Using American dollars not so much for we two. Also, price at clean private hostals 15-20 pesetas.
If I am reading this site correctly, in 2001, US$1 was worth about 190 pesetas. Are you saying that the price for a nice hotel in Pamplona was about US$0.15 per night?
 

David

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
First one in 2005 from Moissac, France.
Poor; lacking sufficient money to live at a standard considered comfortable or normal in a society.

After reading this entire thread, I decided to look up the definition of the word poor. The definition leads to, imo, the need to then define the words comfortable, normal and in what society.

We all have different life experiences. Those experiences and the culture we exist in create our own understanding of these words.

Imo, the only way to answer the original question is to have an agreed upon understanding of what "Poor" means.

One thing, I believe, we all have in common is a love for the Camino and with that a belief that the Camino is for anyone who wants to walk.
Good point. In the UK Poverty is classified as those households living on less than 50% of the average national income, which is a ridiculous formula
If there is a wage increase for the middle classes or 5 billionaires move to the UK then that point moves and we get "50,000 more families living in poverty" as an attack on government policies. Whereas their lives are in fact unchanged.

What I have noticed here in the UK is that it costs a lot more to be poor than it used to. The basic cost of living has risen so much over recent years, with wages lagging behind, that we have families where both adults work but they still have to go to food banks just to get by. I think those people are a bit too busy to even fantasise about going on a pilgrimage.
 
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Molly Cassidy

Travelling light
Past OR future Camino
Starting May 2023 from St Jean Pied de Port
Not many (none) comments from the poor on this thread - why? because on here none of us are poor, we are all privileged .. just having the laptop and internet connection proves we are privileged. That we can not only go on Camino but become regular returners demonstrates that none of us are poor - sure, perhaps poorer than that person 'over there', but not poor.

I think that not having the poor responding to this post means that not only do the poor not go on Camino, they don't go on the internet to talk about it either.
You don't need a laptop to access the internet. Many poor people do access the internet through cheap phones and public wi-fi connections. I don't see how you can know whether people are poor or not.
 

Bristle Boy

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
2022
This thread has been an interesting read and I have found it difficult to arrive at a binary answer yes or no.
It depends on your definition of poor (or poverty).
My definition of someone who is financially poor (for what its worth) is someone who doesn't have the financial resources to meet the basic needs (shelter,heating,food) of life and certainly have no excess funds for anything else.
If this be the case then a camino is out of the question.
I have always taught my children that money, in itself, is worthless. It is only a form of barter and gives you choices. If you have none then your choices are limited and in some cases nil.
I have attempted to calculate the "true" cost (in financial terms) of me being absent from home. These standing costs are ongoing whether I am there or not and still have to be paid (Community charge/standing charge for electricity and gas and other direct debits)that I would derive no benefit from in my absence.
I am lucky...using the financial definition of poor i am able to make choices. I am poorer than some and "better off" than many.
To address the question of whether a camino is achievable if poor....my feelings are..
not without subsistence and assistance from others.
 
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Bradypus

Migratory hermit
Past OR future Camino
Too many and too often!
If I am reading this site correctly, in 2001, US$1 was worth about 190 pesetas. Are you saying that the price for a nice hotel in Pamplona was about US$0.15 per night?
The rate at the time of the switch to euro notes and coins in March 2002 was 166 pesetas = 1 euro. I think there are a couple of zeros missing in @nycwalking's post. I can recall 200 pesetas being a fairly standard refugio donation in 1990.
 
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Molly Cassidy

Travelling light
Past OR future Camino
Starting May 2023 from St Jean Pied de Port
This thread has been an interesting read and I have found it difficult to arrive at a binary answer yes or no.
It depends on your definition of poor (or poverty).
My definition of someone who is financially poor (for what its worth) is someone who doesn't have the financial resources to meet the basic needs (shelter,heating,food) of life and certainly have no excess funds for anything else.
If this be the case then a camino is out of the question.
I have always taught my children that money, in itself, is worthless. It is only a form of barter and gives you choices. If you have none then your choices are limited and in some cases nil.
I have attempted to calculate the "true" cost (in financial terms) of me being absent from home. These standing costs are ongoing whether I am there or not and still have to be paid (Community charge/standing charge for electricity and gas and other direct debits)that I would derive no benefit from in my absence.
I am lucky...using the financial definition of poor i am able to make choices. I am poorer than some and "better off" than many.
To address the question of whether a camino is achievable if poor....my feelings are..
not without subsistence and assistance from others.
If you don't have a home, you don't have any of those standing costs. There is a point where you are so poor it doesn't matter where you are.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Past OR future Camino
To Santiago and back (roads & paths; Tours; Francés; sea; roads & paths)
I recall about 12 years ago a young man who was in his underwear fishing just after the well known Pamplona city bridge , the Gaurda took him away , obviously he was a 'vagrant' or was he?Hopefully he was taken out of town and sent on his way? He could have been from many countries away.
What I don't understand about this story: What made you hope that the police would take him out of town and send him on his way? I suppose that there are quite a few people to the right and left of the Camino Frances and in Pamplona who are 'poor' in the sense that they have very few financial means or are even homeless but they are not pilgrims. In fact, I know that they are there because last year some of the "albergues de peregrinos" were closed by the municipalities and turned into shelters for homeless people so that they, too, were off the streets because everyone else was obliged to be off the streets in Spain during their first drastic lockdown.

We foreign pilgrims simply don't see these people, whether they are stationary or on the move. We see only a very few who have integrated themselves into the pilgrimage environment. I know that some municipalities run "albergues de transeuntes" in addition to their "albergues de peregrinos". Two worlds that are neatly separated. Which is just like "back home" where we usually don't talk a lot, or worry, about all the experiences and events in which we can participate while they are excluded.
 
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David Tallan

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
1989
Refugios averaged 3 peseta nightly. A very nice hotel in Pamplona was around 30 peseta. I remember a waiter in Trinidad de Arre telling mom and me that was very expensive. Using American dollars not so much for we two. Also, price at clean private hostals 15-20 pesetas.
Are you sure about those prices? In 1989 and 1990, the exchange rate was about 100 pesetas to the Canadian dollar. That makes your very nice hotel in Pamplona 30 cents. I know in 1989 I got a tiny room in Santiago for 200 pesetas and considered it incredibly cheap.

I just went and looked up exchange rates in 2001. It was anywhere from 170 pesetas to almost 200 pesetas to the USD. That would make your 30 pesetas for a nice hotel less than a quarter. Spain was cheap, but not that cheap!

I suspect you are remembering the prices in USD and thinking it was the price in pesetas.
 
Past OR future Camino
Latest: Rota Vicentina '19; Portuguese '19.
Imo, the only way to answer the original question is to have an agreed upon understanding of what "Poor" means.
No matter the standard definition of what being poor means in any given society, I imagine that among those who are considered poor, that they could have their own debate on which of them is the poorest of all.
 
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nycwalking

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
Ourense to Santiago (2019), CF: (2014, 2004, 2002, 2001). On to Fisterra, (2002, 4, 14).
Are you sure about those prices? In 1989 and 1990, the exchange rate was about 100 pesetas to the Canadian dollar. That makes your very nice hotel in Pamplona 30 cents. I know in 1989 I got a tiny room in Santiago for 200 pesetas and considered it incredibly cheap.

I just went and looked up exchange rates in 2001. It was anywhere from 170 pesetas to almost 200 pesetas to the USD. That would make your 30 pesetas for a nice hotel less than a quarter. Spain was cheap, but not that cheap!

I suspect you are remembering the prices in USD and thinking it was the price in pesetas.

Or perhaps mistaking the ubiquitous 100 peseta coin in memory as 1 peseta?

I maybe somewhat off on price in 2001.

Bit, I do remember my mom and I at saying we were shocked at how inexpensive everything was.
In 2002, peseta to euro I spent a bit more for everything.

Also, Spanish were discussing how the switch to euro at times nearly doubled the price of refugios, food, cafe con leche, et cetera.

Either way, I was simply agreeing with Tincatinker when he said in time camino may become too expensive for average middle class pilgrim.
 
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