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Keep the Camino tidy! An article on litter left on the way.

Paul McG

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino France's (2016)
#1
Dear All,
The following article [in Spanish] concerns a complaint by the people of Santiago which has arisen owing to the "new habit" of pilgrims leaving items tied to the city sign as they enter from the direction of the Camino Francés. This is not a tradition, and looks set to be prohibited.

The writer of the article likens this "new habit" with the prohibition in Paris [and other places, e.g. Dublin] of placing padlocks on public landmarks.

I think it is worth raising the point that those of us who value the Camino should ensure that respect for The Way and the country/countries that it passes though is paramount. Leaving items tied to signs and railings in Santiago is unwelcome. The burning of boots has also been remarked upon as a problem in Finisterre.

Can we help spread the word that the Camino is not a place to leave unwanted items? Keep the Camino tidy!

http://www.lavozdegalicia.es/notici...sociacion-cidade-vella/0003_201707S2C3993.htm
 

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Paul McG

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino France's (2016)
#3
I think that things such as cairns, crosses, and genuine pilgrim shrines are part of the Camino and I must say I found them to be moving in many regards - especially the field of memorial cairns near Viana. But I agree that the use of civic signage [for want of a better term] as a platform for leaving behind boots/scarves/flags etc. is an intrusion into the lives of the people of those cities.

When I read about things like this, I begin to understand how I was given such short shrift when I last entered into Santiago. There is a real risk that the Camino is becoming seen as just another form of tourism.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2013, 2017 Camino Frances SJPP-Santiago
2015 St. Olav's Way Oslo-Trondheim
2017 VdlP Seville-Merida
#4
"There is a real risk that the Camino is becoming seen as just another form of tourism" quoting @Paul McG (I don't know how to "quote" part of a post without copying and pasting:()

I believe it is a reality that the Camino pilgrimage route (especially the CF) is a tourism destination for many. It is also a nice long walk for others and a pilgrimage for some. I don't think there is anything that we can do to change that evolution. As for tidiness, I suspect that you are preaching to the choir, at least I hope that is the case.
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#5
I think that things such as cairns, crosses, and genuine pilgrim shrines are part of the Camino
It begins with the "stackers" who put rocks, trash, boots, and twigs on the mojones. Like graffiti, it says "I was here." Once the threshold is crossed, the gates are opened! Be an "unstacker," and clear the tops of mojones as you pass by (and pick up a water bottle now and then). :)
 

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Paul McG

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino France's (2016)
#6
cher99840 - I know what you mean. But I also think that the people of Santiago are soon going to see all pilgrims as one and the same - and that means we will all be taken for tourists. Certainly, I do not think that people there view pilgrims as being on any sort of pilgrimage. When I last arrived in the Cathedral square, just as I set foot in the place, some students rushed up to me with a microphone and asked "What do you think about Brexit?!" I had just walked from Lisbon. Even now I cannot articulate the emotions I felt at that point, but as cosmic jokes go it was a pretty sick one.

Perhaps if pilgrims were viewed as people coming to the final moments of a pilgrimage, this kind of thing would not happen. But when so many pilgrims act like tourists, am I surprised that I was seen as just another tourist with no serious reason to be in Santiago?
 

MichaelB10398

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago de Compostela, Lourdes to SdC, SJPP to SdC
#7
We as a group have been quite clear that the Camino is open to all regardless of motivation - it is for those who want a long walk, a good period of exercise, and those who are pilgrims in the traditional sense of the word. The degree to which all who walk the Camino may be perceived by others as just messy tourists is not a problem of pilgrims or walkers, but a problem with those who have the perception.

Though I am a strong supporter of making the Camino welcoming to all, I remain a purist of sorts. All are not pilgrims and that is by one's personal choice. It is up to the pilgrim and the walker to participate in the Camino with a high degree of manners, thoughtfulness, and respect for the host nations. We don't litter, we don't put graffiti anywhere, we enter into the Camino world and we leave no trace behind. However, we take with us the memories and lessons learned.
 
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falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
yes
#9
Tourism
In 2011, Galicia welcomed almost 9.5 million visitors, consolidating its position as one of the leading tourist destinations in Spain. Although the tourism industry took longer to flourish in Galicia than in Spain’s eastern regions, the number of visitors that travel to Galicia is growing by the year, thanks to distinguishing values such as the Way of St. James, with destination Santiago de Compostela, and the quality and authenticity of Galician cuisine.

With facilities to accommodate 123,885 travellers, Galicia has an extensive and varied offer of hotels, hostels and guesthouses, over one hundred (115) campsites (for over 34,793 travellers) and 593 Rural Tourism accommodations. This potential positions Galicia as the fourth Spanish region in terms of the number of hotel establishments, behind the Balearic Islands, Andalusia and Catalonia, and the seventh in Spain in terms of the number of rooms (behind the aforementioned autonomous communities, the Canary Islands, Valencia and Madrid). Pontevedra is the fifth Spanish province in terms of hotel establishments.

In 2011 there were 183,378 pilgrims, so the "tourists" represent over 98% of the visitors to Santiago. Pilgrims deserve to be respected as much as anyone, but they should not feel that the city is theirs alone!;)
 

Paul McG

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino France's (2016)
#10
Tourism
In 2011, Galicia welcomed almost 9.5 million visitors, consolidating its position as one of the leading tourist destinations in Spain. Although the tourism industry took longer to flourish in Galicia than in Spain’s eastern regions, the number of visitors that travel to Galicia is growing by the year, thanks to distinguishing values such as the Way of St. James, with destination Santiago de Compostela, and the quality and authenticity of Galician cuisine.

With facilities to accommodate 123,885 travellers, Galicia has an extensive and varied offer of hotels, hostels and guesthouses, over one hundred (115) campsites (for over 34,793 travellers) and 593 Rural Tourism accommodations. This potential positions Galicia as the fourth Spanish region in terms of the number of hotel establishments, behind the Balearic Islands, Andalusia and Catalonia, and the seventh in Spain in terms of the number of rooms (behind the aforementioned autonomous communities, the Canary Islands, Valencia and Madrid). Pontevedra is the fifth Spanish province in terms of hotel establishments.

In 2011 there were 183,378 pilgrims, so the "tourists" represent over 98% of the visitors to Santiago. Pilgrims deserve to be respected as much as anyone, but they should not feel that the city is theirs alone!;)
falcon269 - really interesting! :) Can I ask where you found out about this?
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
#11
It begins with the "stackers" who put rocks, trash, boots, and twigs on the mojones. Like graffiti, it says "I was here." Once the threshold is crossed, the gates are opened! Be an "unstacker," and clear the tops of mojones as you pass by (and pick up a water bottle now and then). :)
Haha! I thought I was the only unstacker! So nice to know I have company. ;):):):)

Why on earth do people think their passage anywhere deserves to be marked? Why can't people leave things as they have found them for others to expererience the same thing.

Leave things as you found them. Live the Camino in your heart and head, a please check your ego as you step on the Camino not forcing others to endure signs of your presence. Because all these stack, twigs, graffitis, boots, are just that: expression of one's sens of self importance.

I frankly think Spain could create a few new jobs by having people walk the Caminos (well, the Frances mostly since that's where the disaster is) amongst us tourists and make us pock up up our trash, no poo in the bushes, ring our bicycle bells, and rid us of any sort of marking instruments. And we can pretend they are there to make "pilgrims" feel saffer .o_O:cool:
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
#13
But when so many pilgrims act like tourists, am I surprised that I was seen as just another tourist with no serious reason to be in Santiago?
The people you see in Santiago, and along trail are mostly tourists. Some are just there for the beauty of the city, will visit the monuments and will move on to other cities. They act in Santiago as they would in Madrid, Paris or London, and why not. Santiago is jist another beautiful city for them.

Those you call pilgrims acting like tourists are also just tourists, even if you have seen them walking along the trail. Very few pilgrims these days.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2016, Caminho Português 2017, Jakobsweg Ulm-Constance 2017-2018, (Via Jacobi 2018)
#16
The Way has been there for years and decades and centuries and our presence is just a blink of an eye. My footprints will be gone in a matter of hours. I have a feeling that all the graffiti, stickers, shoes even the crosses on the fences etc are a small effort on rebelling on our insignificance. I don't mean to say I like it, but I do understand it a bit. On the other hand, I must say it was rather pleasant to hit Santiago from the Portuguese route. Much less trash, much less graffiti and stuff. There was actually so little trash that a few times I picked up some cans and wrappings and carried them to the next village and actually felt like I could make a difference. I'm a Finn living in Germany and whenever I saw any trash that yelled out "Germany" (like empty Tempo- ie Kleenex-packages), I quickly cleaned them away. I would have done the same with any Finnish trash, but never saw any. Well, I never saw any Finns! On the CF it seemed hopeless. I actually never picked up anybody else's trash there, just felt bad. People, our tiny, fleeting moments on this earth do matter! But we do want to be remembered, we do want to leave our tiny, weak footprints that actually matter. Instead of trash, let's leave caring, kindness, love, acceptance, love. (Yeah, yeah, I do know... preaching to the choir...)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2016, Caminho Português 2017, Jakobsweg Ulm-Constance 2017-2018, (Via Jacobi 2018)
#17
Tourist office of Galicia and the Pilgrim Office.
Our 2017 German Camino guidebook still claims tourism is not economically very important for Galicia. I found it a bit odd, because you don't really see so much obvious tourism anywhere else on the Camino as in Galicia.
 
T

Tigger

Guest
#18
I would also like to bring to attention, the opposite phenomenon of removing 'physical souvenirs' from the Camino.

One of the delights of the last one hundred or so kilometres of the Camino Frances into Santiago, is the mileage posts with neat brass plaques with a 'kilometres' left to walk on it. MOST of these are missing, souvenired by selfish egotistical thoughtless idiots.

It is not only a disgrace that they are missing, however it is actually dangerous.

My companion and I were walking in a deep forest, alone, in the pouring rain when she tripped by getting her walking pole entangled in a branch which had fallen in front of us. ( This is not the time or place to tout Pacer Poles yet nevertheless there is an advantage to not having your wrist fixed into the apparatus with an inflexible strap...for another discussion maybe) She fell, severely injured arm and in intense pain and in dire straights. I had had the foresight to put the Spanish emergency number into my phone ( you would be amazed at how your brain goes to mush in an emergency and I could NOT remember the names of the Spanish villages we had recently passed through.) After having waited many minutes for an English speaking responder, they finally asked me what had the last brass 'mileage' plaque said, to which I replied...'they have all been stolen'. Silence and frustration, on the other end. It was lucky that the emergency, whilst severe enough, was not life threatening. My poor companion however was in terrible pain, nauseous and passing out.

For those interested in the outcome, the Camino provided and some Spanish speaking pilgrims at last arrived on the scene and between us we were able to move my friend towards a road at the end of the forest trail and we were able to flag down a Spanish farmer who drove us to a convenient medical centre from where she was transported to Santiago hospital by ambulance for proper diagnosis and treatment. I think Kanga mentioned that our Camino was not 'straightforward'!
 
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean 2017.
#19
Dear All,
The following article [in Spanish] concerns a complaint by the people of Santiago which has arisen owing to the "new habit" of pilgrims leaving items tied to the city sign as they enter from the direction of the Camino Francés. This is not a tradition, and looks set to be prohibited. ....
Can we help spread the word that the Camino is not a place to leave unwanted items? Keep the Camino tidy!
http://www.lavozdegalicia.es/notici...sociacion-cidade-vella/0003_201707S2C3993.htm
Thank you; thank you; thank you. Your post has highlighted an issue that has (imho) totally trashed parts of the Camino. Two places that come to mind is (1) about 200 metres before the old church N.S. del Poyo (between Torres del Rio and Viana); & the Cruz de Ferro.
The are approaching the old church looked more like a garbage pit (I will publish a photo). My fellow pilgrim thought I had, had some sort of seizure I was so incensed. As for the area around the Cruz, well those of you who get my FB tales will know how unhappy I was. I was almost in tears, I just left my stone and carried on (not even a photo).
 

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Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean 2017.
#20
I would also like to bring to attention, the opposite phenomenon of removing 'physical souvenirs' from the Camino.

One of the delights of the last one hundred or so kilometres of the Camino Frances into Santiago, is the mileage posts with neat brass plaques with a 'kilometres' left to walk on it. MOST of these are missing, souvenired by selfish egotistical thoughtless idiots.

It is not only a disgrace that they are missing, however it is actually dangerous. .....
After having waited many minutes for an English speaking responder, they finally asked me what had the last brass 'mileage' plaque said, to which I replied...'they have all been stolen'. Silence and frustration, on the other end. It was lucky that the emergency, whilst severe enough, was not life threatening. My poor companion however was in terrible pain, nauseous and passing out.!
Thanks Tigger - another of my "bug bears". I did manage to take a photo of the mileage (kilometerage???) plaque showing 100.743 (or thereabouts), but yes almost ALL the following 20 or 30 plaques have been stolen. Who in their right mind would take one of these - they are valueless except to those pilgrims (and ordinary travellers) who need emergency assistance.
So if you are a pilgrim who has stolen one of these plaques how about sending it back - I am sure the Pilgrim House will forward any such plaques received from a penetant pilgrim.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo June 2013
SJPP - Logroño June 2014
Ingles July2016
#21
Our 2017 German Camino guidebook still claims tourism is not economically very important for Galicia. I found it a bit odd, because you don't really see so much obvious tourism anywhere else on the Camino as in Galicia.
That was in the past. Now tourism is economically important for Galicia
12% GDP 11% employment.
The Camino has to do with this. Not for the number of pilgrims but for the promotion that represents.
 
Camino(s) past & future
May 2017 September (2019)
#22
leaving Pamplona in May this year was where we first noticed that some of the clam shells set into the pavements had been removed, presumably stolen. It was sad to see, as well as the graffiti and the false arrows. The real shocker was the toilet paper everywhere. One group of young girls told us it was biodegradable so not a problem. we picked up quite a lot, using a packet over our hands but it soon became obvious that we were wasting our time. Besides those irritations my first Camino was wonderful.
Loved the country, the people, and the cherries.
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
#23
The real shocker was the toilet paper everywhere.
The toilet paper and faeces along the route are certainly unpleasant and unnecessary. However I personally find the graffiti and the mementos strewn along the Caminos even more offensive. The toilet paper at least stems from a genuine urgent and universal human need - though one which could be met more considerately. There is no such justification for self-indulgent vandalism and littering.
 

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