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Not as good as I thought...

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:
I have permission to post this Irish pilgrim's feelings about his/her walk on the camino which was posted on another forum.--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Hi all,
hope you´re enjoying your Camino or, if you´re planning to do it, you´re getting everything ready with happy anticipation. Maybe this would suit a blog more, but I haven´t got one. So here is my honest take on the whole camino... I´m on the Camino at the moment. I´m currently in Palas de Rey actually. I just feel I want to get my experience of the camino off my chest so far.

It´s not as fun or as interesting as I thought it would be. I am doing it with a companion and we both feel the same. People aren´t that friendly and often tend to be in groups, doing their own thing. I can get by in Spanish but my companion hasn´t a word of it, and it has been difficult for her to communicate with and get to know anyone. Whoever said the camino is very friendly must never have inter-railed around Europe! I have and stayed in hostels and met lots of great people (and am still in touch with some). However, on this camino, I find most people either keep to themselves or already have a group.

It´s mostly Spaniards doing it, followed by Germans. I´d say it´s two thirds Spanish, one quarter German and then I´ve met a handful of French and Americans, oh and one Italian. I´ve met absolutely no British or Irish and no Eastern Europeans either. Any cyclists seem really serious about the whole thing in their Lycra and they´re almost exclusively young and male. Walkers tends to be older. In my opinion, the camino tends to attract a slightly eccentric set (especially walkers), though this probably is to be expected.

I honestly think the whole camino is a bit gimmicky and lots of businesses make money off it, in what would be otherwise a very unvisited part of Spain by tourists. Thank God for St James, eh! You´d think the Galicians in their bars and shops would be a bit friendlier too, given that they depend on tourism, but they´re not exactly brimming with warmth either.

What doesn´t help things is I´ve got severe blisters on both feet, which were partly acquired in Madrid (damn sandals!), even before I started the camino! As for footwear, I wouldn´t recommend boots and sandals; rather I´d advise that pilgrims wear trainers/runners/sneakers for the trek and then simply flip-flops in the evenings to relax.

I can´t go any further because of my blisters, so we are heading to Lugo to get the bus back to Madrid. Maybe I´ll attempt the camino another time. But I just wanted to balance all utterly positive slant that is to be found on the internet about the camino and give my own personal experience. I´ve been bitten by some bugs on this pilgrimage, but the camino bug isn´t one of them.

Yes, I'll probably give it another chance, as I enjoy walking in the countryside and being at one with nature. However, I simply wanted to balance the reporting of a palsy-walsy community spirit by some others, that isn't really there in my own opinion. No harm in that but just want to give a realistic picture to others who haven't yet done it.
I found many Galicians apathetic, indifferent or even rude, but that still won't deter me. One exception to this was the staff at the centro médico in Palas de Rei, who was utterly professional, welcoming and friendly. It was great to recieve health treatment that was also free of charge.
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
Ah, blisters. They can control your entire outlook on life!

Once again, I recommend a silicone ointment to keep feet dry and control friction ...
 

MichaelB10398

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago de Compostela, Lourdes to SdC, SJPP to SdC
I suspect that there are many that find this same type of experience when they are walking. It is like a dark cloud hung over their entire journey. For a successful Camino, I have concluded that two things are needed: 1) a body that is prepared for the arduous, hot, rocky, way, and more importantly, 2) a heart that is open to the far more difficult journey of finding the distance between ourselves and our God. If either one is missing, the journey will not be fruitful, pleasant, or successful.

Hearing this story, I pray, will help me remember that even in crowd lonely people found. We each need to reach out to all along the Way to buoy them up. To seek for the face of Christ in each pilgrim is to share the pure love of Christ with all.

Mike
 

brightgirl

New Member
In response to the Irish pilgrims less than positive experiences on the Camino:
Hi, another Irish girl here, I am doing my Camino in stages as can't get free time to do all together due to other commitments, good things and bad things there - the legs get a break which is good (!) but you lose new found friends and have to start afresh next time, and that I was dreading this year but as before the way turned up wonderful people. I travel alone alone and am ready to embrace all my fellow pilgrims whatever their eccentricities - certainly I have many myself!!!!
But it is not just the countryside and the people I meet that draw me to the Camino - I have walked many places around the world - here it is something different, spiritual maybe, I am not sure, certainly there is a peace and contentment that stays with me long after I return and I can't wait to go back for more, I slowed down alot this time ( sore legs so I can sympathise!) and walking mostly by myself found the whole experience much more contemplative.
There are of course many not so pleasant albeurges, people, stretches along roads ( hard on feet and mind!) plus plenty of boring afternoon hours to fill in if you didn't pack a book ( too much weight!) and don't go in for siestas ( disturbs night sleep, along with snorers and bag rustlers!!) but what in life is perfect? Not blisters for sure, ready to take out shares in Compeed had bought so much last year!!!
I speak a bare few words of spanish and while I can't disagree wit some of your sentiments about tourism etc I never had any problems communicating - ok the odd difficult individual- move on to the next shop/ bar and find someone nicer - they are always there. I couldn't tell which way to go this year over or under the bridge, as I headed under the bridge a car came alone beeping loudly, the man in the passenger seat pointing and shouting at me to go over the bridge!!! Buen Camino!
I have met so many great friends on the Camino - met many people last year that I am still in contact with, hooking up with this year - like anything its luck who you meet but you also have to be open, there are such beautiful souls walking on the camino - do it alone next time,you never know what bugs might bite you!!
Good luck with the blisters!
 

alipilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Listed in my signature
I think I have to agree with Brightgirl in that the Camino isn't always the what you might think it might be. I've done it in two parts now as a single person and the second had some very solitary days where no one seemed to want to make new friends, yet some other days where I made some great companions. On the whole I loved it but it wasn't the great communal 'get to know everyone' that one might be lead to believe. But I can't also help to think it might just be the luck of the day you start... From the posts here, many pilgrims make fantastic friends the first day out that they keep along the whole journey. Just the luck of the draw, perhaps...
 

gittiharre

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF Austria Czech Le Puy Geneva RLS V. Jacobi V. Regia V. Baltica/Scandinavica Porto Muxia
Hmmm, I am german, have been living in New Zealand for nearly 30 years and walked the Camino on my own after I turned 50. I had a wonderful time, but it is fair to say that at the same time it was one of the hardest thigns I have ever done. I am a clean freak, so the refugios and shared bathroom facilities without flipflops, as I gave up carrying them were a challenge, so were the communal spaces for my introvert side. Yet overall I loved the experience and the surprises I encountered on the way and very much it is what you put in yourself. Don't expect anything, give a little and magic just evolves. I had blisters, shinsplints and a sore achilles and 3 changes of footwear, but persisted and found that most problems you just walk your way through. Trust and give and the experience will be full, not always perfect, but you always end up getting what you need at the time and learning from it....Last year I walked 1/2 of the Austrian Route of ST James and it was quite strange. Very solitary, hardly any other pilgrims and terribly " civilised" quite a different time, but an experience in itself.
Just be .....
 

evanlow

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances06
Primitivo07
Plata08
Norte12
Levante(14-15)
Vasco16
Mozarabe(16-17)
Madrid17
Portuguese18
It´s mostly Spaniards doing it, followed by Germans. I´d say it´s two thirds Spanish, one quarter German and then I´ve met a handful of French and Americans, oh and one Italian. I´ve met absolutely no British or Irish and no Eastern Europeans either.

Methinks this pilgrim started the camino in Galicia judging from his breakdown of people he met. I have always wondered the difference in experience if one started their camino in Galicia, and also the amount of time spend in the camino (5 days to a week to be eligible for a compostela and a camino that is at least 2 weeks or more).
 

jeff001

Active Member
So much depends on the expectations you bring with you. If you are looking for a vacation outing such as you might find at a singles resort or on a break from college you will obviously be disappointed. If your are looking for a "package tour" experience you will be disappointed. If you expect cities, fine dining and air conditioned accommodations you will be disappointed. If you expect everyone to speak your language and/or want to chat with about things you will be disappointed. But if you want an opportunity have lots of time to think about things, to enjoy a rich cultural and historical experience and meet even just a few really great people who share your attitudes and expectations it will be one of the best times of your life.

And never forget that just as there would be fewer businesses along the Way if there were no pilgrims there would be no pilgrims without those businesses to support them. We need them every bit as badly as they need us and we need to treat them that way.
 
Everyone has a different experience. I'm sorry this person didn't have a better time, but I have been on the road with those who absolutely hate everything about the Camino. Whether it's harder than they thought, or boring, or they just can't get a lucky break, they just hate it & can't get over it. It's not for everyone, much like any other form of recreation. I would be bored stupid at the World Cup, or whatever the Superbowl of Cricket is, but I know many more people feel opposite. Hence, I don't go to soccer games or cricket matches. ;)

Kelly
 

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:
In 2007 my friend Marion, a Dominican nun and I, walked from Roncesvalles to Santiago. My husband joined us in Sarria and walked the last 114kms to Santiago. He said that he enjoyed it but he could never do that for 5 weeks or more. I told him that he wouldn't be 'doing that' ie: the first week, over and over again.

I told him that the first week is the hardest. You have to get used to being in a different country, used to the backpack, to your boots, to the terrian, the albergues, different food, different water, sleeping with strangers in a dormitory, using uni-sex toilets and showers. It takes at least a week to get used to all of those things.

The 2nd week is a settling in period, you might have posted excess stuff ahead and lightened the pack. Sometimes you forget that you have the backpack on your back. You have gotten used to the routine of getting up, walking for 5 to 10 hours, sleeping in a different bed every night and eating strange food.

By the 3rd week you are getting into the "Zone", a fitter, quieter, more accepting 'you' who takes things as they come and is grateful for a bed, a plate of food and a good day's walking.

By week four I find that I am in the 'Zen Zone' !! You look like a part of the landscape. Your clothes have faded, your hair is like straw, you have a funny tan - I get white stripes on my forearms where the wrinkles are from carrying walking poles - and we all have those brown legs with white feet!

By week 5 people get a strange, distant expression on their faces. They are not really 'in the world' - they have become a part of the camino.

I would hate a 'groundhog day' scenario where you have to repeat the first week over and over again! That would be camino purgatory!
 

evanlow

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances06
Primitivo07
Plata08
Norte12
Levante(14-15)
Vasco16
Mozarabe(16-17)
Madrid17
Portuguese18
So true Sil.

I was enjoying being one with the camino (zombie zone) on the 5th week when I was abruptly awoken when I finally arrive at the cathedral in Santiago.
 

mrbillyto

Member
I just wanted to thank Sil for posting the Irish pilgrims feeling on their camino. A lot of what I read on this forum and in some of the "first hand account" books is extremely positive and that's a good thing. However, it can't be all fun and games and there are difficulties and pain and languange barriers, etc. and that's what this Sil's posting pointed out. I can only speak for myself as a person who will be walking his first Camino in September when I say that I appreciate seeing a different side to the camino. It kind of knocks me back a few steps (no pun intended). Also, if I am not having a rough time on part of my camino, I won't be thinking back to this forum and wondering "what's wrong with me...all those folks seemed to have had such a great time"?! I guess what I am trying to say is that this forum is great and the members are very generous in sharing their experience and advice from their Camino but I have rarely seen any really negative experiences and Sil's posting from another forum has shown that other side.
Can't wait until September!
Bill
 

nellpilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
SDC-Fisterra 08/Camino Frances SJPP to SDC 09/Nuremburg-SDC 11- ongoing
I think that this is a valid and interesting point of view. I must say I did feel some pilgrim 'performance anxiety' that my journey would be as meaningful, joyous, challenging etc etc as those of other pilgrims I read about before I set out. This pilgrims experience not only makes me more grateful for the 'bonne route' I travelled, and for all the factors that made it so, but it also makes me curious about that alternative experience. And I wonder did I give the 'cold shoulder' to a solitary pilgrim or exclude, however unintentionally, someone from our various little groups simply by the degree of familiarity/camaraderie we had built up (and lets face it if you start at St. Jean or even further up route(s) by the time you get any distance along the spanish section you know each other warts and all!) on my Camino? I hope not but it's possible and when I walk again next year I am going to be a bit more thoughtful about, and focused on, others making that journey.
I am really glad this pilgrim is prepared to give it another shot and I think that attitude says a lot about them and shows just how positive a person they can be.
It's funny how defensive one can become about the Camino especially as, when you think about it,all you really want is for others to share the positive experience you had. I guess, as with anything you love, sometimes objectivity is lost or at least a little blurred?
I think this kind of comment will help to temper and balance the setting of overly high expectations, or at least flag that there are other experiences.
My own expectations were, due to age and fitness level rather than to any philosophic stance, pretty basic. If at the end of the day I could stand up and walk after my shower and then swallow a gin and tonic I classed it as a good day! Discovering that I could walk -not fast not easy and of course not without with blisters- meant that anything else was a bonus, whatever that 'anything' was; a day/hour without rain, a bit of slightly less muddy track, a clean toilet or 'shrub prive'. Actually when I read an early entry in my camino journal one phrase jumped out " the absolute bliss of stopping (walking) is so intense that shelter, food and sleep pale into insignificance". So it wasn't hard for me to have really joyful camino and I must say I haven't laughed so much in years-mostly at myself!
On my journey out of 33 walking days I only had 4 without rain, however other pilgrims, just hours behind or ahead of me, had entirely different weather and never needed to get out their rain gear. After a week or so I stopped wondering how that could be and got to enjoy my 'soggy camino' ....but I do wonder what it would be like to experience the mild and sunny version!
 

KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
The Camino isn't for everyone: we are all different. And I guess that there would be several reasons why you don't read 'negative' accounts on the forum so often. The Camino undoubtedly has its difficult times- sometimes on days when you least expect them- but once you finish it, for most people I think the overall feeling is one of peace and joy- and the hard days are 'forgotten'.

Also, chances are, those who didn't enjoy it probably don't post on a place like the forum very often. And I know that on the brief blog postings I made along the way, I was careful to mostly keep negative stuff out of them, as I didn't want to alarm my family who were so far away.

I carried some songs and quotes I had collected when I walked, and one quote I took from LynneJohn, a member of this forum, from a posting here. It helped me about day 10 when I was suffering from blisters after three days of incessant rain. This is what she wrote:
"........ concentrate on only the next step; and keep walking. Think about what is working well - not about your aches and pains. Don't think about the total number of kilometres you are walking. Only think about what you are walking today. Right now. Step by step, hill by hill, rest stop by rest stop - that's how you accomplish your goal. You can do it!"

I also carried a song called 'We say thanks' by a Marist priest from here in New Zealand, Chris Skinner SM. Some of the words go:
If the only prayer that we ever said
If the only prayer we said was thanks
That would be enough that would be enough
If the only prayer we said was thanks.

When the soles of my feet were tender and sore, or I was feeling lonely, or I was tired of walking on/near asphalt, singing this song helped me think about other things eg the beautiful wildflowers along the way, the people that I knew/had met. And somewhere deep inside, I know that this kind of gratefulness became part of my journey.

I know it wasn't all easy- and certainly I found the transition to Spain quite difficult, where things were so different from France. But fundamentally. I guess I am a person who is happy walking, and as soon as I climbed the hill out of the old volcanic crater Le Puy and began walking in the countryside, I knew a real happiness deep inside. And even though I might have been annoyed by some things along the way, nothing could take away that joy walking gave me.

It is already the 25th here: Happy Feast day of St James to all!
Margaret
 

annakappa

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Part frances jun 07/rest frances may- jun 2008/Frances sept-oct 2009/ Sanabres Oct 2010/Frances sept-oct 2011/Aragones Sept-Oct 2012. Hospitalero Sept 2010, Amiga in Pilgrim's Office Oct 2013. Part Primitivo Oct 2013. Portugues from Porto June 2015.
I have been following this posting over the last few days and would like to share a quotation that I found on a Spanish Forum several months ago:

The first part of the journey is to tame your body
The second part is to tame your spirit
The third part is for the joy of your soul

The actual word used in Spanish is "domar"and can be translated as :to tame, break in, get under control, overcome.
The Camino is by no way a bed of roses and I feel this person made no prior perparation, neither physical nor spiritual. As Ewanlow says, I think that he only started in Galicia (and it seems gave up after only a few days).
The majority being Spaniards - well they are after all in their own country. As for the Germans (or of Germanic language - there are also Austrians and Swiss mixing with them), well I had a good opportunity to brush up my rather rusty German! Let's look at it from the positive side! Anne
 

Annette

Member
On my camino walks I have sometimes met pilgrims like this Irish one.

It doesn't really matter where they started... what matters is their effort and willingness to do the camino. Do not make your camino into an assignment for others... it is not up to the other pilgrims to make sure your journey is fantastic. It is up to you. And you only.

So people in Galicia is not friendly...!? I have quite to oposite opinion. Life is fair in many ways... and you get what you attract and what you give out... A saying goes "what you give you get 3 fold back".

If you expect the other pilgrims to greet you first... to be nice to you first... to help you first... What are you suppose to do? Why not meet the all pilgrims and the galicians and... with a smile... a hello, you can start the talking/chatting... If you put a little effort into this you might see the Camino differently.

I am very well aware that pilgrims have different experiences, different perspectives... all my 4 Caminos have been different... - But in my opinion, what is so great about the Camino is that you learn a lot about your self... you might not like all of what you find in your self... - but it is a great reason to keep going... keep walking... keep a positive spirit... because you get what you attract.

It is really not about languages... cos we have all seen that we are all able to communicate on the camino no matter which language we speak... or which part of the world we are from... it is all about keeping an open mind and a positive spirit... and respect. Just feel the Camino and let it make its magic...
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Whenever I see your Avatar, Annette, I cannot help think that you have a huge rucksack! :D

good words all ... so sorry he/they had such a negative experience ... quite amazing to start a pilgrimage when you already have blisters!

The thing is, it isn't a Butlins holiday camp .. there are no Redcoats to introduce you to others and to ensure you are having a happy time .. it is a pilgrimage and the strange thing is that it is the very difficulties that one experiences that can somehow be converted into something rather wonderful.

I don't know where this couple started, with their blisters and 'wrong' boots to replace their sandals but it sounds as if they entered late along the route ...

I agree with comments about first giving - whether smiles or friendship or concern or food or a quiet word or ... then about receiving by giving ...

For me it is like this .. if one sits in a place where one can see all the people .. there will be small groups of friends, loners, people content, people unhappy, people giving, people sharing, people moving into the scene, across it, out of it ... like an animated Brueghal painting - and you know how it is with those, you look and look, and try to work out what each person, each group is doing and feeling and why ... well, the thing is - to stop sometimes and in that sitting to just let it all in and then ask "where is Christ in this picture?" - not the man or any of the (some ridiculous) theological perspectives about him .. but what he represents in our human community, the mystery, love, the parable of the Good samaritan... so - where is he in this picture? .. and then you will see giving and care in all aspects of that which you are watching, the flash of eyes smiling, laughter, gentle touches, practical jokes that invite in, - and if you wait then you may see the place where it is not .. and then it is your turn, to stand up and go to that person or that couple and be him there.

(Just a point of view :wink: )
 

Janeh

Active Member
thank you Sil for posting the Irishman's tale.
I have to agree with all the above, as my camino was one of great joy and great awfulness! (is that a word? :?:
I commented on my blog that I didn't find too many hospitaleros friendly, sadly more were indifferent than wonderful, but the handful I did come across made up for the rest. Yes, I walked alone and found the majority of pilgrims in groups ignored me, but the 6 wonderful fellow pilgrims I met along the way made up for the many who weren't interested. Yes, the majority of pilgrim meals were uninteresting, tasteless, fattening, but the ones I can count on one hand that were wonderfully delicious and made with love made up for the other 40! Yes, awful things happened to me along the path (bedbugs, attacked by a dog, fellow pilgrim dying in front of me), but they were outweighed by the wonderment of the changing landscape, the history, the small acts of kindness, the beauty of walking alone with just yourself feeling part of the 'now' and the landscape.
Sil had commented on my blog just as I began my walk the same story she gave her husband. I kept that in mind and, as we all know who have walked the walk, yes, by week four or five you are totally in the zone and the peace and serenity you feel is worth all the previous weeks anguish/pain/whatever!

Despite all this, I am planning to walk another camino next August - I didn't think I would walk another one after my camino last year, but months later the camino still calls. I think it's a little like child birth - the pain at the time fades and the joy of the end over rides memory, so we go back for another go!
For first timers - yes, listen to others experiences but remember, your camino can only be experienced by you and it will be as good or as bad , or more likely a mixture, as it's meant to be. No two people can have the same camino, just like no two women have the same experience of childbirth (sorry guys, but you know what I'm trying to say! ) :)
buen camino to all! cheers, Jane
 

Hermanita

Active Member
They say that attitude is everything. I think this shows just how important a good attitude and open mind really are.
The bad experience that the writer had reminds me of a Buddhist story I once heard that goes something like this:
An old monk was sitting by the gate of an ancient city when a traveler asked " I am thinking of moving to this city, can you tell me what kind of people I will find here?"

The monk asked "What kind of people do you find in the city you are from?"

The traveler replied: "Oh, there are a miserable bunch, they are thieves and liars and dreadful and hateful people. I will be glad to be rid of them"

The monk replied:"I am sorry to say that that's the kind of people you will find here."

The traveler moved on and soon another traveler came along and asked the monk: "I am thinking of moving to this city, can you tell me what kind of people I will find?"

The monk asked:"What kind of people do you find in the city you are from?"

The traveler answered: "Oh they are wonderful people, full of love and peace, always willing to give and to help. I love them all and will be sad to leave them"

The monk replied:"I am happy to say that that's the kind of people you will find here"

I am planning on having a wonderful first Camino in September.
Rita
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Such thoughtful prose coming through on this thread - no disparagement .. kind ..

and the Buddhist story ...Marvellous - sorry Rita but I shall be using that! :wink:
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
A Camino is a half-marathon per day for over a month, and with a pack. Who thought it would be easy? For most of us, it is the most physically demanding thing we will do in our lives, certainly in our lives after age 50. Who thought it would be easy? Anyone who did not want to quit somewhere along the way is crazy or abnormal, or both. Who thought it would be easy? Anyone who did not discover that finishing only took finding one more step within you, missed a teachable moment. But who thought it would be easy? Of me it has been frequently said, "there is a lot of quit in that boy." When I do quit, I always say it was because it did not find it rewarding to continue, or blame it on an external factor. You have to be good at lying to yourself to quit. There is truth to be found in a Camino, if you let it find you.
 

Hermanita

Active Member
Br. David said:
Such thoughtful prose coming through on this thread - no disparagement .. kind ..

and the Buddhist story ...Marvellous - sorry Rita but I shall be using that! :wink:

Br.David
I am glad you like it. Please do use it, as it is not mine to keep, and it can be very useful.
Rita
 

brightgirl

New Member
Annette and others
I am also Irish and can assure that this negative view is an individual one- attitude is everything, I travel alone on the Camino with an open heart and mind, the key is to have little expectation aside from a nice walk, some solitude and some sunshine (precoius little of it here!), anything else is a bonus and the meeting of different people, nationalites, languages are all the fun of the way - after all blisters come to us all wherever we come from and whatever the journey in life we get as much as we put in so greet your fellow pilgrim, smile and chat, it will flow back, this joy a thousand fold!!
God Bless, Buen Camino one and all xx
 

grilly

Active Member
I like Sil's comments very much. How long it takes to 'get into the Camino.'
I also think it depends on the expectations and the preparations involved. In 2005, when we did it for the first time, from Le Puy to Santiago, we were doing a 'pilgrimage.' We saw ourselves following the footsteps of pilgrims who had done it for centuries. I remember feeling accompanied by a 'templar' from Le Sauvage to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port.
We left with two friends and dropped one en route, to his great heartache, because he expected to talk all the way to Santiago and we wanted silence for long stretches of time.
We never thought of the people we would meet along the way. After all, this was a time between God and us. But we met wonderful friends, people with whom we walked and talked and laughed and sang and ate together. This was a side-product of the Camino, and it was 'magic.'
Every since, we have walked, but never for that long and often constrained with a time schedule. We met some great people every year on the way, except last year, and this possibly because our minds really were somewhere else: we had to be back in time for something else; this spoiled it somehow.
The thing is: the Camino is so very much part of our life today. A memory will flash across our mind and for a split second we will be somewhere else. It is as if a part of our heart was forever on the Camino. In my own strange way, I hope that when I die I will join the cohorts of dead pilgrims still walking the Camino, ghosts that somehow one can feel every so often, at the most unexpected time.
In a way, the people one meets on the Camino are as much 'real' as 'imagined' as 'remembered.' Possibly the most surprising encounter, and sometimes the most difficult, is that of one's own self...
Finally, to come back to our unhappy Irish pilgrim, we usually hear stories of success. But for every successful Camino, there may be some unsuccessful as well. And it becomes very hard to express one's 'perceived failure' when everyone around is raving about the experience.
Every pilgrim has her or his ups and downs. Still for so many of us, returning to the Camino is a haunting longing.

claire
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Oh dear, this thread is becoming very difficult for me ... people are taking such care in expressing themselves and trying to transmit the Camino process in just a few words (successfully) that I keep getting quite emotional and, joyfully 'Zenny' Katz!! , and, yes, haunted, and remembering those different weeks and the internal journey and just, well, just long to be back out there ....

(thinks: but only just over three weeks to go - hurrah!)

by the way - for the shy .. yes, it can be difficult sometimes to make contact (though for those who start a long way back there is a group sort of thrown at you that you become part of) .. but ... take a packet of biscuits into a refugio .. at a tea-drinking moment, just offer them round - smiles, contact ... breaks the ice (not that you will see much ice!)


be not afraid - all is well :wink:
 

pos

New Member
I am very surprised to read that an Irish pilgrim has left the Camino with such negative experiences. For me, the Camino has restored my faith in humankind, such was the friendless and hospitality that I experienced on my way. I have made wonderful 'amigos' of all nationalities.

So he/she met no Irish or British pilgrims - we Irish are lucky to have English as our first language and I have never stayed in an albergue were there were no English peakers.

As for her/his attitude that walkers tend to be older and more eccentric - well that says it all!

Paul
 

Alan Pearce

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Aragones 2008, del Norte 2009, VdlP 2011, Ingles 2014, Camino de Madri 2015, Frances 2017
Last year I walked the camino in company with Victor, from Ireland. Mostly we walked in silence, and one day as we were about to pass a pilgrim in obvious distress [limping badly, unhappy expression] Victor said suddenly "I think this man needs us to talk to him". We slowed our pace right down and found that Attila from Germany had such bad blisters that he had decided to quit the camino and go home. He had waited at the railway station for hours before realising that there were no trains on a Sunday, and was now hobbling to the next refuge where he could stay the night before going home the next day. We encouraged him as best we could, and even got a smile or two from him before we left him and resumed our normal pace.
At lunch the next day some friends asked what it was that we said to Attila. They had spoken to him that morning, and he told them that because some fellow pilgrims had taken the time to ask about him and had shown concern for his well-being, he had changed his mind and was now determined to continue to Compostela, wearind sandals.
The next time I saw Attila was in Compostela after I had returned from Finistere. He was overjoyed at having made it ti Compostela and told us that he was making a pilgrimage to Jeruselem in 2009. I hope he made it.
I don't tell this story to bignote myself. If Victor had not insisted that we speak with Attila, I would have walked past him thinking that he was just another pilgrim who had not prepared properly for the camino, so any credit must go to my Irish friend. But it was [and is] a great lesson to me, and I think to us all. It was not important what we said to Attila, what was important was the action of actually taking the time to let him know that we cared.
Four weeks until I meet Victor in Bayonne for our walk on the del Norte.

Alan

Be brave. Life is joyous.
 

meenas

New Member
A late entry to this discussion...

I walked the Camino from Roncesvalles to Santiago in 2001 - to sound cliche, it was everything I wanted and more! Sure, I walked a little weirder by the end of it all, but I've dreamt of returning since I finished, and I get the opportunity in September to walk from St Jean Pied de Port to Finisterre. I am filled with much anxiety and excitement - all the 'what if' thoughts are getting closer and closer together! Whilst all the positive entries on blogs like this are great to get you excited, they're all the more worthwhile when they're tempered with 'confessionals' like Sil's and it's comforting to know that there are others who have doubts about the whole experience.

I guess so long as you're true to yourself, and listen to your heart (and every other little niggle in your body tells you), the Camino will be what you want or need it to be...

...at least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Meena :D

PS. I loved that tale of the monk and the travellers!
 

Sagalouts

RIP 2015
here are two pics of me
day one in SJPP and day 49 in Santiago as Sill said a few zones were passed through, but I don,t remember the giving birth one, though 22 lbs were lost.
Ian
 

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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:
22lbs - 10kg !!!!!
Did you have to buy a belt to keep your shorts up?
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
22lbs? Excellent -- me next!!!

by the way - you have a good and interesting face Ian. Crikey though .. are we a little tired in Santiago? not surprised, holding your trousers up a lot of the way :lol:
 

brendan nolan

Active Member
Hi all :) have just been scanning through this topic and it reminded me of a good humoured Spanish pilgrim who was walking with her husband in 2005. They actually lived in Santiago but had started at Roncesvalles [ :?: I think]. He was very enthusiastic and maybe a little more serious about the pilgrimage than his wife; she was awarding him points each day for the stage walked, the bars and the refugio he chose :!: She put a smile on everones face when one day she remarked: 'Wouldn't it have been much better if they had built Santiago at Burgos' :D

Buen Camino a todos,
Brendan
 

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:
"The geographic pilgrimage is the symbolic acting out of an inner journey. The inner journey is the interpolation of the meanings and signs of the outer pilgrimage. One can have one without the other. It is best to have both."
Thomas Merton. 1964
 

JohnnieWalker

Nunca se camina solo
Fascinating thread. There's a lot we don't know about pilgrims. For example we've probably all met people who start and then disappear after a few days - we just don't know how many people give up because they encounter problems or they can't cope with communal living or they just don't like it.

Some people who have walked the Camino Frances find other routes profoundly disappointing because of the lack of other pilgrims. Others say that a subsequent pilgrimage for them never matches the "magic" of their first. A very few people when they get to Santiago actually say, "I've done it but I hated it, and won't do it again"

As has been said before though, I think often the root of this can be physical problems. Early blisters, muscle pain, or tendonitis can be unendurable for some people and they can develop a jaundiced view of the whole experience. I also think that there are very real issues around lack of preparation for the shorter routes from Sarria, the Camino Ingles and Portugues for example. I suspect many people think, "oh it is ONLY 5 days walking" then find they hit a pain barrier by the end of day two and are immobile by the end of day three or whatever. If they are not prepared on the shorter routes then they never get the chance to "walk through" the problems we all encounter to some extent or another.
 

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:
Johnnie wrote:
A very few people when they get to Santiago actually say, "I've done it but I hated it, and won't do it again"

...and those that swear not to do it again usually find the urge to go back again irrisitable!
 

Annette

Member
So true Sil...

First time I arrived in Santiago I was asked if I would do it again and I said "No"...

I had loved every step and every experience... but I was sure I would not do it again... Now I must confess I have done it 3 times since...(4 in total) and I will do it again...

I think most first time pilgrims, think they might not want to do it again... but it wont take longe before they hear the whisper of the Camino in their ears... it is calling, and then the planning begins... (again).
 

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:
:? And, when people ask you why?? ... why walk the same thing again?? .. and again?? ... WHY??
You don't know what to say because you don't know why. :|
 

evanlow

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances06
Primitivo07
Plata08
Norte12
Levante(14-15)
Vasco16
Mozarabe(16-17)
Madrid17
Portuguese18
Whether the camino experience is good or not really depends one's mindset.

The people, the experience, the physical endurance, the body, they all contribute to one's journey in the camino. Some of the posts in this forum may have indirectly oversell the expectations to those who had not begun their journey. Can't help it since those who have walked the camino have the tendency to do that.

Here's a story of what happen during my first camino. 28 days into camino and my left ankle gave way in Melide, 2 days and 50 km away. The medico guy at the albergue told me to stop, but I just couldn't with only 2 days of walking left. Taking a big risk, I struggled on. Many pilgrim on the road actually begged me to stop, as they can't bear seeing my face sour up with every other step I take. It's only when I told them if they would do the same with my condition that they accepted it. I have received many offers for massages, pills and medication from so many other pilgrims in next two days that I had to reject some of their kindness or I will be able to open a pharmacy from my backpack. When I finally arrived at the cathedral in the late afternoon, the pain made my journey even more bittersweet. In tears (pain and elation), I couldn't move for the next 1/2 hour. Later, I was reminded of this extraordinary feat by many of the pilgrims who knew about my condition.

The funny thing is, I didn't feel that it was anything special. It was no different from my first 28 days, except for the pain in the ankle. I guess you can say that my mind is already made up to walk, the phrase 'mind of matter' can't be any more truer. I can't explain it (and still couldn't), but I suspect that those who had walked the camino and had a great time can understand why I did it.
It was foolish and risky, but I am glad that I didn't suffer any permanent damage, and went on to do 2 more camino (without any more physical incidents).

All I can say is that the camino is the perfect self-help. You can only help yourself when you are not hampered by your daily distraction (work, etc). After a few days, you can barely remember what day of the week it is... ("Oh it's Sunday, no wonder the shops are closed."). How much simpler can you life be when all you have to do is eat, sleep, walk and a bit laundry? And as Sil has mentioned with the stages of the camino, after physical and mental stage, your mind will be more acute and aware. Call it walking mediation, walking with God, etc.. the state of mind is the driving force for many to keep coming back to the camino. The camino has changed many people. But homecoming is always on our minds.
 

MichaelB10398

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago de Compostela, Lourdes to SdC, SJPP to SdC
Evan, that is an amazing story. Thank you for sharing it. Heroes never recognize the significance of their action; they just took action when they saw the need. Trust the comments of others and know that it was a great thing that you accomplished.

As an aside, the phrase in English is "mind over matter."

Mike
 

evanlow

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances06
Primitivo07
Plata08
Norte12
Levante(14-15)
Vasco16
Mozarabe(16-17)
Madrid17
Portuguese18
Thanks Mike,

I don't want to make the camino more than what it is but at the same time emphasis that it is not just a hiking trip.

As they say, all you need is just a reason to walk. For that, my reason is nothing compare with people I met who walked the camino with cancer (complete remission after that) or people walking with grief (loss of love ones through untimely death and even suicide). This enforces my statement in my earlier post on the camino as perfect self-help. I don't know, but I hope they have their closure after walking the camino.
 

kerrysean

New Member
I have just completed my first Camino and I found it to be a great experience, better than I thought it would be despite falling ill no less than 4 times with a re-occurring illness that I first contracted in China. I had no problems with the Camino once I realised that it was an individual journey that I could determine the length and speed of at any time. I got a huge amount from doing it, and know that the longer I have to reflect upon it the more I will derive benefits from it....

BUT having said that....I WILL say that I have some sympathies with some of the observations of the original post by the pilgrim from my own country..

i) Yes there are a disproportionate number of eccentrics walking the Camino, I guess that such an undertaking does attract them..I found that most were harmless. However I did not always feel so open minded when the eccentricities included a desire to wake me and every other person in the albuerge by rising at between 4.30 am and 5.15 am and flashing a head torch all over the place...Alongside eccentricity often comes selfishness.I was delighted by the rule of one albuerge that would not permit people to start getting up before 6am..

ii) I did not appreciate having to listen to fellow walkers, banging on ad-nauseam, about a wide variety of eccentric new age beliefs, such as placing stones all over the place, 'past lives', symbolic meanings of everything in 'the way', 'the universe', 'the nature', etc etc I do not appreciate being considered odd or square or whatever by the numerous walkers who seemed to think they had a
monopoly on spiritual truth and that I was in some way remotely interested in their belief system. Especially since they made it quite clear that they had no interest at all in my beliefs...There are I am afraid to say, and it may be heretical for some , an abundance of 'new age' bores on the Camino, they are not uncommonly members of the same sub-group that wake up fellow pilgrims in the early hours of the morning.

iii) The majority of fellow walkers were good fun and pleasant to be around, I enjoyed the whole thing from beginning to end, but the last thing I wish to warn against is to avoid getting drawn into the endless mind-games of what I call 'the competitors'...these are 'pilgrims' who despite words that may suggest they are all 'peace and love and spiritual' are in fact competitors...They will be the ones who ask you where you started, when, and are instantly assessing your daily km tally. They are the ones who joylessly bang on about going 'up a notch' to a 45 km day, and when they have done that, will be interested in a 50km day, very often German/Nordics, these people are obsessives who should be avoided like the plague. They will be the ones who will start insinuating about you because they didnt pass you on the way, the idea that someone might actually have stopped off and visited a church or a museum, or even just taken a nap is beyond them...So they start to ask questions like...'Oh how come I didnt pass you yesterday?' ...or " what time did you leave, its funny I didnt see you'....the subtext of this shit is that you got a bus/taxi and whilst they will never say that, they are thinking it...What they do not like is meeting someone who they cant categorise, so if like me you walk some parts very fast, but later walked much slower, you get quizzed about how you went 'so fast' in the beginning and now 'so slow'...These are not uncommon either, and their presence on the Camino was always a regret to me. I soon found that the best way of dealing with this sort was to be quite blunt and when quizzed about kilometres or speed etc I would say 'none of your business' or 'mind your own business' and move on to another table or group... They would always turn out to be bad company and tight with their money in any case
so its no loss.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
KerrySean - how utterly perfect - how I laughed - how true - how perceptive ...

we should all carry custard pies with us and use them as and when .... :wink:

but you didn't mention, when some poor unfortunate had their stick stolen or too many blisters "it's your karma, something you did last time round, man" :lol:

Marvellous!!! Very droll - laughing so loud startled cat now stuck to ceiling!
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
Poor ole cat :lol:

Kerry, the people I met were of all shapes and sorts, and for the most part I found their various beliefs and reasons for walking to be fascinating and fun. The new-agers didn't bother me because I happen to believe we're all on the same journey to the same destination anyway. I hung my socks at Finesterre and burned the prayers of some friends there. I also took prayers of my Christian friends to the Cathedral.

However, I DO recognize the crazy ones you describe who arise before dawn with their torch on their forehead. I had a comical experience with one of those folks. He would awaken, not only with his torch, but singing OPERA! I wanted to murder him! I had the displeasure of being with him in more than one alburgue, and the last time, took his photo that morning, so I'd remember his face. He smiled and was so pleased I was taking his photo, never knowing my evil reasoning.

In some ways I felt ashamed. He was SO HAPPY! :twisted: I just couldn't tell him the truth. I examined my conscience very closely over this one, and I came to the conclusion that he really WAS the one who was wrong, forcing everyone else to wake up at his beck and call. He was rude, obnoxious bore.

Well, I read this new age book called The Power of NOW! In it, the author says when something isn't going your way, rather than make up little stories in your head about how "they" are out to get you, you have three logical choices:

1. Accept the person or situation
2. Change the person or situation
3. Walk away

I decided that I was unable to accept the situation.
I had heard others complain to this man and his response was to laugh and tell them "they needed" to arise early and greet the dawn, despite their pleas... it was definitely a case of his control issues.
So... I walked away, after taking his photo, and changed my walking pattern so as not to be stuck with him another night.

Annoying? Yes
Ruin my Camino? No way!

Part of the pilgrimage is learning to deal with the little annoyances. God gives us what we need.
Like when I prayed for patience and bore three sons in a row!
Great sense of humor, that God! :lol:
 

evanlow

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances06
Primitivo07
Plata08
Norte12
Levante(14-15)
Vasco16
Mozarabe(16-17)
Madrid17
Portuguese18
It just goes to show that once the camino gets more popular, we have to expect all types of people.

Heck, I even heard from a pilgrim last year about a camino ghost story. I forgot the exact location, but I believe is somewhere between Burgos and Leon. Imagine bumping into the same pilgrim (German I believe) walking in the opposite direction more than once.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Absolutely .. did you buy a pack of pins when you got home? The poor Opera man .. you can't keep that level of false energy up forever .. it's always hiding an emptiness. I wonder if he's had his breakdown yet, poor chap,

Agree with all that Annie but I thought KerrySean's point was not the actual beliefs but the type that have a closed off smugness about their beliefs, and want to pass them on even if not invited to .. well, I thought that was what he meant ...
but then, I do get things wrong so often ...

I'm a great believer in the power of ritual, in whatever sphere (and like half the early Christians for the first 500 years, I am a reincarnationist too! :| )
 
well, i can say at times Life is not as good as we thought it would be. for me the camino in 2008 was different than i thought or dreamed it would be...much like life, you take the experience as it is organically presented to from..um..fate...or Zeus.

im a mystic and pagan, so walking thru nature and sharing stories with people were responsible for much of my joy i experienced on the Camino. tears one shed. bones that hurt. blisters that healed, or not..all part of an amazing journey.
 

kerrysean

New Member
That opera singer guy would not have been one of my favourites either :) what an incredibly ego-centric way to behave, but sadly not at all uncommon amongst the 'peregrino's'. Br David is absolutely correct, I have no problem with the beliefs of anyone, people are free to believe what they wish, and in the context of a dialogue I am as prepared to listen and possibly learn as the next man or woman. No it is the correlation of smugness and ego-centric behaviour that I found often went with the people who seemed to be most convinced of their high degree of spirituality. Plenty of people who were 'talking the talk' but not 'walking the walk' ie their own degree of self obsessiveness contradicted their self proclaimed 'spirituality' To put it in simple terms I felt that there were plenty of people who would after no more than a 100 meters of road walked would start to indicate that they were 'spiritual' BUT 'not religious', this was usually code for a probe as to whether you too shared this particular 'smorgas-bord' of various new age ideas. My general impression can be summarised in the following three observations

1) There is usually an inverse relationship between the amount of talk about 'spirituality' and any actual evidence of enlightenment.

2) Selfish behaviour such as noisy pre-dawn rising, (it is by the way, by definition always noisy or disturbing to others to get up before dawn, regardless of the protestations of 'I always leave quietly'), was often imposed by the very people who would go on about their spirituality...Many of these people would be MUCH more concerned about disturbing an animal from its slumber than a fellow human being.

3) The new age believers are often guilty of paying scant regard to the Christian and Catholic nature of the Camino. Speak to many of the Spanish volunteers who man the churches about how so many of these folk, seem incapable of observing even a modicum of decorum in the churches...The 3 german 'new agers' who I witnessed wheeling their bicycles into the church in O'Cebreiro for example...the many observations of the volunteers that people who seem to be capable of adopting awed reverence to a pile of stones, walk about talking and laughing in churches over 800 years old...no genuflections, no prayer. The pain that was caused to one volunteer by the regular laughter directed at one particularly 'doll like' but very old and highly revered depiction of the Virgin Mary by ignorant 'peregrino's' . I was with a spanish speaker for the last 200 km and speaking to some of the church volunteers really enlightened me about the mixed feelings that many of the local people in these rural communities have about the so called 'peregrinos', many of whom believe they are beloved by one and all. Believe me THAT is FAR from the truth in all cases...
 

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