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On The Rural Spain


Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Here's something that is not normally associated with the camino but I think is very relevant. An excerpt of the news:

...the hamlet is a snapshot of rural Spain: quaint but graying, with retirees accounting for 75 percent of the population. The arrival of a new family with small children is greeted like manna from heaven. Funding for services is scant.

Its elementary school has one classroom and one teacher who handles its seven pupils, spanning four grades, and ranging in age from 7 to 11. But it is so cramped, the village matrons came up with the idea of building a recreation center for their kids.

"Nobody remembers the villages. Everybody comes and says, 'Wow, this is so pretty, what lovely countryside, you live so well here,' but then they don't help you at all. They give you absolutely nothing," Itziar Zamarreno, a 40-year-old town councilor who posed for the calendar, said in an interview Tuesday.

This is a reminder that the caminos in Spain does not go through every rural town.

And the title of this article? (Hold on to your seat).

Spanish mothers in debt after trying a nearly nude fund-raising calendar for rural school. (via the Herald Tribune)

A la the repeat of the Calendar Girls in the UK, but unfortunately in their case it has gotten them into debt. Sad...

So what's that got to do with the the camino via de la Plata? Well, they are from the province of Salamanca, in a town called Serradilla del Arroyo. That is about 50 km west from the camino route before Salamanca heading towards the border town of Ciudad Rodrigo (a nice detour, according to some Travel Guides for Spain).

Whether or not you approved the town's method for funding their school, it still shows the plight and challenges of rural Spain. Sometimes you just can't separate the pilgrimage and the people in the land that you're walking on.

I probably won't be making this detour on my via de la Plata later this month. But if I ever chance upon the calendar along the way, I might actually buy one. Yeah, I know, it's not exactly the appropriate material for a pilgrim to carry along. But hey, it's for a good cause. :mrgreen:


The guide books are right, Cuidad Rodrigo is worth a visit. We flew to Valladolid for a weeks holiday last year, spending time in Salamanca, Zamora and Cuidad Rodrigo. I walked the vdlp in 2004 so it's been good to go back to places I have walked through.


Active Member
It is quite relevant indeed, even more so than the ridiculous questions like : what kind of shoes to wear or should I take a poncho or a raincoat...

To walk to Santiago does not prevent one from being conscious of the social problems of the country you are crossing. Sure it is a pilgrimage and your health and well being is important but none of us should ignore the situation which prevails in rural Spain.


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