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Post from Rosina - Santiago

sillydoll

Veteran Member
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#1
Probably the most troubling news that I learned about during my visit to Santiago last week concerns fake pilgrims and the problems that they represent, which are much, much worse than we could have imagined, and which explain some of the actions undertaken regarding pilgrims credentials, two seals per locality etc.
It turns out that there has been an alarming number of unscrupulous “travel agents” who have actually “sold” the Camino to bus tourists guaranteeing lodging at the albergues and even a Compostela. Some of them have even charged extra for the Botafumeiro “show”.
Many and repeated instances of bare-faced attempts to bribe hospitaleros in order to obtain beds for groups of more than ten people have been reported top the Xunta and to the Archdiocese, and dozens and dozens of “turigrinos” who paid extra for the Botafumeiro and didn’t get to see it complained loudly and disorderly at the Cathedral itself. Disagreeable and nerve-racking confrontations between hospitaleros and fake-pilgrims and their “leaders” have been alarming, and the array of fake “credentials” is mind-boggling.

Because of this, the powers-that-be (Xunta, Archdiocese and Xacobean activities’ groups) have published a solicitation of offers from private organizations to manage the net of public albergues on the Camino. Those interested will have to submit a proposal detailing the precise activities intended to be put in place to:
a) insure the pilgrim bona-fides of those seeking a place in the albergues;
b) to provide assistance to pilgrims as needed;
c) to take care of the cleaning and maintenance of the albergues, and,
d) to safeguard and deposit the 3 Euros per night which, commencing on January 1, 2008, pilgrims will be required to contribute.

Somehow a yearly budget of 2.3 million Euros has been estimated for the purpose.
Other albergues will continue their own practices and charges. Roncesvalles, for instance, requires a contribution of 5 Euros per night, and the majority of albergues maintained by religious orders will continue their practice of making pilgrims’ contributions entirely voluntary.

Also, pursuant to some of the suggestions made by pilgrims, several changes will take place beginning next year. The information pamphlet regarding activities and services available to pilgrims, presently available only in Spanish, will be translated into English, German, Italian Portuguese and French, and will be given to pilgrims as they receive the Compostela, or certificate, in accordance to their language. The current pamphlet informs about the Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays 9:00 p.m. Pilgrims reunion at the Cathedral; about the “Santiago Sepulcher in History” conferences; about the informal “dialogue” meetings with pilgrims and about the “Spirituality” meetings at the church of Saint Francis at 4:30 p.m.

While logistically it is not practical to call on the pilgrims separately at Mass according to their nationalities, they will be asked to stand, as a group, at the beginning of the Pilgrims Mass to be recognized and saluted. As mentioned, the tiraboleirosa (the guys that make the Botafumeiro fly) are not happy with the new rope. The new rope is made of synthetic fabrics interwoven with steel strands and is not only heavier than the previous ropes but it stretches, which characteristics present a problem. Some officials are scouting the countryside to locate the plants from which the natural fibers of the old ropes came in order to try to replicate them. It is also being considered, unfortunately, to eliminate the use of the Botafumeiro altogether during 2010, except, perhaps, for Easter and Christmas.

Because of the immense number of pilgrims expected in 2010 it had been pre-planned to hold masses in Quintana Square. The plan has been reconsidered because the Holy door opens to Quintana, and the number of pilgrims in serpentine lines, six abreast, waiting to go through the door covers the entire square. New plans are being worked out to hold the Masses in Obradoiro square.
A lot of work is being done in the Cathedral; those parts that have been cleaned out look very lovely. But the columns of the Portico de Gloria are now out of bounds. The Tree of Jesse and the two columns by its sides are surrounded by metal barriers that prevent their being touched, so that putting one’s hand in the ancient hollows is no longer possible, nor is it butting one’s forehead with Maestro Mateo’s.

There is a tremendous amount of work to be done in the Cathedral and its surroundings, and several present day pilgrims are doing what the ancient ones did hundreds of years ago: bringing building stones to help out in the effort.
There is a story today in the Santiago newspapers of a guy who climbed the Holy Door to embrace the statue of Santiago above it. An understandable desire, perhaps. But the guy was absolutely and entirely naked¦. And he hovered up there, in the altogether, for about 15 minutes¦. Until the cops talked him into coming down.
 

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#2
With, perhaps, the exception of the naked climber, this is all very welcome news, I think.

There has been much grumbling in pilgrim circles as rumours have spread about a tightening up on "proof of pilgrimage" - whilst the so called 2 sello per day requirement hasn't yet materialised I was in the piglrims' office a couple of times and did hear people being questioned about their starting point, the length of the etapas they had walked and so on.

With Rosina's posting from the recent meeting in Santiago we are perhaps getting close to the reason for the sensitivities of the Cathedral Authorities. We shouldn't be surprised at tour operators and others trying to take unscrupulous advantage of the wonderful facilities of the Camino - it is what they do! I can easily imagine them trying to bribe hospitaleros. Also as knowledge of the Camino grows as more books are written and read and mouths spread the word there will be a concomitant growth in fake credentials and other scams.

It is also no surprise that counter measures to protect the pilgrimage for pilgrims are being considered and taken.

On several occassions in the Cathedral before the PIlgrims' Mass I saw tour operators comandeering seats for tourists in their party and of course we've all seen pilgrims who have just arrived still wearing their rucksacks having to stand while tourists sit and fan themselves.

So it is also a good development that at the start of the Pilgrims' Mass there will be more recognition of pilgrims - the tourists can applaud prilgrims now!
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
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#3
More from Rosina:

The Galician newspapers reported a few days ago that the number of Santiago pilgrims this year has surpassed the total number of pilgrims during the last Holy Year, 2004.
As of yesterday, November 30, 230,000 people had presented themselves to the Pilgrims Office, but only 113,202 received a Compostela (the total Compostela recipients in 2004 numbered 179,944). The office estimates that this month another 1,000 or 1,500 pilgrims will have earned a Compostela, most of them German, Italian or French who seem to plan their pilgrimage in order to arrive in Santiago for Christmas. Another fact of note is that from the first of September, until March or so the number of foreign pilgrims surpasses that of those from Spain.
As mentioned before, the manager of the Pilgrims' office and the Archconfraternity's secretary will be in New York City for a week arriving on December 16. Their visit will represent a unique opportunity for us to offer suggestions as to things of importance to us, and to find out information about things that concern us which is not readily available. Some subscribers to these lists have already posed questions and suggestions (for instance...... how can you go about volunteering for the tremendous chores that will arise in 2010........ four Pilgrims' Masses daily, for instance and so on). As most of us know, if you really want to know about something, or want to get something done, you do it through the people who run the office. Some of us have ideas as to how to improve the albergues.... small suggestions.... like providing hooks in the shower stalls, etc.........well, this is a golden opportunity to present them and be fairly sure that they will be acted upon.
Lastly, when in Santiago, do go to the ArchConfraternity's open office on Quintana square. It is located between the entrance to the church and the Holy Door, and it is open from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Not only will you be provided with maps, information, etc., but you will also see an impressive array of works of art (painting, sculptures, art books) created by talented pilgrims from all over the world. The pieces stay there for a while and then are sent to a Museum or Church, etc. The office is not under the pressures of the Pilgrims' Office and you can sit down there and sense, almost unconsciously, the mystery that has made millions of pilgrims feel as brothers and sisters for centuries and centuries.
 
#4
Roncesvalles, for instance, requires a contribution of 5 Euros per night, (Rosina)

In my opinion, what is really surprising is why holland volunteers come free to attend an albergue where pilgrims have to pay to stay. So, if it's necessary to pay, why volunteers don't receive any money? In my opinion, it's bad done by Roncesvalles pilgrims albergue.

Just an opinion.

Javier Martin
Madrid, Spain.
 

sillydoll

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#5
Javier, there are many other albergues that charge and are run by volunteers.
The monastery at Roncesvalles still has to pay for water and electricity - and the volunteers are only there for about 6 months of the year. Each bed has a mattress cover and pillow (which probably get washed quite regularly). When I was there we could use the Internet for 15 minutes for free, we were given paper to stuff into our wet boots and big black bags to wear in the rain the day we left. We were also offered coffee, hot chocolate and biscuits for breakfast - all of these cost money.
For most people 5 euro is not much to pay. (South Africans pay over R10 for every 1 euro so we pay the equivalent of 50 euro)
 

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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:
#6
Ooops - I meant to say that we pay R50.
 
#7
Yes, I know costs are high and volunteers are making a great work in many albergues, most albergues we can say but ... in many of them the cost of the albergue is much lower than what pilgrims pay for it.

You are right about Roncesvalles, is not the best example, it's expensive to heat this big building and other maintenances, I could see this good heating on early april this year, but in my opinion it happens in any other albergues.

Imagine any quite big or not so big albergue that you know, with 60 beds. From april to october - 200 nights - let's imagine a daily rate of 50 beds occupance, 5 euros each, so it means 50,000 euros in this period.

In my opinion 50,000 euros can be considered a lot of money to maintain an albergue. Even 40,000 for a rate of 40 beds, and 30,000 for a rate of 30.

Buen Camino,

Javier Martin
Madrid, Spain.
 
#8
This is an interesting debate and the "traditional" albergues like those run by the CSJ stick to the donation principle seeking to promote " a pilgrim takes what he needs and gives what he can" but on many of the routes particularly the Camino Frances privately owned albergues are opening all over the place - some with sheets and blankets, private rooms, washing mashines and dryers and for this of course they will charge 10 or 12 euros - they are doing it to make money! The question is when the privates will outnumber the ones founded on other values?
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
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#9
On the DVD - Welcome - Marion Marples from the CSJ UK says that they do not want to charge anything because pilgrims will then have expectations. For example, if they run out of hot water the pilgrims don't feel entitled to complain!
 
#11
It's really difficult to establish rules if your target is that pilgrims who arrive the latest to the albergue has hot water, a bed, etc. Sometimes, the pilgrims who arrive at 14:00 spend the hot water to wash their clothes, for example. But we have ¿more than one hundred? albergues, each one different to all others, with different conditions and it's very difficult to say which is the best way to run it.

When I stay in a albergue, I try to understand it's rules and the reason why it exist. Sometimes you can find any surprising rules.

One of the biggest problems is: If you ask money, the person who pays believes he has rights. If it's free and he can pay what he considers, many, many times he doesn't contribute to the spends of the albergue. So, in my opinion, could be a solution to ask some money, but just the necessary to run the albergue and let it be confortable, but not more, not for being a business.

And private albergues ... of course, this is a business, they have to earn benefits.

¿The CSJ albergues are run by donations? The same as do the AGACS albergue in Corcubion. In my opinion is the nicest way to offer hospitality.

Javier Martin
Madrid, Spain.
 

sillydoll

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#12
Rosina reports:
The bids made by private organizations interested in managing the red of public albergues were opened Wednesday and are presently being perused. Since most of the new rules will go into effect on January 1, 2008, a decision will have to be made fairly soon, so it shouldn’t be long until we learn it.
Those interested can read an article about it on the Nov. 25 Correo.
 
#13
Not all private albergues are purely money-making operations. Certainly there's been an opportunity for local people to benefit from grants to the tourist trade to set up businesses. But a number have been set up by people from elsewhere who love the Camino and have chosen to provide good services to pilgrims in a spirit of care.
 

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:
#14
Latest post from Rosina

The Galician newspapers report that an average of 400 bona fide pilgrims are showing up every day in O Cebreiro. While the albergue there has been refurbished and enlarged there is no way that it can accommodate so many pilgrims.
It is also reported that about 70,000 pilgrims are expected to walk to Finisterra this summer, which is why the authorities there have increased their search for those qualified persons who may be interested in "hospitalizing" and sponsoring albergues in the environs. Apparently the authorities are ready to offer all sorts of assistance.
The Archdofradia is very confident that Pope Benedict, presently in Australia for Youth's World Day, will accept their invitation to go to Santiago in 2010, the next Xacobean Holy Year.
Lastly, while the refurbishing of the Dean's House will include rest areas for pilgrims in the courtyard, storage facilities for bikes, backpacks, and so on, an information desk on the ground floor and sufficient bathrooms, it will not, alas, include the originally planned coffee bar.
 
#15
... It is also reported that about 70,000 pilgrims are expected to walk to Finisterra this summer, which is why the authorities there have increased their search for those qualified persons who may be interested in "hospitalizing" and sponsoring albergues in the environs ...


Sil, 70,000 pilgrims are expected to walk to Fisterra or just to go to Fisterra ...? As you know, only pilgrims who walk can stay into the albergue, the others pilgrims (Santiago-Fisterra by bus, or a rented car) has to pass night in hotels or pensions ... or in the faro of Fisterra.

Buen Camino,

Javier Martin
Madrid, Spain.
 

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