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Some pretty silly questions.

Artemis

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2006, Camino Portuguese 2009
#1
In the whole scheme of things these questions are pretty silly but I want to know anyway so I will ask.
In Shirley MacLaine's book she talks about how dirty the albergues are and that at some of them the mattresses have been gnawed by mice. I have read other books and looked at websites and they don't look bad to me but since I have an irrational fear of mice I thought I would ask.
Also, what is the shower and bathroom situation like? I have read somewhere that there are no shower curtains in some places so does modesty have to be put aside?
 

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#2
The size, cleanliness, warmth, facilities of the refugios all vary and the ones with the best atmosphere may not be at the top of the class in all or any of the above.

There are some large ones with all the facilities that do not have half the appeal of some of the more basic ones. Some of the refugios looked after by confraternities are well manned and some small village ones are unmanned. They are all different.

It is best to start walking and see what comes up and I suspect you will stop worrying about your modesty by day 2 or 3, whatever the shower curtain situation, as everyone is in the same position as you.

Buen Camino
William
 
#3
Mice

I did it a couple of years ago and never saw a mouse or any affects of them. However, the dorms are defintely are not as quite as a mouse :_)
 

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:
#4
Albergues/Refugios

These questions are never silly. Chances are others have the same concerns but are not brave enough to ask.
When one is sitting at home it is difficult to imagine stepping outside your comfort zone. The camino teaches you many lessons and one of the first I learned was to slough off preconceived ideas of what is important (that I had to have privacy, an en suite bathroom, clean sheets, two pillows etc.) The 2nd lesson was to travel light (even it it means packing some stuff into a pilgrim box and posting it to yourself in Santiago!) Once you have divested yourself of psychological and material baggage you can start enjoying the other lessons the camino has to teach.
Remember that Shirely Maclaine walked in 1994. There was a big clean up of refuges for the 1999 Holy Year and about 15 new albergues were built in Galicia to coincide with the visit of Pope John Paul. I don't want to be unkind to Shirley, but she also saw Knights, Charlemagne, vanilla scented saints and gave birth to the first female in the land of Lemuria! Unless you are smoking something, the chances of you seeing and doing anything similar are very small!
A really good book to read on the camino is WALK IN A RELAXED MANNER by Joyce Rupp. She struggled to accept some of the conditions, not to criticise others, to see the beauty in everything. Joyce is a Sister and walked with a retired priest. Her book is a 'warts and all' account of her camino.
Have a wonderful camino dear pilgrim.
 
#5
Artemis:

Books are certainly helpful in some situations, though I would imagine that Joyce Rupp was too busy looking for sparks of New Age wisdom in the female mice to tell you whether they chewed on her mattress or not.

I have already found that the best thing you can do is to send a private message to someone on the forum who has already done the Camino you are planning on doing, and then the two of you can talk in great detail about your needs and their experiences.

Buen Camino!
 

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Artemis

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2006, Camino Portuguese 2009
#6
Thanks for the replies. I don't want to give the impression that I am some prim and proper Miss Priss because I am not. I figure that if there are mice I will have to finally overcome that fear which would be great. I am 100% willing to step out of my comfort zone, in fact that is one of the many reasons I want to do this so that I can do something like nothing I have ever done before.
Sillydoll, I have the same opinion of Shirley MacLaines book. I have read it a number of times because I want to read the day to day account but I now have to skip over some parts. The only other books I have right now are more guide books.
 
#7
For a very interesting read - though without travel tips - I wouls suggest reading the last chapter of James Michener's "Iberia". The lengthy chapter is all about the Camino de Santiago from Roncesvalles onward, and really beautifully written. You can probably pick up a copy at a second-hand bookshop.
 
#8
Re: Albergues/Refugios

sillydoll said:
I don't want to be unkind to Shirley
why not? Her book is of little practical use and, whilst you'll learn about her visions and peculiar ideas, you won't learn much about the historical and religious aspects of the Camino or the pilgrimage to the shrine of St James. Were she not famous, I bet noone would read it. IMO you're much better off reading the accounts of non-famous people - fortunately, there are large numbers of these on the web.

As William says, albergues vary widely. Even with the best will in the world, when you have such a large number of people, not all of whom are as clean or as fragrant as one might wish, all sleeping together in one room every night, it's not easy to keep things in good order. However, I would also say that cheaper hotels in Spain also vary widely: some are delightful, all that's best in family-run businesses; some are downright disgusting.
 
#10
I did the Camino in 1996 and I can't honestly remember ever being really put off by a refugio. As has been stated before they are all completely different and some are cleaner than others, but after a long day of walking you're usually just happy to have a place to rest, and if you have to share it with a few mice then so be it.
The worst I had to face in that journey were (very!) strict nuns who would kick you out of bed at 6 in the morning.

And I can't imagine the situation has worsened over the last decade, what with the rise in popularity and all...
 
#11
actually shirley walked in 99, the same year i did
and a few weeks ahead of me

i saw one torn shower curtain
i walked across the street and
bought another one as a gift for the refugio
i bought the cheapest one in the store
it was torn by the time i finished my shower

what was really maddening was the shortage of clothespins
i bought a package of them for the refugio in santo domingo
within twenty minutes most of them had been stolen

didn't see any evidence of mice, but i did get fleas in 2000
(european fleas are different from american fleas
american fleas live on animals but will bite human beings if they're around
european fleas actually live on humans)
i had to wash everything in my pack including my sleeping bag
every day for two weeks
fortunately this happened toward the end of the camino
where most of the albergues had washers

i though the fleas added a nice
medieval touch to my camino

but what about the flies?
how come nobody mentions the flies?
spain's greatest natural resource
after rocks, clay, and sand
if only someone could find a way to make a profit
off of flies

shirley also makes a big deal about dogs
the only remotely hostile dog i encountered
was a little yappy thing on a leash in pamplona

another thing that's really annoying...
all the idiots who insist on packing their personal belongings
in plastic grocery bags then
wait until five in the morning to organize their backpacks
by all means use plastic bags
they make packing and unpacking much easier
but give your fellow pilgrims a break and
use the plastic zipper bags that sheets come in or
packing cubes from eagle creak or rick steves
 
#13
mice, dogs, and shirley maclaine

Artemis,

Thanks for posting these questions. I'm at the planning stages of a possible pilgrimage next summer, and I appreciated this thread more than you can imagine. I read Shirley's book and thought the entire experience was so cool, until I read about the dogs and mice. I have a debilitating phobia of dogs and I was ready to toss out the whole idea of doing my own camino when I read about the angry dogs on the path. I could probably deal with mice, but I'm glad to read that things aren't that bad.
 

omar504

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016,2017,2018
#14
I never came across mice on the via de la plata-although I did encounter one flea/bed bug bite-not bad for 1000kms. Only 2 dogs that were really aggresive and when I threw stones over their heads they ran off and fetched them back!
I echo what someone else said about the idiots and their plastic bags at some ungodly hour, like 5am-if you want to get up that early sleep outside-even on the vdlp I met a few of these odd people who started walking hours before daylight-not very intelligent.
As for modesty all the albergues I stayed in had doors or curtains-not that I was that fussed-my only precaution was to wear thongs/flip flops.
Kevin
 

Artemis

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2006, Camino Portuguese 2009
#15
cilento, you are more than welcome. I finished my camino Nov. and it was the most wonderful experience. The albergues were not dirty at all and as for the dogs, I thought they were very well behaved. I guess they are bored with all the pilgrims walking by them all day. When I was walking into Foncebon though I will say that I was a little afraid. After reading the book I had promised myself that when I walked through there I would make sure I was walking with other people. It turned out that I was completely alone for that stage. I started walking slowly through the small village and saw 3 huge dogs lying in the middle of the street blocking my way. I took a deep breath and continued walking. They didn't even bother to open their eyes but just kept sleeping. It was quite a relief and made me laugh at myself. I did come across 2 places with no shower curtains or doors but it wasn't a problem because I just took a quick shower when noone was around. I did see one tiny little mouse in a bathroom that I think must have come from a field. It was tiny and round and I asked a man if he could just escort it out but instead he bashed it with a broom and I felt horrible about it. You will be surprised that everything you worry about before you go will not seem important at all when you are there. If you have any questions that you think are too silly to post here please feel free to PM me. I will be more than happy to answer anything I can.
 
#16
Thanks Artemis for opening this thread.

Nothing silly about these questions. They're as essential to talk about as buying backpacks or shoes and what season to walk the Camino in.

Cilento, I have a terrible fear of dogs too.

I have now walked the Camino francés two times. Because of my phobia, I found walking in rural Galicia an ordeal each time. I don't mean I was attacked by dogs, as I never was. But they were present in nearly every village, a lot of them not tied up. They would bark as people approached the village. Barking doesn't bother a lot of people, but for people with a phobia of dogs, it is a terrifying sound.

In the end, I found that despite all my fears, I only had really lovely experiences with dogs on the Camino. Both times. But I did work hard at staying calm. And I also made a point of walking with others when I could in Galicia as I just felt calmer walking past dogs that way.

By the way, an interesting thing I noticed on the Camino was that many of the people I met who found my fear of dogs "amusing" had their own irrational fears and hangups which they, of course, didn't consider silly.

One of the things I think is truly important is to show respect to others when they express their fears. There's nothing worse for someone who has a crippling phobia than to find themselves judged as silly. This thread and the advice given here are a step in the right direction.

John
 
#17
dogs in Foncebadon

Foncebadon's reputation re dogs is out of date. There used to be a problem with feral dogs in F. - a common problem with abandoned villages: the young people move to the towns, the old folk die off, and the dogs are left to fend for themselves. However, F. is no longer abandoned but has been revived by the people walking the Camino.

Problems with dogs are rare, as the aggressive ones are normally tied up. In my experience, the problem is not with the large dogs that make a lot of noise and not much else, but with the little yappy ones that run up behind you and nip you in the heels when you're not expecting it - annoying, but not dangerous.
 
#18
Dogs

I find traveling with a walking stick(s) is a great benefit when concerned with dogs.

I've never had to use them on an animal, but felt a greater level of security that I had something to use if (Heaven forbid) the situation arose.
 
#19
new question

You guys are all so encouraging. It was hard for me to admit to myself that, after years of dreaming about the pilgrimage, I was willing to toss my dream aside, but I was rather close to doing just that. I believe you when you say that these things we worry about here will not be problems over there. As I read through more of the posts (I just discovered this site this week), I'm getting more of a sense of what the atmosphere is like on the Camino. And the more I read, the more I realize how much I need an experience like this in my life right now.

I do have another question. I was born gay and raised Catholic. That was rough. I have since left the Church, but linger around the beautiful rituals and ceremonies from time to time, especially when I travel. I find it fascinating, and I'm always respectful of others' beliefs. I consider myself more spiritual than religious.

My question is this: Would it be a problem for me to be out on this journey? I would love to hear what your experiences were like, and if you met openly gay pilgrims along the way. What would your advice be?

Thanks,
Nick
Jersey City, NJ
 
#20
Re: new question

cilento said:
My question is this: Would it be a problem for me to be out on this journey? I would love to hear what your experiences were like, and if you met openly gay pilgrims along the way. What would your advice be?
Thanks,
Nick
I would say you would not have a problem. I have met openly gay plgrims on the way and they were treated in the same way as everyone else. Whatever rudeness or acts of kindness you receive will not be due to whether you are out or not.

Buen Camino
William
 

marktqm

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2006)
#21
When I walked the camino in May 2006, the unchained dogs on the Camino Frances looked lethargic. The only close call I had was at Laguna de Castilla, the village before O Cebreiro. Does anybody remember that wet manure-lined road with the elevated platform on the right where that loud barking dog with flying drool is chained? It was the ringing eardrums and drool that got me; given some extra chain length he could have easily bitten my head off.

I haven't met any pilgrim who was bitten by dogs in Spain, but I had dinner with a British fellow named Mike in Logrono who said he was bitten by a small dog upon arrival in (or just before) Saint Jean Pied de Port. The house owner knew about it and never did anything. I saw his freshly healed wound so that wasn't a tall tale.

I myself am more afraid of encountering cows with horns than dogs. The walking stick can't do much.

Mark Mulingbayan
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Jul-Aug 05, Frances, Jul-Aug 06, Portugues, Oct 2010
#22
The above poster Erencejo69 has been using the boards to post pornographic material.

Ivar can this user please be blocked.

Other members if you can figure out how to block this person please do so.
 

Trudy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2006) Roncesvalles to Leon (2007) Leon to Compostela
#23
Hi Cilento, on the Camino noone will question your sexuality, religious beliefs, or motives for walking. Pilgrims are very accepting of others - if only we could transfer this acceptance into everyday life at home!

Re your earlier question about showers, this was a problem I had to overcome. Between Roncesvalles and Leon I found only one bathroom where the shower had a curtain but no dressing room. Luckily this was a ladies bathroom, not unisex, so I just turned my back and got on with dressing!

Hygeine can sometimes be a problem, especially if you're late into the albergue and others have had their shower. Do take flip-flops/thongs for your feet. Great if you're a bit squeamish, but also practical as you'll avoid picking up (or indeed spreading) athlete's foot (tinea).

I've never seen evidence of mice or other vermin in any albergues, and dogs were not a problem at all.

Once you start walking all these thoughts and problems will just melt away, and you'll be living in the moment.

Buen Camino
 

Trudy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2006) Roncesvalles to Leon (2007) Leon to Compostela
#24
Artemis and Cilento

Hi, my last post should have been addressed to both Artemis and Cilento. Have only just realised that two seperate people asked questions, so sorry if I've offended either one of you!
 

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