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The future of Camino Hospitality

Discussion in 'Announcements' started by Rebekah Scott, Mar 28, 2017.

  1. Old Gringo

    Old Gringo Member

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    Speaking to a manager of a private albergue in Extremadura along the Via de la Plata in 2015 I found out that he worked for a hotel chain that was taking over municipal run albergues along the Plata. He said they had taken over three and were negotiating for more. They took reservations (there was a reserved sign on two beds) and didn’t seem to care if their client was a peregrino or not. His albergue was clean, well laid out, with a washer and a vending machine. However, he mentioned the first thing they did when they take over an albergue is take out the kitchen for liability reasons. I am not against private albergues, quite the opposite. They are an important part of the Camino infrastructure. But when municipalities sign over their albergues to a for profit organization this may not bode well for peregrinos with limited resources as these albergues are more costly and you cannot cook in them. Also peregrinos could be displaced by day tripping individuals.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2017
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  2. richeyboy

    richeyboy Member Donating Member

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    Brilliant, Rebekah, and there is nothing more to be said.
     
  3. fraluchi

    fraluchi Veteran Member Donating Member

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    One could assume that these municipal albergues' upkeep had been costing in excess of the communities' financial capabilities. Professional hospitality operators, contracted under clear terms (including serving bona-fide pilgrims), might eventually prove to be a workable solution to either provide services or simply close. :cool:
     
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  4. marilyn van graan

    marilyn van graan Member

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    Thank you for this - hard to say anything more after this post - the only thing I would like to add is "Please pilgrims lets keep the camino as it should be - a place where we long to come back to again and again ........
     
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  5. Ray J

    Ray J Member

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    Finally! I imagine there were pilgrims back in 1993 who lamented all the newbies who used backpacks instead of wicker baskets, had boots instead of sandals, and used maps instead of dead reckoning. Short version of the original post: Things change.
     
  6. JabbaPapa

    JabbaPapa "True Pilgrim"

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    I was put up by one ex-pilgrim who did it in the 1950s, and who clearly thought that even the yellow arrows were a shameful luxury compared to the "real" Camino of guessing your own way, in complete solitude, and relying on nothing but the kindness of strangers ... he only started respecting me after I spent a night on a dirt floor and after it emerged I'd done exactly that in '94 :rolleyes:
     
  7. David

    David Veteran Member Donating Member

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    Oh dear .... I wonder what they would make of the new backpack carrier I just bought ....just going through the road test before they deliver it ....or perhaps it will deliver itself ;)

     
  8. Charl

    Charl Member

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    Wow, beautiful piece of writing, by someone who obviously cares deeply about the spirit of the Camino, and indeed the area it runs through.

    I fully buy into the idea that the Camino Frances route has run the course from off-the-beaten-track experience - pilgrimage - to basically a modern-day mass tourist attraction. However I study social change as a human phenomenon, so for me it's merely fact, not romance, and therefore my take on the future is different.

    Will the Camino die out, as the writer predicts? No, never. Everyone knows the town of Positano on the Italian coast, right? Seventy, eighty years ago it was a small fishing village and the hangout of bohemian poets, writers and artists such as Hemingway. Then it got 'discovered' and tourists flocked there. I was there a few years ago and essentially it's a tourist trap, and has apparently been that way for two or three decades. Did it die out? No, in fact it looked quite flourishing, as was the rest of the Amalfi coast. Same with the Camino. I predict that the economic GDP of the route will continue to climb for quite some time, like, decades. From a tourism perspective it's still relatively under-developed compared to places in France and Italy. Certainly, it's not the high end hotels that'll close down, I expect more to open their doors. But unfortunately, as the writer hinted, it's the low end accommodation that will close down first, or at least change their model. And yes, with it dies the spirit of pilgrimage.

    I just hope that sooner or later it'll lose its moniker as a 'pilgrimage route' because it isn't that anymore, as the writer also says. Call it whatever route you like - wine on foot, adventure route, walkathon, whatever, but not pilgrimage. It's not even about the fluffy soulseeking-self-discovery stuff that's more and more difficult to find; it's simply that per definition it's not longer a pilgrimage. On pilgrimage you focus on a destination where you expect some kind of salvation. Is that still true for the Camino de Santiago? Perhaps, but less and less so.

    And now for the good news. The Camino de Santiago, which is the focus of the writer's address, is only one of, may I say, hundreds of pilgrim routes in the world, and quite a few dozen in Europe. So people wanting a truly back-to-basics pilgrimage route will start seriously considering the Via Francigena, where infrastructure is starting to open up, or for those looking for cold showers and cowshed accommodation, the Via Egnatia. When Syria opens up again I'll be one of the first to walk to Jerusalem. Personally I don't think the Camino de Santiago will be on a prospective dyed-in-the-wool pilgrim's to-do list much longer. It's simply become a victim of its own success.
     
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  9. SEB

    SEB Active Member Donating Member

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    'I just hope that sooner or later it'll lose its moniker as a 'pilgrimage route' because it isn't that anymore, as the writer also says. Call it whatever route you like - wine on foot, adventure route, walkathon, whatever, but not pilgrimage. It's not even about the fluffy soulseeking-self-discovery stuff that's more and more difficult to find; it's simply that per definition it's not longer a pilgrimage. On pilgrimage you focus on a destination where you expect some kind of salvation. Is that still true for the Camino de Santiago? Perhaps, but less and less so.'

    @Charl I couldn't disagree more. Being identified as a 'pilgrimage route' is far more than a 'moniker', it is about centuries of meaning and function. But even if that doesn't count for much in the twenty first century for some who walk the various Camino paths, it counts for an awful lot of people who travel thousands of miles because they have felt called to do so. Some who have felt that call would not necessarily describe themselves as religious, but we all know people who began at SJPDP (and other towns) as walkers and ended in Santiago de Compostela knowing they had been/were pilgrims. You say that 'on pilgrimage you focus on a destination where you expect some kind of salvation.' Who says this is so? The evidence of so many posts on this forum would easily refute that claim as to motivation and personal meanings. Often the walking itself is the time for spiritual reflection and prayers. I don't know of anyone of the many people I met who saw the Camino as goal-oriented, rather it is a process, a gift, grace in some cases. If people are walking for pleasure, or to see the sights of Spain I have no problem with that and welcome their joyful company. They are often the cheerful leavening amidst the sorrow of others and raise the spirits of those they meet along the way. On the other hand, if those people act like it is a cheap holiday, with cheap booze and behave to the detriment of those making pilgrimage, then they are being disrespectful, not only to their fellow walkers but also their host country. Rebekah's post was a long and detailed one because there are no simple analyses for the situation she discussed, but she highlighted what is/has been precious about the Camino and what could be lost. As to the journey being 'no longer a pilgrimage', to paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated.
     
  10. Charl

    Charl Member

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    Thank you for your reply! To clarify, I'll rephrase my definition of pilgrimage: a journey, especially a long one, made to some sacred place as an act of religious devotion. That's the dictionary definition, and states what the purpose and intention was when pilgrimage originated. That's what it still is for the majority of pilgrims in the world (think Mecca or India). But in the modern world the definition and the experience has broadened significantly, so I agree with your descriptions too. The nature of pilgrimage isn't the central point here however. I'm talking about a physical route - the Camino Frances - here, and it's relation to the pilgrimage experience, and how that will play out in future. What I'm trying to put across is that the commercialisation of the Camino Frances route is a natural process that will untie it from the pilgrim experience, and that's an irreversible expression of social change. Historical significance alone won't save it, and you can't put the whole thousand kilometers in a museum. But there are a myriad of other ancient routes rich in history and spiritual depth waiting to be walked, it's not like pilgrim routes are an endangered species. I just thought the original poster was being a bit sentimental about the changes taking place, which was the reason for my post. On the other hand I also empathise, because living on the route and dedicating your life to pilgrims and pilgrimage, and then seeing the environment rapidly change can't be easy.
     
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  11. MichaelC

    MichaelC Member

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    Mecca might not be the best example. Or maybe it's the perfect example. There's been a huge debate the last ten years in the Muslim world over the commercialization of the city, the destruction of ancient buildings, and the building of new high rise hotels. Some say it's turning into Vegas, others into Disneyland. You can take a luxury tour. Chanel, Gucci, and even Paris Hilton have shops in the Mecca Mall (and people were pissed about Hilton!)

    And yet the hajj still happens. It's still a pilgrimage for millions.
     
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  12. Charl

    Charl Member

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    Michael, you have a point, perhaps the Haj is becoming the Camino de Santiago of the Muslim world ;) Their dilemma is probably much more serious than the Camino because Mecca is THE destination and there aren't any alternatives. At least Christians have Rome and Jerusalem to, in a manner of speaking, fall back on.( I'm surprised that the 'churches route' in Turkey isn't a popular pilgrim route.) At this stage the pilgrimages in Tibet and India may be the best examples.

    In the final analysis I think pilgrimage should be viewed as a sort of archetype that, ultimately, bears no linkage to physical place. It has more to do with space, than place. But that's a totally different train of thought.
     
  13. Kathar1na

    Kathar1na Member

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    Thank you for this comment, I was not at all aware of the Las Vegaslization of Mecca, we usually just read about accidents or Shia/Sunni disputes in connection with the pilgrimage to Mecca.

    Interesting as this is - and one could find some intriguing parallels to the Middle Ages, I think - one has to bear in mind that pilgrimage in the Camino context means primarily long-term long-distance pilgrimage on foot, under conditions that are not firmly fixed because there is no overarching institution that could fix them. It is some sort of predominantly outdoors spiritual vacation or retreat (from one's own daily life, not from the world!) on the move, mostly unconnected to personal devotion to a particular faith and where the historic-cultural context provides merely the scenic background. That's the best description I can come up with, and I don't mean it in a "bad" way.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2017
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  14. JabbaPapa

    JabbaPapa "True Pilgrim"

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    It can be tempting to think so, but in my opinion it's inaccurate -- the Camino is essentially different to other pilgrimages because it's alone among the longer ones to have the means of travel as an important element of what it signifies.

    Foot pilgrims on the Assisi or Rome Ways do have a degree of extra recognition whilst they are still on their journey, but at the end, all pilgrims to Rome are just some among many, and a train pilgrim is no different to a plane or bus or foot one.

    Fatima and Lourdes partake of a bit more of the Camino spirit, because Lourdes was in the Middle Ages an important shrine along the Way to Rome from Navarra and northern Spain, and because Fatima has become linked with the Portuguese Way. But this is not the same as the almost organic link between walking and the Camino, and its extremely unusual historic acceptance of non-Catholics as worthy pilgrims.
     
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  15. Kathar1na

    Kathar1na Member

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    Does this refer to the four lines in a long poem? Surely they weren't worthy pilgrims but rather travelers worthy of Christian love, care and hospitality?
     
  16. JabbaPapa

    JabbaPapa "True Pilgrim"

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    The original of that is not a poem. It's advertising.
     
  17. SEB

    SEB Active Member Donating Member

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    Recent comments seem to have strayed some way from the content of Rebekah's post and I count myself as guilty as anyone. I have a marked, but regrettable, tendency to pontificate. It's all too easy to lapse into philosophising from the comfort of a chair in front of a computer. But Rebekah's considerations are those of someone who chose to relocate to another country because of her love for the Camino - she is serious about what she says see and thinks. People new to the forum might not be familiar with her 'ditch-pigs'. Every year, she organises a team made up of herself, her husband and other forum members who give their time to clear litter, soiled toilet paper (and worse) from the Camino trail. I noticed that @Charl said something about Rebekah being 'a bit sentimental about the changes taking place.' I think that when you spend time cleaning up the **** left by other pilgrims, welcome them into your home to stay overnight, or for coffee, organise the visit of a priest to the local church specifically to offer services pilgrims, work as a hospitalera, raise money to improve facilities at San Anton albergue, regularly encounter at first hand the good and the bad of those walking the Camino, and still think it is worth fighting to save what is special about the route, the experience and its religious significance, you are as far from sentimentality as it is possible to be. Additionally, Rebekah regularly attends meetings where important Camino-related matters are discussed, and updates the forum on those discussions. Rebekah is in no need of defenders, I simply state these things for those who didn't already know, because as the forum has a continually rolling membership, newbies can't be expected to know the back story of all our Veteran Members and understand why many of us hold them in esteem.
     
  18. Tincatinker

    Tincatinker Moderator Staff Member Donating Member

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    Nice one SEB. All should note that 'ditch-pigs' do their thing for love of the Camino not for Reb ;)
     
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  19. tyrrek

    tyrrek Veteran Member

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    Well, we all love Reb as well. :)
     
  20. Tincatinker

    Tincatinker Moderator Staff Member Donating Member

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    :oops:
     
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  21. SEB

    SEB Active Member Donating Member

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    Of course, apologies @Tincatinker for not making that clear.
     
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  22. Patrice Reed

    Patrice Reed New Member

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    Thank you Tom. I will walk open minded & respectful of all. My post was to offer a perspective of a walker who is not "religious" but happy to be able to share this experience with others here and on Camino.
     
  23. FrankieBallz

    FrankieBallz New Member

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    I replied earlier, but had a few other thoughts. I walked the Frances for my first trip. Some areas crowded with pilgrims, other areas not so many. There are many paths to Santiago. I'm sure none of these others are as popular or well known as the Frances route. My point is you have options. I was born and have lived in the Tampa, FL area for almost 62 years. The entire Disney/Kississimmee meagaplex is only about an hour away. Orlando can be impossible to drive through at times. I stay away from this area! Yet less than an hour away, you have remote campgrounds in the woods with an abundance of wildlife and bubbling freshwater springs. You can find many less crowded paths to walk in Spain that are not that far away. It depends on what you're looking for.
     
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  24. NicP

    NicP New Member

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    Which route next? Excellent question!
    One of the fabulous things about "the camino" is that there are so many Caminos that one can chose to walk. I walked the Via de la Plata, my first camino, starting a year ago today, joining the Camino Frances in Astorga and then on to Santiago de Compostella. The two (the Via de la Plata and the last part of the camino Frances) were extremely different to one another, and some of that is about the different level of commercialism on the Frances, and its higher volume of pilgrim traffic. They were both spectacular experiences, I am lucky to have had the opportunity and the ability to walk on both of these paths. Each had something unique to offer. I'm not worried about how the camino is changing - living is change, in my view. After what was, at times, a quite solitary experience (with ample time to reflect, to absorb the moment on the road, and yet still with wonderful fellow pilgrims along the way) on the Via de la Plata, the Camino Frances from Astorga offered me something very different, and my Camino experience is much richer for it.

    Whilst I can not dispute any of what Rebekah has said, I remain a camino optimist! Buen Camino!
     
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