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'The Unlikely Pilgrims' film & group v individual needs

2020 Camino Guides

Helen1

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
London to Santiago (2014)
Narbonne to Oloron (2015)
Camino Portugues (2016)
Sentier Cathar (2017)
The 'The Unlikely Pilgrims' documentary popped up in my Amazon Prime Video feed and with nothing better to watch I thought I would give it a go. This is a gritty, raw, and unromantic portrayal of the camino and it's not easy viewing at times. I don't want to criticise the project too much because it takes a lot of guts to try something new and I think this was an ambitious thing to try. In another thread dougfitz wrote:

@Walter1407, I was fortunate enough a couple of months ago to attend a viewing of the Australian documentary 'The Unlikely Pilgrims' which took the tagline 'nothing heals like a little distance''. Its blurb states:
The film follows Ronan, a counsellor, who believes that rescuing can do a lot of damage. He also believes in the healing power of long-distance trails. Ronan invites a group of recovering addicts to walk the 800km Camino de Santiago, with him as their guide. The walk challenges them to breaking point, and there is immense growth, but there is significant cost to Ronan as a result.​
For me, it reinforced that anyone who encourages someone who is mentally fragile to join them on a venture like this takes on an enormous responsibility. Amongst other things, it really requires the person who acts as a guide to determine what is most important - the achievement of any personal pilgrimage objectives or the welfare and care of their companions.
I couldn't agree with this more. Strikes me that it is very difficult to balance group and individual needs on a camino in which people are walking to deal with something in their lives. I don't want to bash camino tours because I know a couple of people who had awesome experiences walking in groups and if you want a walking holiday, group spiritual experience, a local guide, etc. why not? But I can't help thinking that if you want to walk a camino to work out a problem then I think you need a lot flexibility to walk alone or have a short/long day and deal with the emotions of whatever is bothering you. I am unsure how you do this in a group where you are almost certainly on a fixed schedule.
 

Raggy

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Mozarabe Almeria (2017)
Cherhill to Canterbury - Pilgrims' Way (2018)
Via Francigena (2019)
Am I the only one who doesn't think that taking a group of recovering alcoholics to a place with free flowing vino tinto is a bad idea??
Hmm. But there's alcohol to drink in most places, isn't there? I don't know that it's harder to be a recovering alcoholic in Spain than it is in another country.
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
Hmm. But there's alcohol to drink in most places, isn't there? I don't know that it's harder to be a recovering alcoholic in Spain than it is in another country.
Hmm. But there's alcohol to drink in most places, isn't there? I don't know that it's harder to be a recovering alcoholic in Spain than it is in another country.
I have never had an alcoholic drink in my life, and I have no idea what makes things harder or not with regard to alcoholism. What I do know is that while on Camino, I have never been exposed to alcohol beverages more frequently as a normal course in my daily routine. The same with dining out.

If frequency and ease of exposure makes it harder for recovering alcoholics, then walking a Camino might be an issue which needs acknowledgement.
 

Helen1

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
London to Santiago (2014)
Narbonne to Oloron (2015)
Camino Portugues (2016)
Sentier Cathar (2017)
Am I the only one who doesn't think that taking a group of recovering alcoholics to a place with free flowing vino tinto is a bad idea??
:)

The film is about recovering drug addicts though, most of whom seemed to have been using drugs to forget about pain/mental illness in their lives.
 

Stivandrer

Perambulating & Curious. Rep stravaiging offender
Camino(s) past & future
I´ve got Camino plans until 2042,
- or till I fall flat on my face, whichever comes first !!
Around ´68, one of my schoolmates was taken by a wise therapist cum writer to walk the Camino, or as it was called then - "Jacobs Way". He had been affected by substance abuse...
Asked my father as a pastor if he knew about the Way and he honestly thought it had gone into oblivion...
This was the first time, I heard of the living Camino. Dreamed then of one day walking it...
When you consider that communities in Medieval Europe sent their incorrigibles on the move to SdC, as a form of sentencing or test, it must still be an inert function of the Way....
..and my friend; at the last school reunion, I heard that he had been straight and abstinent for years and then suddenly od´ed one sunny day a few years ago...
-there is no way of telling: temptations, trials, success, failure - there is no safe code to existence..
 
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