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What makes a pilgrim?

Time of past OR future Camino
Via Podiensis and Camino Frances 2023
My husband and I are on our 7th Camino right now, the sparsely traveled Camino Mozarabe in SE Spain. Groups of volunteers run the different sections of the Camino and give you codes and things like that to get into the albergues since there are rarely Hospitaleros. The volunteers been helpful and welcoming to us.

We met 2 young women along they way on their break from medical school walking it backwards because it worked a lot better for them logistically to go from Cordoba to Almeria instead of the other way around. One of them has down the Norte. They have their pilgrim passports, are carrying their things, and have gotten stamps from every section up to the section after Granada.

From Cordoba to Granada, they were fine. Then once they got past Granada, a new group of volunteers took over and told them they were not allowed to stay in the albergues because they are not real pilgrims and just sightseeing tourists since they aren’t walking toward Santiago since a pilgrimage is to a sacred place.

So what makes a pilgrim? Many people have opinions on this: “You’re not a real pilgrim if….” Insert what you want: don’t carry your bag. Don’t sleep in albergues. Skip sections. Have tour groups plan their Camino. Etc. You name it, and people have an opinion on it. But they don’t get turned away from albergues.

But I have never heard of people being denied a bed (keep in mind, this is a lonely, hard Camino through the desert) because they are walking east instead of west. I understand it’s their facilities, and I suppose they can do what they want (?) but this is absolutely against the spirit of the Camino in my opinion.

I don’t know what to do about this, but I feel like this group of volunteers is a bit holier than though in their interpretation of what makes a pilgrim.

I’m quite upset about these women being treated this way. Thoughts?
 
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The albergues are set up to serve pilgrims on their way to Santiago. Many will also host pilgrims who have walked to Santiago and are then returning home by foot. If your intended journey does not either start or finish in Santiago - even if it is only one stage of a longer intended journey - then I do not think it is unreasonable of the owners and managers to refuse access.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Hmm. You’ve acknowledged that the people who create and maintain the facilities are entitled to set their own rules. It’s a given that a pilgrim to Santiago will be walking to, towards, Santiago. Unless of course they’ve been there done that and are on their way home again. That qualification doesn’t seem to apply in this instance.

I’m at a loss to understand what this issue has to do with “what makes a pilgrim?”. Your acquaintances appear to be seeking to take advantage of the accommodation network established to support pilgrims on their journey to or return from Santiago when they have neither been there nor intend to. Neither a credencial nor a backpack make a pilgrim. Pilgrim is as pilgrim does.

My absolutely personal view is that a pilgrim is a person on a pilgrimage. Where to, why and what is in their heart is between them and their gods and absolutely nothing to do with me
 
It is easy to say that if there was space there was no harm but you don't know what the instructions were and the volunteers' previous experience. There have been posts on the forum bemoaning use of albergues on the Norte as cheap beach accommodation.

On the other hand I believe that a previous occasion when people were turned away from the inn which might have inspired a more generous attitude.
 
I agree with @J Willhaus and @Bradypus. Many people have opinions on what constitutes a pilgrim and you can call yourself whatever you want, but those are irrelevant to the rules set by amigos organizations and individual albergues.

Also, keep in mind that you just have the story provided by the two medical students, not that of the volunteers. I humbly suggest that it is possible that the volunteers would relate the interaction differently and perhaps not so breathlessly.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
My husband and I are on our 7th Camino right now, the sparsely traveled Camino Mozarabe in SE Spain. Groups of volunteers run the different sections of the Camino and give you codes and things like that to get into the albergues since there are rarely Hospitaleros. The volunteers been helpful and welcoming to us.

We met 2 young women along they way on their break from medical school walking it backwards because it worked a lot better for them logistically to go from Cordoba to Almeria instead of the other way around. One of them has down the Norte. They have their pilgrim passports, are carrying their things, and have gotten stamps from every section up to the section after Granada.

From Cordoba to Granada, they were fine. Then once they got past Granada, a new group of volunteers took over and told them they were not allowed to stay in the albergues because they are not real pilgrims and just sightseeing tourists since they aren’t walking toward Santiago since a pilgrimage is to a sacred place.

So what makes a pilgrim? Many people have opinions on this: “You’re not a real pilgrim if….” Insert what you want: don’t carry your bag. Don’t sleep in albergues. Skip sections. Have tour groups plan their Camino. Etc. You name it, and people have an opinion on it. But they don’t get turned away from albergues.

But I have never heard of people being denied a bed (keep in mind, this is a lonely, hard Camino through the desert) because they are walking east instead of west. I understand it’s their facilities, and I suppose they can do what they want (?) but this is absolutely against the spirit of the Camino in my opinion.

I don’t know what to do about this, but I feel like this group of volunteers is a bit holier than though in their interpretation of what makes a pilgrim.

I’m quite upset about these women being treated this way. Thoughts?
I will say that yes, they do get turned away at other albergues. Some won't accept people not carrying their bags or people with suitcases. Others won't accept cyclists or people who have not walked the whole stage, etc. Each albergue's owner/manager can make rules about who can and cannot stay there. If you want to change things, you have to become a member of the Amigos organization that runs the albergue. I understand there is a movement to for some more organizations to move in this direction. If you disagree, you can protest and not stay at those kinds of albergues.
 
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From Cordoba to Granada, they were fine. Then once they got past Granada, a new group of volunteers took over and told them they were not allowed to stay in the albergues because they are not real pilgrims and just sightseeing tourists since they aren’t walking toward Santiago since a pilgrimage is to a sacred place.
Not a smart and convincing argument in my opinion. However, these associations don't see themselves as pilgrim associations, they see themselves as associations for the pilgrimage ways to Santiago (either to the town or to the saint, it's often not clear these days) and therefore their remit is caring for the pilgrims who walk to Santiago. And back from Santiago but as we all know hardly anyone walks back these days. No others.

The only practical thing that you can do is write to the association in question. Perhaps they'll write back. In the meantime, you started already the next best thing: a forum thread. 😊

Buena continuación!
 
this is absolutely against the spirit of the Camino in my opinion.
I think you have missed the historical essence of the Camino. Surely the spirit of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela relates to people on their pilgrimage to (and from) the Cathedral in Santiago. They can define "pilgrims" quite broadly, but "to Santiago" is quite clear.

We met 2 young women along they way on their break from medical school walking it backwards because it worked a lot better for them logistically to go from Cordoba to Almeria instead of the other way around.
If volunteers want to establish a network of convenient and inexpensive lodgings - for example, dedicated to couch surfing, AirBnB, birdwatchers, religious groups, student associations, etc. - they are free to do so. This group of volunteers has chosen to establish a network of albergues for pilgrims on their way to Santiago. I don't think they deserve criticism for doing this.

It is also useful to note that the volunteers for the section between Almeria and Granada are the most dedicated volunteers you will find on any Camino. That is why they are stricter - They have defined their intentions and capacity, and have every right to limit their offerings in this way.
 
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I’m at a loss to understand what this issue has to do with “what makes a pilgrim?”. Your acquaintances appear to be seeking to take advantage of the accommodation network established to support pilgrims on their journey to or return from Santiago when they have neither been there nor intend to. Neither a credencial nor a backpack make a pilgrim. Pilgrim is as pilgrim does.
Likewise, I think that the question of whether or not these individuals are pilgrims is a distraction. They might be, but that is not what would necessarily be important. They clearly are not undertaking the Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. There are many things that would indicate to me that if they weren't either intending to walk (or ride) to Santiago or on their return home from there, it would have been entirely inappropriate for them to be using a credential to gain access to pilgrim accommodation. One just has to read the text of the credential to understand that, and by presenting the credential, one is suggesting they have accepted the conditions, including that one is undertaking the Camino to Santiago.

The offer of Christian hospitality to pilgrims is clearly in the context of undertaking the Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. While some pilgrim associations and municipalities running albergues might extend that offer to others, that is not a given. If there is anything 'against the spirit of the Camino' it would be expecting the many volunteers that are motivated to support pilgrims undertaking the Camino de Santiago to provide that hospitality when one is not.
 
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Seems really tough.
But they were wanting to use Pilgrim facilities, whilst they were clearly not on a Pilgrimage.
So it was really up to the 'managers' of the Albergue.
Not sure I could have turned them away but I fully understand the decision.
 
I understand that an albergue might turn away someone walking the opposite direction because it is not, presumably, why the albergue is there, but I do have a hard time with the notion that the limitation is because the Camino infrastructure is only for those who have SdC as a destination. I haven't been here for long, but it seems to me that this forum is filled with people who have no intention of actually going to SdC. Indeed, I read posts from people who actively avoid the "last 100km" and instead walk sections for all the other "pilgrimage" reasons -- contemplation, spiritual renewal, etc. If the infrastructure exists only for people who intend to walk to SdC (whether in one walk or in a series of shorter walks), should they also be turned away? Alternatively, if the two med students were walking for contemplation, spiritual renewal and the like, what distinguishes them from those who are heading in the "right" direction but are not going to SdC?
 
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@ShoshTrvls, great question. All those of us who no longer claim a Compostela, how are we to be counted. All those of us who once made a sincere and intended pilgrimage to the bones of one who may have touched the Divine. Are we now disqualified? All those of us who just want an energising walk in an energising landscape…

Nonetheless I would suggest that the infrastructure of the caminos to Santiago is there for the support of people seeking to make pilgrimage to Santiago and not those, as a kindly volunteer at the Pilgrims Office said to me after one of my indirect trips, “who meander about Iberia just because they can”.

Those who devote time and effort to supporting the caminos de Santiago are the only arbiters in the game
 
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There are many other pilgrimage destination routes in Spain (the Ignaciano, to Fatima, the Lebaniego, to Rome to mention but a few), so I do not accept the notion that you have to be headed to or from Santiago to be admitted into a pilgrim hostel. Many people, particularly in Spain, complete the pilgrimage to Santiago in stages, one year after another so the fact that a person is not heading for Santiago yet shouldn´t disqualify them either. I accept that the many volunteers and associations put a great deal of their own time, effort and money into maintaining the physical structure of the camino and it must be galling if people take advantage of this for a cheap holiday: this is a huge problem on the Norte, as I can testify, but unless this practice has also become a problem on the Mozarabe I think they are being a little hard-nosed here.
 
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On another tack, there are numerous people walking up and down caminos, in particular the Francés who are clearly homeless. They are never refused admission to donativos (or at least the rules say they should not be). For the hospitalero, a pilgrim should be anybody who walks through the door with a credencial. One does not judge.
 
Sorry @dick bird but on this one I absolutely disagree. Heading south on a north bound Camino to no destination other than a convenient one. That doesn’t compare with the “a few days at a time but we’ll get there one day” pilgrim

Edit: and the resident “pilgrims” ? They’ve not got careers to head back to once they’ve had their fun
 
I agree with the others that it is a tough call, but one that I am happy to leave to the discretion of the association that owns the albergues. Before anyone judges them too harshly, it’s good to keep in mind that the Almería Association owns and operates the entire albergue system between Almería and Granada (maybe except for one or two). They have built these albergues with their own labor, they welcome pilgrims in Almería into their homes, they look out for those who are walking, sending WhatsApp messages with notices and warnings of bad weather. And even once in my experience, they ferried inflatable mattresses up and down the albergue network to account for a little “bulge” in pilgrim traffic. Their devotion to traditional hospitality and the “pilgrim spirit” is unsurpassed.

I don’t think we should be quick to criticize their decision or to poke holes in their logic.
 
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I don’t think we should be quick to criticize their decision or to poke holes in their logic.

Just to be clear, I agree that the decision is all their own and that they are entitled to any reason they choose, whether or not others agree with the policy or reason. My post was just a think piece for discussion.
 
I understand that an albergue might turn away someone walking the opposite direction because it is not, presumably, why the albergue is there, but I do have a hard time with the notion that the limitation is because the Camino infrastructure is only for those who have SdC as a destination. I haven't been here for long, but it seems to me that this forum is filled with people who have no intention of actually going to SdC. Indeed, I read posts from people who actively avoid the "last 100km" and instead walk sections for all the other "pilgrimage" reasons -- contemplation, spiritual renewal, etc. If the infrastructure exists only for people who intend to walk to SdC (whether in one walk or in a series of shorter walks), should they also be turned away? Alternatively, if the two med students were walking for contemplation, spiritual renewal and the like, what distinguishes them from those who are heading in the "right" direction but are not going to SdC?

Good points!
Indeed I've considered walking shorter Caminos,
without ending in SdC, mainly due to lack of time (and old legs)
Sometimes we might need to take a long hard look in the mirror...... :rolleyes:
 
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Hmm. You’ve acknowledged that the people who create and maintain the facilities are entitled to set their own rules. It’s a given that a pilgrim to Santiago will be walking to, towards, Santiago. Unless of course they’ve been there done that and are on their way home again. That qualification doesn’t seem to apply in this instance.

I’m at a loss to understand what this issue has to do with “what makes a pilgrim?”. Your acquaintances appear to be seeking to take advantage of the accommodation network established to support pilgrims on their journey to or return from Santiago when they have neither been there nor intend to. Neither a credencial nor a backpack make a pilgrim. Pilgrim is as pilgrim does.

My absolutely personal view is that a pilgrim is a person on a pilgrimage. Where to, why and what is in their heart is between them and their gods and absolutely nothing to do with me

I think you have missed the historical essence of the Camino. Surely the spirit of the Camino de Santiago de Compostela relates to people on their pilgrimage to (and from) the Cathedral in Santiago. They can define "pilgrims" quite broadly, but "to Santiago" is quite clear.


If volunteers want to establish a network of convenient and inexpensive lodgings - for example, dedicated to couch surfing, AirBnB, birdwatchers, religious groups, student associations, etc. - they are free to do so. This group of volunteers has chosen to establish a network of albergues for pilgrims on their way to Santiago. I don't think they deserve criticism for doing this.

It is also useful to note that the volunteers for the section between Almeria and Granada are the most dedicated volunteers you will find on any Camino. That is why they are stricter - They have defined their intentions and capacity, and have every right to limit their offerings in this way.
I understand the historical essence of the Camino. I would say that most people do not know the history of this particular Camino and why doing it in either direction is quite a pilgrimage in itself as related to St James and his followers.

The volunteers been lovely, which is why I was extra surprised to find out that the 2 women weren’t allowed to stay.
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
On another tack, there are numerous people walking up and down caminos, in particular the Francés who are clearly homeless. They are never refused admission to donativos (or at least the rules say they should not be). For the hospitalero, a pilgrim should be anybody who walks through the door with a credencial. One does not judge.
I've been at an albergue on the Aragones where a homeless person was not admitted.
I've also been at an albergue on both the Aragones and the VDLP where they were.
So I guess it depends on the hospitalera/o
 
I've been at an albergue on the Aragones where a homeless person was not admitted.
I've also been at an albergue on both the Aragones and the VDLP where they were.
So I guess it depends on the hospitalera/o
And the facility rules. I have had to deny entrance more than once for various rules/reasons. I have been criticized here for it, too.
 
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I think that is a possibly a tad uncharitable We don´t know their circumstances.
There are lots of shelters for people in need. There are lots of places where nobody ask other than for their money. There are lots of people who only wants a cheap vacation. There are a lot of private facilities for touristic use. There are a lot of people stranded in what we Spaniards call "Buenismo" (goodism?). There are...
I´m a volunteer hospitalero. I usually work thirty to fourty five days yearly in donativo albergues, for the love I feel for the Camino and my country. I paid with my money for my food, for the travel expenses, taking my time to my family, to my wife, to my grandson, because the love I feel for the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.
Nor for the pilgrimage to El Rocio, or the pilgrimage to Santo Toribio, or the pilgrimage to La Meca.
The Camino de Santiago is suffering a gentrification due the abuse of political, commercial, touristic. interests etc. The Camino is turning into a cheap mass phenomenon, without spirit, without feelings, without soul.
I´m not a police officier of the Camino, but when I detect a bad behavior I try to fight it, just for the same love I feel for THAT pilgrimage, for my country and for the pilgrims.
Everyone believes themselves on the rigth of doing their will with no regrets. Do not be judgmental, they say. Thats MY convenience to use the infrastructure of the Camino TO Santiago the way I cares.
Surfers in the north, cyclists on the Plata, tourists everywere...
Why the hell must we keep accepting those adbusive behaviors when are flagants? Uncharitable you say?
Please do not make me laugh. The charity starts with ourselves, caring for what matters to be cared.
Those students, under my point of view are cheaters, abusers, false pilgrims. Period.
Buen Camino to you all, honest people.
 
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I think we should also put this in the context of the way in which the albergues that try to maintain a system of traditional hospitality feel like they are under siege from all sides. They are trying to preserve the essence of what they perceive to be the uniqueness of the Camino writ large. I think Pingüiguino expresses that sense of frustration in a very heartfelt way.

Just today there was an announcement that the traditional hospitality albergues in Astorga, el Bierzo, and Burgos are forming an organization to try to confront what they perceive as the same crisis @Pingüigrino described above. They are hoping that forming an organization will give them more power to fight the good fight.

However you walk the Camino, whatever your accommodation choices, and whether you characterize yourself as a pilgrim or not, this tradition spans the 1000 years since people began walking to Santiago, and the Camino is a more special place because of it. As the article I linked to says — they’re hoping to provide hospitality for the next 1000 years.
 
Please understand that "your Camino" is still just that, but you may not get every amenity you read about. Even Phil and I have had to compromise when he could not carry his own pack last year. We mourn that event while others celebrate the ability to ship a pack. You may not be able to walk wherever you want, do whatever you want, and stay in a pilgrim albergue and you may be questioned about your circumstances by the hospitalero. Make sure you understand the requirements and you won't be surprised by any limitations.
 
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I sort of feel that if people can afford to pay bag transport, they can afford private lodging. I know there may be exceptions, but not a lot of exceptions?
It isn't THAT expensive to book private rooms, especially if you plan ahead. I know of private lodgings in Pamplona (with shared bathrooms) for only €35. And there ARE albergues who have private rooms as well as dorms and those rooms are CHEAP in comparison to what you'd pay in the USA anywhere. Personally, when I take a group, we DO offer bag transport and we pay for private rooms. When I walk alone I carry my pack and sometimes do stay in albergues depending on the route. I don't know. It's a mixed bag. But I feel the people who run the establishments certainly have the right to make the rules.
 
I sort of feel that if people can afford to pay bag transport, they can afford private lodging. I know there may be exceptions, but not a lot of exceptions?
It isn't THAT expensive to book private rooms, especially if you plan ahead. I know of private lodgings in Pamplona (with shared bathrooms) for only €35. And there ARE albergues who have private rooms as well as dorms and those rooms are CHEAP in comparison to what you'd pay in the USA anywhere. Personally, when I take a group, we DO offer bag transport and we pay for private rooms. When I walk alone I carry my pack and sometimes do stay in albergues depending on the route. I don't know. It's a mixed bag. But I feel the people who run the establishments certainly have the right to make the rules.
No judgment here as long as people don't "ask for it all". Donativo bed or municipal bed, community dinner, AND non-pilgrim intentions, reservations, private rooms, and bag shipping.
 
I sort of feel that if people can afford to pay bag transport, they can afford private lodging. I know there may be exceptions, but not a lot of exceptions?
It isn't THAT expensive to book private rooms, especially if you plan ahead. I know of private lodgings in Pamplona (with shared bathrooms) for only €35. And there ARE albergues who have private rooms as well as dorms and those rooms are CHEAP in comparison to what you'd pay in the USA anywhere. Personally, when I take a group, we DO offer bag transport and we pay for private rooms. When I walk alone I carry my pack and sometimes do stay in albergues depending on the route. I don't know. It's a mixed bag. But I feel the people who run the establishments certainly have the right to make the rules.
And yet when people do stay in private lodging they are told that they then aren’t experiencing the “real” Camino, and that staying in albergues are an “essential” part of the pilgrimage.
 
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And yet when people do stay in private lodging they are told that they then aren’t experiencing the “real” Camino, and that staying in albergues are an “essential” part of the pilgrimage.
What people are you talking about? All kinds of untruths and opinions are said by people.

I would say that existence of the albergue system run by volunteers is a very important part of the Camino's special character. Being familiar with them and supporting them is an "essential" part of my experience, but staying in them is a privilege, not a right.
 
And yet when people do stay in private lodging they are told that they then aren’t experiencing the “real” Camino, and that staying in albergues are an “essential” part of the pilgrimage.

There is an 'element' of that I think, but hopefully not widespread.
Though I think it's coming more from the point of do 'try it' at least.

I would guess that half of the active members on here use private accommodation!
I did on my first 3 Caminos!
The thought of sleeping in communal dorms did just NOT appeal I'm afraid.

But........

On my last Camino I made a commitment to myself to 'try it'.
And I did. I stayed in about 20 Albergues I think.
If was fine......
Was it an amazing experience that I felt I had missed out on so far?
No, not really. :rolleyes:

But the most amazing Albergue I stayed in, I was the only person there!
Maybe that just says more about me..... :)

Was the experience different staying in Albergues compared to private rooms?
No not really.
I still met up with buddies for meals.
I just didn't sleep in the same room.
In some Albergues I enjoyed communal meals.
In private rooms I (mostly) got better sleep.
Though I honestly did not have a bad nights sleep in Albergues either.

What makes a Pilgrim?
What's in their Heart. ;)
 
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Just today there was an announcement that the traditional hospitality albergues in Astorga, el Bierzo, and Burgos are forming an organization to try to confront what they perceive as the same crisis @Pingüigrino described above. They are hoping that forming an organization will give them more power to fight the good fight.
And there was this, from @Dave last November:


Essentially the same thing but based on the Norte and Primitivo, so there is obvious concern among the associations about how the albergues they own or run are being used or in some cases misused.

Ironically, if the two mentioned by Laura the Explora had been walking in the opposite direction, no one would have said a word.

Albergues and their administrators certainly have the right to make their own rules, they are in fact private property in most cases. Whether having the legal right to do something means it is ethically right to do it is another matter. We all have our own sense of ethics.

I know that some people take advantage of the donativo system and of low cost albergues. So what? I can spend my two weeks as a hospitalero being a gate keeper and keeping out what I consider the undeserving, or I can spend my two weeks being as welcoming as I can to all and sundry. Even from a selfish point of view, I know which is better for my mental health.
 
I understand that an albergue might turn away someone walking the opposite direction because it is not, presumably, why the albergue is there, but I do have a hard time with the notion that the limitation is because the Camino infrastructure is only for those who have SdC as a destination. I haven't been here for long, but it seems to me that this forum is filled with people who have no intention of actually going to SdC. Indeed, I read posts from people who actively avoid the "last 100km" and instead walk sections for all the other "pilgrimage" reasons -- contemplation, spiritual renewal, etc. If the infrastructure exists only for people who intend to walk to SdC (whether in one walk or in a series of shorter walks), should they also be turned away? Alternatively, if the two med students were walking for contemplation, spiritual renewal and the like, what distinguishes them from those who are heading in the "right" direction but are not going to SdC?
No, the traditional albergues are for people with the intention of pilgrimage to Santiago or back home. I don't include the Xunta albergues in this classification although they also have restrictions. They are owned by the state of Galicia which wants to promote the Camino, but has different rules. Xunta albergues are a wonderful resource, but don't examine intent.
 
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And there was this, from @Dave last November:


Essentially the same thing but based on the Norte and Primitivo, so there is obvious concern among the associations about how the albergues they own or run are being used or in some cases misused.

Ironically, if the two mentioned by Laura the Explora had been walking in the opposite direction, no one would have said a word.

Albergues and their administrators certainly have the right to make their own rules, they are in fact private property in most cases. Whether having the legal right to do something means it is ethically right to do it is another matter. We all have our own sense of ethics.

I know that some people take advantage of the donativo system and of low cost albergues. So what? I can spend my two weeks as a hospitalero being a gate keeper and keeping out what I consider the undeserving, or I can spend my two weeks being as welcoming as I can to all and sundry. Even from a selfish point of view, I know which is better for my mental health.
I feel no quandary if there are other beds available and I am willing to call for a pilgrim if there are not beds available. My hospitalero training requires that I follow the rules of the albergue.
 
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I understand that an albergue might turn away someone walking the opposite direction because it is not, presumably, why the albergue is there, but I do have a hard time with the notion that the limitation is because the Camino infrastructure is only for those who have SdC as a destination. I haven't been here for long, but it seems to me that this forum is filled with people who have no intention of actually going to SdC. Indeed, I read posts from people who actively avoid the "last 100km" and instead walk sections for all the other "pilgrimage" reasons -- contemplation, spiritual renewal, etc. If the infrastructure exists only for people who intend to walk to SdC (whether in one walk or in a series of shorter walks), should they also be turned away? Alternatively, if the two med students were walking for contemplation, spiritual renewal and the like, what distinguishes them from those who are heading in the "right" direction but are not going to SdC?
It is the decision of the albergue and the amigos. They are volunteers and it is up to them to decide for which purpose they spend their time and energy.
 
Albergues and their administrators certainly have the right to make their own rules, they are in fact private property in most cases. Whether having the legal right to do something means it is ethically right to do it is another matter. We all have our own sense of ethics.

I know that some people take advantage of the donativo system and of low cost albergues. So what? I can spend my two weeks as a hospitalero being a gate keeper and keeping out what I consider the undeserving, or I can spend my two weeks being as welcoming as I can to all and sundry. Even from a selfish point of view, I know which is better for my mental health.

Thank you for bringing up the concept of personal sense of ethics.
Together with gut feeling and common sense they make a good combination IMO.
 
Last year, after walking a short camino - the Baztan - from Bayonne to Pamplona, we decided to walk 'backwards' to France, via various stages of the Aragones / Arles Way, a path we enjoy very much. We stayed in one donativo albergue in Spain and two gites in France - all were exclusively for pilgrims. In each case, we made contact in advance, explained what we were doing, and asked the hospitaleros if it would be ok to stay. We were warmly welcomed at all three - but we were also prepared with a Plan B in the event that it wasn't possible within their guidelines. Had it been later 'in the season', with more 'pilgrims' walking, perhaps the volunteers would have made a different decision (I can't say) - but in the circumstances, we decided to ask in advance, not to assume, and to have a back up plan.
 
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The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
My husband and I are on our 7th Camino right now, the sparsely traveled Camino Mozarabe in SE Spain. Groups of volunteers run the different sections of the Camino and give you codes and things like that to get into the albergues since there are rarely Hospitaleros. The volunteers been helpful and welcoming to us.

We met 2 young women along they way on their break from medical school walking it backwards because it worked a lot better for them logistically to go from Cordoba to Almeria instead of the other way around. One of them has down the Norte. They have their pilgrim passports, are carrying their things, and have gotten stamps from every section up to the section after Granada.

From Cordoba to Granada, they were fine. Then once they got past Granada, a new group of volunteers took over and told them they were not allowed to stay in the albergues because they are not real pilgrims and just sightseeing tourists since they aren’t walking toward Santiago since a pilgrimage is to a sacred place.

So what makes a pilgrim? Many people have opinions on this: “You’re not a real pilgrim if….” Insert what you want: don’t carry your bag. Don’t sleep in albergues. Skip sections. Have tour groups plan their Camino. Etc. You name it, and people have an opinion on it. But they don’t get turned away from albergues.

But I have never heard of people being denied a bed (keep in mind, this is a lonely, hard Camino through the desert) because they are walking east instead of west. I understand it’s their facilities, and I suppose they can do what they want (?) but this is absolutely against the spirit of the Camino in my opinion.

I don’t know what to do about this, but I feel like this group of volunteers is a bit holier than though in their interpretation of what makes a pilgrim.

I’m quite upset about these women being treated this way. Thoughts?
Well, it is a hard question to answer, because I think there is no objective answer. It depends on the context. For exemple, when it comes to lodging, I kinda understand the volunteers position (as long as they where respectful when they talked to the women): when someone are doing turism, there is a market price for that. Turism is buisness, people who run hotels seek for profit and turists should pay; If you want to travel but don't have much money, thera are options like youth-albergues, B&B, lowcost hotels, camping. Pilgrim-albergues don't seek for profit; it envolves peoples that are there for a comum cause: religious, but not only, and cultural. It is because of that cause that they volunteer, and it is possible for the price to rise down, or even be for donativos. The idea is to aloud more people to achive the goal of pilgrimage doing; if you have enough money, you can pay more; if I don't, you pay less, or even not at all. If pilgrim-albergues start to accept all kind of travellers, they wont be able to survive; it is going to be a bigger demand, and no deliver. It is going to be an unfair competence between pilgrim-albergues (ran by volunteers) and hotels (ran by business people). On the other hand, outside of this specific context (lodging), I don't see the concept of "pilgrim" as something strict. There is no right or wrong. I think there is one thing tough, that caracterize pilgrims: the spirit of the travel is not about (only) the final destination; a pilgrim is not exactly a paying consumer who plays a role in a business; he understand that he gets what it is possible, kind of like a guest in someones house. Pilgrims can plan ahead or not, but even if they plan, they must be open to th idea of unexpected changing of plans. Pilgrims can walk without his backpacks (so far I always caryed mine), but no for a matter of confort; if they have some health issued, is better that they have their backpack delivered than they dont do the pilgrimage at all; but if a pilgrim is healthy enough, they should probably want to cary his load, because that's part of the experience and because it is not about confort and leisure. Finally, I think pilgrims can perfectly not being moved for religious purposes; there can be agnostics ou atheist pilgrims; but there must be some kind of goal other than the "sight seeing". Well, that's want I thing at this moment; but I'm sure that after reading others answering I will have another perpective. Like I said, it is not a simple question.
 
I've been at an albergue on the Aragones where a homeless person was not admitted.
I've also been at an albergue on both the Aragones and the VDLP where they were.
So I guess it depends on the hospitalera/o
It also depends on whether or not they have a credencial. Most hospitaler@s would allow them to use the facilities at least.
 
Well, it is a hard question to answer, because I think there is no objective answer. It depends on the context. For exemple, when it comes to lodging, I kinda understand the volunteers position (as long as they where respectful when they talked to the women): when someone are doing turism, there is a market price for that. Turism is buisness, people who run hotels seek for profit and turists should pay; If you want to travel but don't have much money, thera are options like youth-albergues, B&B, lowcost hotels, camping. Pilgrim-albergues don't seek for profit; it envolves peoples that are there for a comum cause: religious, but not only, and cultural. It is because of that cause that they volunteer, and it is possible for the price to rise down, or even be for donativos. The idea is to aloud more people to achive the goal of pilgrimage doing; if you have enough money, you can pay more; if I don't, you pay less, or even not at all. If pilgrim-albergues start to accept all kind of travellers, they wont be able to survive; it is going to be a bigger demand, and no deliver. It is going to be an unfair competence between pilgrim-albergues (ran by volunteers) and hotels (ran by business people). On the other hand, outside of this specific context (lodging), I don't see the concept of "pilgrim" as something strict. There is no right or wrong. I think there is one thing tough, that caracterize pilgrims: the spirit of the travel is not about (only) the final destination; a pilgrim is not exactly a paying consumer who plays a role in a business; he understand that he gets what it is possible, kind of like a guest in someones house. Pilgrims can plan ahead or not, but even if they plan, they must be open to th idea of unexpected changing of plans. Pilgrims can walk without his backpacks (so far I always caryed mine), but no for a matter of confort; if they have some health issued, is better that they have their backpack delivered than they dont do the pilgrimage at all; but if a pilgrim is healthy enough, they should probably want to cary his load, because that's part of the experience and because it is not about confort and leisure. Finally, I think pilgrims can perfectly not being moved for religious purposes; there can be agnostics ou atheist pilgrims; but there must be some kind of goal other than the "sight seeing". Well, that's want I thing at this moment; but I'm sure that after reading others answering I will have another perpective. Like I said, it is not a simple question.
Part of the issue is that association was quite rude about it, sending rather aggressive text (which we read) rather then having a conversation with them. They also claimed it was in their guide that they do not accept pilgrims who go backwards, but it’s not. Just frustrating.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
It is easy to say that if there was space there was no harm but you don't know what the instructions were and the volunteers' previous experience. There have been posts on the forum bemoaning use of albergues on the Norte as cheap beach accommodation.

On the other hand I believe that a previous occasion when people were turned away from the inn which might have inspired a more generous attitude.
Unlike the Norte, one would not walk through these towns of stray dogs and abandoned buildings just for fun 🙃🙃 there are beautiful parts of course but sometimes it’s quite uncomfortable and sketchy
 
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most people do not know the history of this particular Camino and why doing it in either direction is quite a pilgrimage in itself as related to St James and his followers.
I must agree to being apparently one of these "most people". I had thought that this Camino was the one taken by many Christians in al-Andalus (Mozarabes) to Santiago de Compostela. I wasn't aware of a history related to St. James and his followers involving a walk towards Almería, or why such a walk would be a pilgrimage. I am certainly open to learning however!

It is perhaps true that many people undertaking a Camino are unaware that it is a pilgrimage to the relics of St. James. I expect few people translate and understand the text of the credencial and the conditions of its use. And certainly different people can understand it differently. But among the people who are aware of this unique nature of the Camino, one would have to count the people operating albergues, especially municipal, parochial, association and/or donativo albergues.

There is no question as to what purpose these albergues were opened for - to assist people on their journey to get to Santiago. In this context, the answer is simple. As Pingüiguino eloquently expresses, these two are cheaters, taking advantage of people's volunteer efforts for a purpose other than that for which it was intended.

But I see the merit in what some have written above that it is not as simple as that any more. The concept of a Camino has evolved since the pilgrimages to Santiago of the Middle Ages. No one then would have considered "doing it in stages". If you set off on pilgrimage to Santiago, you didn't stop part way, head home, and go back the next year to continue. That would have made no sense. There would be nothing to gain by it. And if one did travel, say, to Burgos one year and then the next year travel back to Burgos and from there to Santiago, only the latter would be considered a pilgrimage. The first would be considered a trip to Burgos. But now no one blinks at people walking their Caminis in stages.

Similarly, I know a number of people who have walked from SJPP to Santiago one year and in a future year walked from Le Puy to SJPP, with no intent to go any further. They are like people who walk their Camino in stages, but walk the stages out of order, walking the early stages after the later ones. One might say that someone walking from Le Puy to SJPP, with no intention of going further is at least walking toward Santiago. But if one has no intention of reaching Santiago, what difference really does the direction make. Either direction, you aren't walking to Santiago.

The people who walk with no intention of ending up in Santiago are showing one of the ways that the Camino is different from most other pilgrimages. People see the value in the journey, as much as or more than the destination. It is about the walk, itself. And that walk, even apart from its destination, is seen as differentfrom other types of journeys. Walking from Le Puy to SJPP as a Camino is different from other types of tourism, from other types of hikes (even when it is walked on the same GR trail used by hikers who don't consider themselves on a Camino. And people walking like this consider themselves pilgrims even when there is no intent to ever continue on to the sacred destination - the route itself is considered sacred enough to create a pilgrimage. In this context, the two young women are not cheaters at all but pilgrims, walking a sacred route with pilgrim intentions. It matters not their destination.

I think for me, it is up to albergues to consider which types of pilgrims they want to support, especially albergues run by volunteers. Some may, as this one did, say that they are there to support pilgrims on their journey to Santiago de Compostela. They aren't volunteering their efforts to serve any others. That is a fair choice. Others may take a broader view and say they are their to support anyone walking these routes on a spiritual journey. People who walk Caminos not ending in Santiago are looking for this type of albergue. But they can't expect all albergues to be this type of albergue. That isn't a fair expectation.

But to say that everyone walking a Camino route without planning to end up in Santiago is a secular tourist isn't fair, either.

All that said, my own opinion for my own Caminos is that something is missing from any Camino without Santiago as a destination. Because, for me and my Caminos, while it may be about the journey as much as the destination, the destination is part of it, too.
 
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@Laura the Explora and everybody else: The association Camino Mozarabe de Santiago de Almeria a Granada published an Information Notice in their Facebook group two days ago. It explains their policy. In it, they define what a peregrino is. They have of course every right in the world to define what "pilgrim" means to them and who they welcome as such.

The information is in Spanish. It says that peregrinos are those who "pilgrimage" to Santiago de Compostela; no matter where they start as long as it is in the correct direction; no matter if it is done in stages at different times of the year or over several years or in one go as long as it is in the direction of the yellow arrows. Those who are walking in the opposite direction cannot stay in the albergues that the association manages along the Camino de Santiago section between Almeria and Granada, unless they had previously arrived in Santiago and are returning from Santiago. If they had started for example in Merida and are going to Almeria, they do not qualify.

So this is clear now and there is no need to write to them as I had suggested earlier.

Needless to say, from what you describe, the association or individuals or municipal authorities who manage albergues between Granada and Merida (?) appear to have a different policy and definition of peregrinos. Which is also their right.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
What people are you talking about? All kinds of untruths and opinions are said by people.

I would say that existence of the albergue system run by volunteers is a very important part of the Camino's special character. Being familiar with them and supporting them is an "essential" part of my experience, but staying in them is a privilege, not a right.
I did not say it was a "right" (although I don't recall anyone telling me that you need to fill out a financial hardship form before checking in either).

On both of my Caminos, I've used private accomodations and intend to mostly do so on my next. But to hear it from this and other Camino fora, I *have* missed out -- on communal meals, on the warmth of a hospitalero's welcome, on the sharing of stories and backgrounds over an evening bottle (bottles) of wine. There is a mythos around staying in albergues as part of one's journey. Now, if it really doesn't matter to the journey at all, I guess I will find out in August as I do plan on spending a night or two in an albergue on my next walk.
 
The author may or may not like or agree, but the Albergue, as everyone understands, has the right to make their own rules. With rules in place, all pilgrims/non-pilgrims/tourists, are obligated to honour and follow those rules. It may seem harsh, but we must all understand that those rules side with those on pilgrimage, and that is why they are what they are and the sole purpose of the Albergues is being protected on the Pilgrim’s behalf.
 
And yet when people do stay in private lodging they are told that they then aren’t experiencing the “real” Camino, and that staying in albergues are an “essential” part of the pilgrimage.
:🤷: I think social media has weirdly trained people to CARE about other people's opinions.
Who cares what other people say!

These days everyone is experiencing their own version if the Camino. Some consider themselves pilgrims, some just want to walk and see Spain.

I've had an 20-something year old male tsk-tsk at me, and tell me if I were a real pilgrim I'd be carrying my backpack. He didn't know me or anything about me. I told him after 20 Caminos and 71 years, I'd earned the right to book backpack transport and private lodgings - then asked him how many times HE had walked (not that it mattered - I was just trying to make a point.) He didn't respond because there wasn't much he could say.

I think people need to mind their own business and also to ignore other people's opinions - the "rules" regarding the Camino that count to me are the ones made by the Church and the Camino Associations. Those are the ones I'll follow. When the Pilgrim Office starts denying a Compostela for people who stay in private lodgings, then it becomes an issue. Not until then.
 
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:🤷: I think social media has weirdly trained people to CARE about other people's opinions.
Who cares what other people say!
Lots of people do care though. Given the vast numbers walking Caminos now and posting online about them then the chances of getting a unanimous opinion on anything is vanishingly remote. Some people I will agree with. Many I will disagree with. And a small number will have opinions which I think are frankly bizarre. I don't think that I would ever walk a Camino again if I waited for universal approval and a pat on the back from everyone who ever posts online. I do value the opinions of my friends and family. But in practice I tend to disregard online posts from people whose interpretation of pilgrimage is clearly very different from my own. If someone is spitting on my understanding of pilgrimage with their choices why should I value their good opinion of my own actions?
 
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I did not say it was a "right" (although I don't recall anyone telling me that you need to fill out a financial hardship form before checking in either).
Several topics are being conflated, which is confusing.

My comment about "rights" addressed the question of whether albergues can or should be able to reject someone based on criteria set by the albergue - e.g. walking direction. That was the topic of the OP.

You now mention finances, which could be another criteria, but apparently isn't, maybe because they want generous donations from well-off pilgrims. (We have threads on that.)

A completely separate discussion could be held about whether one's personal satisfaction with the experience is achieved if one doesn't stay in albergues. While the albergue rules are set by the albergue owners, the pilgrim/walker's satisfaction is controlled by the pilgrim/walker.
 
My husband and I are on our 7th Camino right now, the sparsely traveled Camino Mozarabe in SE Spain. Groups of volunteers run the different sections of the Camino and give you codes and things like that to get into the albergues since there are rarely Hospitaleros. The volunteers been helpful and welcoming to us.

We met 2 young women along they way on their break from medical school walking it backwards because it worked a lot better for them logistically to go from Cordoba to Almeria instead of the other way around. One of them has down the Norte. They have their pilgrim passports, are carrying their things, and have gotten stamps from every section up to the section after Granada.

From Cordoba to Granada, they were fine. Then once they got past Granada, a new group of volunteers took over and told them they were not allowed to stay in the albergues because they are not real pilgrims and just sightseeing tourists since they aren’t walking toward Santiago since a pilgrimage is to a sacred place.

So what makes a pilgrim? Many people have opinions on this: “You’re not a real pilgrim if….” Insert what you want: don’t carry your bag. Don’t sleep in albergues. Skip sections. Have tour groups plan their Camino. Etc. You name it, and people have an opinion on it. But they don’t get turned away from albergues.

But I have never heard of people being denied a bed (keep in mind, this is a lonely, hard Camino through the desert) because they are walking east instead of west. I understand it’s their facilities, and I suppose they can do what they want (?) but this is absolutely against the spirit of the Camino in my opinion.

I don’t know what to do about this, but I feel like this group of volunteers is a bit holier than though in their interpretation of what makes a pilgrim.

I’m quite upset about these women being treated this way. Thoughts?
While I tend to sympathise with your feelings about backwards walking pilgrims not finding beds, I think the pilgrims might have simply (and cleverly) said that they are making a pilgrimage from Cordoba to the Cathedral at Almiera. I am unaware of any "official" rule that limits the use of an albergue to only pilgrims destined solely for Santiago.

Spain is full of hundreds of religious and cultural sights, any of which would qualify as a likely pilgrimage destination.

But, to answer your question directly, IMHO, a pilgrim is a person who walks / rides a bike from a point of origin to a point of destination with a purpose in mind. In our context, it always helps if the purpose is either religious (walking to venerate the relics at any church or cathedral for example), or spiritual (similar to religious but without the named destination). People might add to this definition. But, I tried to pare it to it's essence.

The various authorities controlling access to the destination, shrine, relics, etc. are free to promulgate rules and regulations for receiving whatever certificate or documentation they might offer.

I have never heard of albergues, especially in the off season, being denied to anyone.

I hope this helps.

Tom
 
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Several topics are being conflated, which is confusing.
Very true. Maybe the heading itself, rather than ‘what makes a pilgrim?’ could be changed to ‘Rules for admission to Albergues may vary’ (or something snappier) in line with the story in the original post? Maybe with Albergues tag.

Not as attention grabbing, but perhaps brings attention to a practical issue and gives useful information - especially for future readers. Just an idea. 😎
 
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There is a danger is communicating and listening only to people who think like ourselves. We can become increasingly polarized and things like the Camino which used to bring us together drives us apart. If you allow it, the Camino brings you into contact with people you might never have known or done things with at home. It can bridge age, culture, socio-economic status if we let it or it can drive us deeper into a singular mindset.

We all have opinions and we all judge others whether we want to believe or admit it. The ability to share those opinions is a protected right in my country and in other countries it is not. You might be imprisoned or even killed for saying something unpopular against the wrong person or thing under other governments.

There are organizations who make their Camino opinions (popular or not) quite clear. The hospitaleros they employ or accept as volunteers are the face that has to disappoint some and delight others. If you don't enforce the "rules" you won't be invited back or maybe you won't choose to volunteer for an organizaiton whose rules you can't live with. The rules are not always clear until you arrive and get a handoff from the next person if you have not been there before (at least in our case).

In any case, those who have participated in this thread now know the rules for this Amigos group and their albergues and whether we agree or not, it has provoked a robust discussion.
 
They also claimed it was in their guide that they do not accept pilgrims who go backwards, but it’s not.
It’s one thing to disagree with a policy, but I think that making statements about the organization’s honesty is a little different. Here is the language that appears on page 5 of the Association guide. And just so there is no doubt, I should say that I took it out of the association’s January edition of the guide.

Solo podrán acceder al albergue los peregrinos del camino De Santiago, acreditados de credencial sellado de la etapa anterior y que peregrinen hacia Santiago de Compostela, es decir, en el sentido ascendiente de Santiago de Compostela y no hacia atrás.

Rough Translation:
only Pilgrims on the camino de santiago can use the albergues. They must have a credential stamped from the preceding stage, and they must be walking towards Santiago de Compostela and not in the opposite direction.
 
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If they could show they were walking backwards from Santiago to their home, it might have made a difference, but I am not certain.
That is why, when returning towards France, I always have my Compostela glued into my Credencial. Usually it makes no difference, but on occasion it has.
 
Very true. Maybe the heading itself, rather than ‘what makes a pilgrim?’ could be changed to ‘Rules for admission to Albergues may vary’ (or something snappier) in line with the story in the original post? Maybe with Albergues tag.

Not as attention grabbing, but perhaps brings attention to a practical issue and gives useful information - especially for future readers. Just an idea. 😎
I think that doing so might obscure some aspects of the first post that I suspect are important to OP (although I am, of course, open to correction on this - I don't read minds).

I got the impression that what bothered Laura wasn't just that these people were refused entrance, but the way and reasons for doing so. A lot of people have pointed out that albergue owners and hospitaleros have the right to set the rules they wish. I, of course, agree with this, generally (if an albergue were to refuse entrance on the basis of race, sexual orientation, etc. I must admit it would bother me). I don't think Laura is disputing the right of albergues to set and enforce rules. I get the impression that what really concerned her was the assertion that these people were "not real pilgrims and just sightseeing tourists" [bolding hers]. That, I believe is what she opened this thread to discuss. To change the title would be to obscure what I think she sees as the point of the thread.
 
I get the impression that what really concerned her was the assertion that these people were "not real pilgrims and just sightseeing tourists" [bolding hers]. That, I believe is what she opened this thread to discuss. To change the title would be to obscure what I think she sees as the point of the thread.
Fair enough. The discussion seemed to focus on albergue rules. And perhaps I'm just weary of the 'what (who) is a pilgrim discussion'. So that's for me to tune out in future when it comes up. Appreciate the job of you and other moderators. 🙏
 
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I did Porto - Santiago (coastal + senda litoral + variante espiritual) - Santiago - Finisterre - Muxia - Santiago and then back to Porto on foot (same way I came) in 2022. I didn't have a single problem with 'walking back' regarding the albergue owners/employees!
 
While I tend to sympathise with your feelings about backwards walking pilgrims not finding beds, I think the pilgrims might have simply (and cleverly) said that they are making a pilgrimage from Cordoba to the Cathedral at Almiera
Come on Tom, are you really suggesting that people should lie in order to stay in an albergue?

I am unaware of any "official" rule that limits the use of an albergue to only pilgrims destined solely for Santiago.

Not sure what you mean by official, but the amigos’ guide makes their policy/rule crystal clear.
 
I did Porto - Santiago (coastal + senda litoral + variante espiritual) - Santiago
On those routes, it's not rare for a pilgrim to be walking to Fátima.

Come to think of it, I did come across one hospitalera in Zamora when I was walking to Compostela via Fátima, who told me that she wouldn't normally admit me but decided to do so as an "exception", which was quite bizarre.

I was on my Way to Santiago, but she seemed to think that only those following the VDLP in one particular direction are "proper pilgrims" or something ...

I think people can get overly fixed in their ideas, with their notions of "official routes" and whatnot, except that the Camino actually goes all over the place. Including walking towards Santiago north to south on the VDLP as I did once in June of 2022.
 
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I am unaware of any "official" rule that limits the use of an albergue to only pilgrims destined solely for Santiago.
That is because there are no official rules. Pilgrim albergues are owned and/or run by a number of different bodies and so long as they comply with Spanish law they can and do make their own rules and sometimes even the hospitaler@ will introduce a rule of their own. That is how it is.
 
According to the Pilgrim office in Santiago, “You can do the Way in stages, provided they are in chronological and geographical order.”

If you are carrying a credential for the Camino De Santiago, you have filled in your starting point, but the destination, Santiago is pre-filled in for you.

It seems to me to be totally acceptable that an albergue set up to serve pilgrims heading to Santiago would turn away people who are clearly headed in the wrong direction.

The two girls may eventually reach Santiago, but wandering around Spain
because it worked a lot better for them logistically to go from Cordoba to Almeria instead of the other way around

Seems to me to be a good description of tourism.
 
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I understand the different views and opinions (and wishes towards the two girls). I too don't have the answer to this problem.

Though sometimes going against the flow is the only way to get to the source.
 
It’s one thing to disagree with a policy, but I think that making statements about the organization’s honesty is a little different. Here is the language that appears on page 5 of the Association guide. And just so there is no doubt, I should say that I took it out of the association’s January edition of the guide.

Solo podrán acceder al albergue los peregrinos del camino De Santiago, acreditados de credencial sellado de la etapa anterior y que peregrinen hacia Santiago de Compostela, es decir, en el sentido ascendiente de Santiago de Compostela y no hacia atrás.

Rough Translation:
only Pilgrims on the camino de santiago can use the albergues. They must have a credential stamped from the preceding stage, and they must be walking towards Santiago de Compostela and not in the opposite direction.
They kept referring to page 6 when talking with the women. There is nothing on the English page (page 6) about this. That sentence is not there. Should pilgrims be responsible for checking the translation of a page that looks exactly the same in English (page 6) as in Spanish (page 5)?
 
Without going into the dictionary definition of pilgrim, i would say they're not doing the Camino de Santiago that involves a walking/cycling/horseback to Santiago de Compostela. What they are doing may be meaningful or spiritual to them but the association refusing them boarding is correct to do so.

What they're doing is a multi-week trek that doesn't begin or end in Santiago but they want cheap accommodation... In fact the stage you're referring to has a donation system and often use of a washing machine and food.

What's to stop anyone digging out an old credential and using it to stay in a prime location in Spain for perhaps €10 or a donation? So rules, written or otherwise, like only staying 1 night and doing consecutive stages are fair.
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
They kept referring to page 6 when talking with the women. There is nothing on the English page (page 6) about this. That sentence is not there. Should pilgrims be responsible for checking the translation of a page that looks exactly the same in English (page 6) as in Spanish (page 5)?

The guidebook is mainly written in Spanish.

I checked it just now and notice that the stages are outlined clearly in order.

Even outside this section many albergues check the previous stage.

And come to think, I don't think there are many municipal albergues between Granada and Córdoba, rather inexpensive hostals that often give a special rate to pilgrims. I stand to be corrected on that.
 
Come on Tom, are you really suggesting that people should lie in order to stay in an albergue?



Not sure what you mean by official, but the amigos’ guide makes their policy/rule crystal clear.
1. I was suggesting that an alternative truth be told. People make valid pilgrimages to sites other than the Cathedral at Santiago every day. Not every site worthy of pilgrimage is located at Santiago. Also, do you mean that NO pilgrim has ever told a white lie to score a bed in an albergue? I am certain that worse prevarications have been used.

2. Which 'amigos' guide do you refer to. Unless it was issued by FICS - the sort of overall governing body for the Caminos in Spain, it is likely not "official."

Finally, let us not allow this to become a bigger issue than it is.

Thanks,

Tom
 
They kept referring to page 6 when talking with the women. There is nothing on the English page (page 6) about this. That sentence is not there. Should pilgrims be responsible for checking the translation of a page that looks exactly the same in English (page 6) as in Spanish (page 5)?
Ok, let's see since some of us obviously don't even know what guidebook we are talking about: there is a discrepancy between p. 5 and p. 6.

Those who look only at p. 6 which is in English will not know about the requirement to walk towards Santiago while those who look only at p. 5 which is in Spanish will know. And if you speak only Spanish you will not know what the English-only speaker reads and vice versa.

So apparently page 6 did not get updated when page 5 got updated? And this ought to be corrected now?

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Ok, let's see since some of us obviously don't even know what guidebook we are talking about: there is a discrepancy between p. 5 and p. 6.

Those who look only at p. 6 which is in English will not know about the requirement to walk towards Santiago while those who look only at p. 5 which is in Spanish will know. And if you speak only Spanish you will not know what the English-only speaker reads and vice versa.

So apparently page 6 did not get updated when page 5 got updated? And this ought to be corrected now?

View attachment 165225
I'm quite unsure where people might be walking to southwards from those places unless into the Mediterranean Sea ?

This is quite obviously a fringe outlier situation, though I would suppose at least that the very rare pilgrim in Almería taking the coastal variant Way to Rome instead of the more traditional route via Córdoba would not be turned out. Nor one walking westward towards Faro and thence into the Portuguese Ways.

It seems to be that in those particular locations, some more rigorous rules are needed, including because of how touristy that whole area seems to be.
 
I have received several comments from Mercedes, president of the Association, which I have translated:

From Córdoba to Granada, they had no problem because there is not one albergue that is dedicated to pilgrims. They are touristic albergues, where tourists and pilgrims can stay, and they are charged a set amount. The only exception would be in Granada, in the monastery of San Bernardo, which is donativo, but they accept anyone and everyone. Their religious belief in Christian Hospitality leads them to accept pilgrims, tourists, beggars, and homeless — anyone who knocks at their door.

The night that the two women arrived in La Peza, I myself was the one in charge. I gave the code of access and they slept there. Teresa, the hospitalera, gave them dinner and breakfast. We did not charge them anything but asked for a donativo. We did not check to see if they left anything. I told them that we were doing them a favor, letting them sleep there that night because it was late, it was cold, and it was too late for them to look for something else. But that as of that moment, they were on notice of the policy and would have to look for alternative accommodations.


A fuller explanation will be forthcoming, but I wanted to post these specific comments with the hopes of putting to rest some of the speculation.
 
Those who look only at p. 6 which is in English will not know about the requirement to walk towards Santiago while those who look only at p. 5 which is in Spanish will know. And if you speak only Spanish you will not know what the English-only speaker reads and vice versa.
Yes, this has been pointed out to Mercedes already. There are other places in which the two guides are different, and she says they just do the best they can when they have someone who can help with a translation. As an aside, having translated Ender’s Olvidado and Salvador guides, I know it is inevitable that the native language guide will be more up to date. Those of us who do the translations are not always able to keep things completely current. Mercedes’ association is a Spanish speaking one and they do not have a translator in their group. They get occasional offers of help - and thanks to this kerfuffle, she has received an offer to update the translation,

But in any case, the two women walking “backwards” were Spanish and had full access to the policy.
 
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Yes, this has been pointed out to Mercedes already. There are other places in which the two guides are different, and she says they just do the best they can when they have someone who can help with a translation. As an aside, having translated Ender’s Olvidado and Salvador guides, I know it is inevitable that the native language guide will be more up to date. Those of us who do the translations are not always able to keep things completely current. Mercedes’ association is a Spanish speaking one and they do not have a translator in their group. They get occasional offers of help - and thanks to this kerfuffle, she has received an offer to update the translation,

But in any case, the two women walking “backwards” were Spanish and had full access to the policy.
Thank you for making the effort to hear both sides.
 
Surfers in the north, cyclists on the Plata, tourists everywere...
Thank you for volunteering to assist pilgrims. Your care and thoughtfulness to preserve the Camino de Santiago is admirable. I must ask, why do you write pejoratively about “cyclists on the Plata”?

Have you considered that some pilgrims are no longer capable of walking long distances for major health reasons? These pilgrims may be disabled, have autoimmune disease(s), chronic anemia, chronic pain, chronic fatigue, heart conditions, severe arthritis, limited joint functionality, compromised organs, etc. Rather than their maladies dissuading these individuals from journeying as pilgrims to Santiago, they may use the physical exertion that they’re still able to, e.g., cycling, no matter how difficult or painful.
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
I realise this is a diversion, but very recently I became aware of a translator called Say Hi. It translates what you say into a range of languages. I just tested it and it is hilarious, as it does not know what to do with my totally Scottish accent!
The best free translate tool so far in my experience, is deepl. Apologies for the quasi subliminal interjection tothe thread... 😁
 
I must ask, why do you write pejoratively about “cyclists on the Plata”?

Have you considered that some pilgrims are no longer capable of walking long distances for major health reasons? These pilgrims may be disabled, have autoimmune disease(s), chronic anemia, chronic pain, chronic fatigue, heart conditions, severe arthritis, limited joint functionality, compromised organs, etc. Rather than their maladies dissuading these individuals from journeying as pilgrims to Santiago, they may use the physical exertion that they’re still able to, e.g., cycling, no matter how difficult or painful.
I suspect, (rightly or wrongly) @Pingüigrino is referring to the groups of competitive cyclists who regularly use this route, and who will boast of making it from Sevilla to Santiago in as little as seven or eight days. It's not necessary to use a pilgrim/non pilgrim debate to set them apart from traditional pilgrims and they are clearly not cycling because ailing health forces them to.
 
Thank you for volunteering to assist pilgrims. Your care and thoughtfulness to preserve the Camino de Santiago is admirable. I must ask, why do you write pejoratively about “cyclists on the Plata”?

Have you considered that some pilgrims are no longer capable of walking long distances for major health reasons? These pilgrims may be disabled, have autoimmune disease(s), chronic anemia, chronic pain, chronic fatigue, heart conditions, severe arthritis, limited joint functionality, compromised organs, etc. Rather than their maladies dissuading these individuals from journeying as pilgrims to Santiago, they may use the physical exertion that they’re still able to, e.g., cycling, no matter how difficult or painful.
I'd answered, but my post have been deleted due " my agresive, vulgar and inapropiate lenguage".
Saying in a more politically correct way:
Like Flog suspect in his threat, I´m referring to those cyclits, who are using the infrastructure of the Camino for their competitive sense of sport. Many of them not even go to Santiago.
I even can understand and support the sick or elder people who are using a electric byke with great effort being that the only way they can do it,
No, biking pilgrims are no cheaters. Cheaters are those who cheats. Doesn't matter if they are walking o riding a horse, or a bike.
 
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I realise this is a diversion, but very recently I became aware of a translator called Say Hi. It translates what you say into a range of languages. I just tested it and it is hilarious, as it does not know what to do with my totally Scottish accent!
The best free translate tool so far in my experience, is deepl. Apologies for the quasi subliminal interjection tothe thread... 😁
That app's not a fan of my accent either..🙄😄
 
The night that the two women arrived in La Peza, I myself was the one in charge. I gave the code of access and they slept there. Teresa, the hospitalera, gave them dinner and breakfast. We did not charge them anything but asked for a donativo. We did not check to see if they left anything. I told them that we were doing them a favor, letting them sleep there that night because it was late, it was cold, and it was too late for them to look for something else. But that as of that moment, they were on notice of the policy and would have to look for alternative accommodations.
Thanks for providing some balance. Rarely do we get a chance to hear another of side of the story when such incidents are reported.
 
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We thought it only fair that the Almería Association be given the opportunitiy to respond to the original post and the criticism directed at them for being “holier than thou in their interpretation of what constitutes a pilgrim.” Here is my translation of the response from Mercedes, president of the organization.

Our association is composed of volunteers, and we dedicate our time, efforts, and money to helping pilgrims and to helping the Camino de Santiago. With our own money as well as an occasional grant from American Pilgrims, we have created 9 albergues. We have paid for all of the furniture, gas heaters, and washing machines. We provide blankets, toiletries, washing soap, toilet paper, and food. We charge nothing, just the donativo that the pilgrim wishes to leave. There is no one who asks for it or demands it, because each albergue is the pilgrims’ home.

But all of this has only one purpose — to help those who walk the Camino de Santiago. And walking the Camino de Santiago means that you start where you want, with whatever motivations you may have. Whether they are religious or not, by following the yellow arrows, which will some day bring you to the tomb of the Apostle, you are on a pilgrimage. It doesn’t matter if it takes you years to get there or if you walk the entire way in one journey, it doesn’t matter if you have to stop at some point, but your motivation is always to one day arrive in Santiago de Compostela. And if you turn around and come home, as they did in the Middle Ages, the doors of our albergues will be open to you.

But if you begin the camino in Córdoba and you go to Granada, you are not on a pilgrimage, you are not walking the Camino, you are just walking. You are on the camino, of course, but you are enjoying an inexpensive touristic method to get to know other parts of Spain and you are taking advantage of the Camino infrastructure that other pilgrims and our volunteer association have established to promote and conserve the spirit of the camino. Yes, we are a Jacobean association, and the documents that have created our organization define that as our only purpose. We are here to conserve and maintain the Camino as has been done since the Middle Ages, taking in pilgrims and promoting pilgrimage.

When people tell us they want to walk the camino “backwards” without having gone first to Santiago, we will not let them sleep in our albergues. Whether they have started walking in Córdoba, Mérida or Salamanca, it doesn’t matter because this is not doing the camino, it is walking on the camino. We respect and love the Camino so much that we will not participate in this misinterpretation. If you want to do the camino, do it, but do it the way it is to be done in order to stay in our albergues. Neither our volunteers nor our albergues are there for a vacation or tour of Andalucía. This disrespects the camino and makes a mockery of the credencial. The credencial explicitly says that its bearer is on the camino to Santiago, but it seems to have become just one more souvenir whose purpose people ignore. Everyone can do the camino as they wish, but this Association respects the values that were already described inthe Codex Calixtino. We have regulations that admit only pilgrims, with the credencial stamped from the previous stage, which is to say in the direction of Santiago.

If anyone is bothered by that, we are very sorry, but it is our decision. We do not dedicate our time to the camino to facilitate others’ vacations, for that there are other options. And it doesn’t matter if it’s two young women or the King and Queen of Spain, we are there only for pilgrims. And what if those who come to us and are walking in the “proper direction” are also tourists and not pilgrims? That is possible, it is of course possible that people are deceiving us by saying they are pilgrims. But that’s for them and their conscience, we are not here to judge. But if they stay in our albergues they stay with a credencial stamped from the previous stage and are going in the direction of Santiago. If this upsets people, those people should put themselves in our place - how much of their work, money, and time are they willing to offer in exchange for nothing? Those people who have complained on the forum, let’s see if they find the same hospitality after they reach Granada.

Finally, let me say that we ask only for respect. Respect for something as magnificent as the Camino de Santiago, which is becoming cheapened and profaned by incidents like these, and which make a mockery out of the camino.
 
EDITED TO REMOVE INACCURATE INFORMATION.

Part of the issue is that association was quite rude about it, sending rather aggressive text (which we read) rather then having a conversation with them.

I wasn’t there and have no first hand knowledge, but I believe Mercedes when she describes the conversation she had with them:

The night that the two women arrived in La Peza, I myself was the one in charge. I gave the code of access and they slept there. Teresa, the hospitalera, gave them dinner and breakfast. We did not charge them anything but asked for a donativo. We did not check to see if they left anything. I told them that we were doing them a favor, letting them sleep there that night because it was late, it was cold, and it was too late for them to look for something else. But that as of that moment, they were on notice of the policy and would have to look for alternative accommodations.
 
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Finally, let me say that we ask only for respect. Respect for something as magnificent as the Camino de Santiago, which is becoming cheapened and profaned by incidents like these, and which make a mockery out of the camino.

Firm but fair, in my humble opinion.

I don't think the girls set out to be disrespectful. They probably shared lovely moments with pilgrims, and enjoyed and been present in nature which in itself is spiritual.. but they weren't on a pilgrimage. "Walking the camino backwards" comes up from time to time and there is something quirky about the idea. But when you think it through it's quite narcissistic.

I think op has been critical of the Society, having been sympathetic to the girls' plight but hopefully the Society's response will give her the answer to the question she posed: "What makes a pilgrim?"
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
This is likely an example of a case where a number of well meaning people managed to get on the wrong sides of each other. Then with the power that the internet holds, it has blown out of proportion and people are getting hurt. I'm not sure that a minor debate on this forum constitutes "going viral", but it illustrates the problems with complaining or publishing bad reviews of places, based on a single encounter or secondhand account.
 
I have just read all 85 posts and managed not to post any comment along the way, which is not like me. It is also past midnight and my bed time, so if I say anything crazy, please forgive me.

As I read through the posts, the first thought that came to my mind is I am walking the Camino de Santiago. Every credential I have ever had said, Camino de Santiago. That said, I have not reached Santiago on every walk mainly due to a variety of constraints. ie: time, death in family.

Another thought that kept percolating in my head was the old saying of "When in Rome". I definitely always try to be at my best in any environment. That means when I am traveling, I attempt to adapt to the environment I am in. While I have been sorely lacking in my language skills (I try). I believe I am fairly polite.

The other element, which persisted through most of this thread, is we only had one side of the story. I have the benefit of coming to the party late and getting both sides of the story or as the late Paul Harvey would say "The rest of the story". That said, I acknowledge that the first side was not presented by the young ladies and the second was passed on through interpretation by a fellow forum member.

Rules are rules and as recipients of our hosts efforts to support our Camino/s, we should make the effort to adapt. We should be willing to learn what is expected, behavior wise, if we are to take advantage of the hospitality afforded us on our journey/s.If these guidelines change along the way, the responsibility is on me to adjust to the new environment.

Finally, in regards to the association that supports the Camino Mozarabe between Almeria and Granada. I walked this route in 2018 and the support from this group is above and beyond any expectation a Pilgrim should require.
 
I don't think the girls set out to be disrespectful. They probably shared lovely moments with pilgrims, and enjoyed and been present in nature which in itself is spiritual.. but they weren't on a pilgrimage. "Walking the camino backwards" comes up from time to time and there is something quirky about the idea. But when you think it through it's quite narcissistic.
If you've started such a thing in Santiago, then you have visited the Tomb of the Apostle, which makes you a pilgrim. So I think that's too harsh.

Furthermore, some people may simply not be sufficiently aware of the nature of the Camino, so it's overly harsh there as well.

Having said that, there has arisen a certain fashion for hiking tours among some young Spaniards that to an extent resemble but actually have nothing to do with the Camino. In some Albergues de Peregrinos, it's no big problem ; but clearly in others it could be.
 
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What people are you talking about? All kinds of untruths and opinions are said by people.

I would say that existence of the albergue system run by volunteers is a very important part of the Camino's special character. Being familiar with them and supporting them is an "essential" part of my experience, but staying in them is a privilege, not a right.
I am so glad you wrote this. My head always start to spin on or off the camino, and on any topic when the all encompassing, all knowing, final word on any topic that becomes indisputably the law of the land as soon as the word "THEY" and then fill in the blank is uttered. I always ask, who is THEY, what facts can you present to show me that what THEY can support an utterance that now is the gospel truth? What expertise do THEY have? Have many THEYS have you met so far? How many if these THEYS have you encountered? What is the percentage of THEYS that have uttered the "true. pilgrim" line to the total number of people you met and what is the percentage of THEYS to the 400,000 or so pilgrims that walk and receive compostelas and the thousands more just doing a section of the time. I bet those THEYS become truly inconsequential.
 
I think that doing so might obscure some aspects of the first post that I suspect are important to OP (although I am, of course, open to correction on this - I don't read minds).

I got the impression that what bothered Laura wasn't just that these people were refused entrance, but the way and reasons for doing so. A lot of people have pointed out that albergue owners and hospitaleros have the right to set the rules they wish. I, of course, agree with this, generally (if an albergue were to refuse entrance on the basis of race, sexual orientation, etc. I must admit it would bother me). I don't think Laura is disputing the right of albergues to set and enforce rules. I get the impression that what really concerned her was the assertion that these people were "not real pilgrims and just sightseeing tourists" [bolding hers]. That, I believe is what she opened this thread to discuss. To change the title would be to obscure what I think she sees as the point of the thread.
Hi David, I am not disputing your post at all. I live in Mexico and am married to a Mexican woman. Many of my relatives can speak some English. Others none. I used to teach English in Mexican corporations. Two examples to highlight what I am about to say. I worked closely with a brillant young woman who was the head of the legal department for all of Latin America. This company was a Fortune 500 company. Her English could be described as fluent. We didn't spend time on conversation. At least 2x a month she gave presentations (always in English) whose audiences ranged from other lawyers to the Board of Directors. We would have to go over presentation carefully as there were many times that what she wrote in her presentation did not capture the intent or more importantly the legal consequences of whatever her topic was. For a thirty minute presentation we usually had to spend about 2 hours honing and clarifying her presentation.
My wife speaks excellent English but there are many times that I do not understand what she wants and we have to do it in Spanish because I have no idea what she means.
I guess in a convoluted way what I am trying to say is that people who are speaking a second language often cannot accurately convey their meaning especially in a "delicate" situation.
I am sure you would agree that especially on less traveled caminos like the Mozarabe the speaker's level of English, if they can even speak it, is probably going to be low. As C Cleary and Peregrina 2000 have both stated this association is fantastic and have wonderful people. We need to cut these people a break.
I am sure, as have I, told people who walk less traveled caminos that some Spanish is almost essential. Thanks for listening.
 
The OP says that in her opinion refusing people in albergues who walk backwards is against "the spirit of the camino". The problem is that there is not a definition of what "the spirit of the camino " is. The consequence of this is that is is up to the volunteers/ the organisation to decide which rules they apply.
An interesting question to me is whether they ask pilgrims what their motivation to walk the camino is. In that case I fear that I would have to look for another place to stay.
 
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An interesting question to me is whether they ask pilgrims what their motivation to walk the camino is. In that case I fear that I would have to look for another place to stay.
No, they do not:

(The following quote is @peregrina2000’s translation of the statement that was issued by the Almería Association. You can see the full statement in post #82)
And walking the Camino de Santiago means that you start where you want, with whatever motivations you may have. Whether they are religious or not, by following the yellow arrows, which will some day bring you to the tomb of the Apostle, you are on a pilgrimage
 
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My husband and I are on our 7th Camino right now, the sparsely traveled Camino Mozarabe in SE Spain. Groups of volunteers run the different sections of the Camino and give you codes and things like that to get into the albergues since there are rarely Hospitaleros. The volunteers been helpful and welcoming to us.

We met 2 young women along they way on their break from medical school walking it backwards because it worked a lot better for them logistically to go from Cordoba to Almeria instead of the other way around. One of them has down the Norte. They have their pilgrim passports, are carrying their things, and have gotten stamps from every section up to the section after Granada.

From Cordoba to Granada, they were fine. Then once they got past Granada, a new group of volunteers took over and told them they were not allowed to stay in the albergues because they are not real pilgrims and just sightseeing tourists since they aren’t walking toward Santiago since a pilgrimage is to a sacred place.

So what makes a pilgrim? Many people have opinions on this: “You’re not a real pilgrim if….” Insert what you want: don’t carry your bag. Don’t sleep in albergues. Skip sections. Have tour groups plan their Camino. Etc. You name it, and people have an opinion on it. But they don’t get turned away from albergues.

But I have never heard of people being denied a bed (keep in mind, this is a lonely, hard Camino through the desert) because they are walking east instead of west. I understand it’s their facilities, and I suppose they can do what they want (?) but this is absolutely against the spirit of the Camino in my opinion.

I don’t know what to do about this, but I feel like this group of volunteers is a bit holier than though in their interpretation of what makes a pilgrim.

I’m quite upset about these women being treated this way. Thoughts?
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Definitely not right it’s YOUR Camino
The volunteers who put their hard work into building and running those albergues do so preserve the Camino as a pilgrimage to Santiago. Only those that meet the simple requirement of walking towards the Cathedral in Santiago are eligible to stay there. Other accommodations exist for those who have other goals.
 
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I understand that an albergue might turn away someone walking the opposite direction because it is not, presumably, why the albergue is there, but I do have a hard time with the notion that the limitation is because the Camino infrastructure is only for those who have SdC as a destination. I haven't been here for long, but it seems to me that this forum is filled with people who have no intention of actually going to SdC. Indeed, I read posts from people who actively avoid the "last 100km" and instead walk sections for all the other "pilgrimage" reasons -- contemplation, spiritual renewal, etc. If the infrastructure exists only for people who intend to walk to SdC (whether in one walk or in a series of shorter walks), should they also be turned away? Alternatively, if the two med students were walking for contemplation, spiritual renewal and the like, what distinguishes them from those who are heading in the "right" direction but are not going to SdC?
You have a point. The women were honest at least. I think, however, that there needs to be defined boundaries. If the person is saying the opposite and owning up to it then the boundaries or rules apply. Jesus, I suspect, might act differently.
 
So what makes a pilgrim? Many people have opinions on this: “You’re not a real pilgrim if….” Insert what you want: don’t carry your bag. Don’t sleep in albergues. Skip sections. Have tour groups plan their Camino. Etc. You name it, and people have an opinion on it. But they don’t get turned away from albergues.
And many albegue operators have opinions on what their mission is. Some are there to make money. Some are there to serve pilgrims—as they define “pilgrim.” No doubt there are other reasons.

I’ve stayed in more than eighteen albergues on Francés and Vía de la Plata, and none of them objected to my bicycle nor to my lack of credencial. So I see no point in filing a complaint against the minority that have chosen some other rule.
 
I realise this is a diversion, but very recently I became aware of a translator called Say Hi. It translates what you say into a range of languages. I just tested it and it is hilarious, as it does not know what to do with my totally Scottish accent!
The best free translate tool so far in my experience, is deepl. Apologies for the quasi subliminal interjection tothe thread... 😁
 
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The women were honest at least.
Do you really think that? If they were using a credential in the form mandated by the Office of Pilgrimages of the Diocese of Santiago, by that use they had agreed they were complying with a number of conditions, including that their pilgrimage was on the Camino de Santiago to the tomb of the saint. If they weren't, presenting the credential as a means of gaining "access to hostels offered by the Christian hospitality of the Way" was clearly untruthful.

If that is so, they have invalidated the credential for the purpose of accessing a range of pilgrim accommodation, including the accommodation being discussed here. There is an issue of personal morality here that has been touched on earlier. There may be no 'official rules' for albergues, but by using the credential, as individual pilgrims, we have agreed to a set of conditions established by the Diocese of Santiago. Personal lack of fluency in Spanish, French or any other language used in the credential is no excuse for not understanding what these are and the boundaries they establish around how we might complete our pilgrimage.

It seems to me that in failing to adhere to these boundaries, the only people who have failed to honour some, undefined, 'spirit of the camino' are the two women who were refused accommodation. I would suggest that rather than being upset about what happened to them, it would be far more appropriate for us to reconsider some of our previous rhetoric, and instead to be much more upset by the treatment being given to the hospitaleros and association involved, both by the two women and in this thread.
 
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