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Why No Public WCs along the Caminos?!?

2020 Camino Guides
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, Madrid (2019) Portuges (2020)
This statement can only cause discomfort, although it perhaps makes you feel above the fray. It is the type of thing that many of us may think, in various forms, and justify as being just a crusty remark. However, it is better not tossed out into the public forum as an generalized insult that can also hurt well-meaning people.
Your (what I will take as) well-meaning advice and my independent decision to think ‘why bother’ and delete my post were simultaneous. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

It was not ‘an generalised insult’ but - surely - there’s a bit of waking up and smelling the coffee needed occasionally?
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
I live on the Meseta and help care for the trail. As the number of pilgrims goes up, the amount of hygiene-related litter goes up. Much of this is due to the changing profile of the pilgrims: Back in the day, Camino hikers were youthful athletic types who knew how to pee outdoors. (but they also threw their water bottles and UberNutritionFoil-PakNRG wrappers willy-nilly everywhere). Nowadays, lots of less-outdoorsy pilgrims are new to backpacking. They don't leave so much litter behind, but they have never had to urinate or defecate outdoors before. They are shocked and dismayed at the idea of not using a meter of paper, and the thought of packing soiled things out with them is just not happening. And so the trail is littered with the leavings of these oh-so fastidious folks.
The Camino Frances passes through more than 400 different municipalities, each with its own laws, budgets, and priorities. Picking up after holidaymakers, or cleaning up a pit toilet after them, is not on the cards, no matter how offensive visitors from "more civilized" places might feel.
Two years ago I and a local architect talked about Camino sewage with some people from the EU and European Commission, as well as Patrimonio and Fomento departments here in Spain and Castilla y Leon. They all just arched their eyebrows, or laughed... funding and project coordination for a comprehensive pit-toilet program, or even a big, unified litter sweep, would be a cat-herding enterprise of epic proportions. Once the potties are built, who funds the cleanup and maintenance? (and there's nothing more fun to vandalize than an isolated loo, right?)

Some of us go ahead and keep our own little part of the pathway clean, but it is thankless, filthy work. In the end, it all comes back down to the pilgrims and the hikers. The land along the trail is going to have poo and pee on it, both animal and human. It always has had. If a pilgrim cannot tolerate that, or will not clean up after him/herself, he should go and walk elsewhere.
The Camino is what it is. Take it, but for God's sake don't leave it.
(Especially baby wipes. Those SOBs never go away!)
 

Robo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
The first time I read in these forums of the concept of 'packing out' your toilet waste I admit I was confronted. However, having considered it, and further to Robo's story above about using a trowel, something further convinces me of it's worth, and indeed advisability. In those stretches of the Camino where a toilet is not available, and only a single likely-looking bush or tree is in sight, I foresee that other pilgrims, quite a few of them, have very probably availed themselves of its proximity for an identical purpose, with the distinct possibility that when you dig your own little hole you might strike 'Black Gold'.

Now, that is worse than confronting.
Like that rest area between Carrion and Calzadilla on the CF.
A few benches and a big brick wall.
Don't go behind the wall ! Just don't! :eek:
It looks like a pack of dogs got 'caught short'. Yuk!
 

wcsjms

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2016) ; 1st Camino Frances September 2016-November 2016 ; Camino Frances August 2017-October 2017
Hello Fellow Pilgrims, I'm sure this subject has been talked about a number of times in the past and suggestions have been passed along to those responsible for maintaining the routes. I just finished my first Camino walking up the Coastal Portugal Route and to Finisterre & Muxia. With the many thousands of Pilgrims who walk the routes throughout the year, year after year, respectfully, I just don't understand why there are No Public WCs along the Way. Yes, I know you can stop and use the restrooms at a cafe/bar/restaurant but, there were days where you didn't see a cafe/bar for many miles, perhaps most of the day. There were also times I needed to make a quick stop due to the coffee kicking in but I wasn't interested in eating anything since just had breakfast or lunch. Also, when I walked in May, some of the cafes/bars/restaurants were still closed along the beach. Hey, I am blessed with a strong bladder but some Pilgrims aren't and it would be rude to assume they can hold or if they can't, expect them to go behind a tree, bush or rock in the Rural Areas of a city/town!?! This isn't the Appalachian Trail where you are in the backcountry, days away from the nearest town! There was a thread where someone suggested "training your bladder" before you walk your Camino. Yes, one can but what if a Pilgrim got sick with a stomach bug (a friend I know) or ate some food that disagreed with your digestive system? I did overhear of a Pilgrim who becoming very sick from a meal and had to walk all day before he could "change." I'm sure it happens to quite a few.

At most beaches I walked past, where locals & visitors swim and lay on the beach, I saw only outside showers for people to wash the sand off but no public restrooms, toilets, WCs or changing rooms! What do local people do who spend the day at the beach and have to go to the restroom outside of having to go to a restaurant/bar/cafe? I couldn't even find WCs in or around the Churches I passed, which for the most part sadly were all locked. How I wanted to visit, rest in some shade, in a quiet place, say a prayer, and even get a stamp but they're locked. I understand their theft & vandalism concerns. I once helped maintain a Church years ago. Someone even stole our red carpet on the Altar! I know many people are concerned about finding used toilet paper and waste along the routes. I am too. I saw too much of it myself! It seems to me that the only logical answer would be to build small WCs along the routes so people don't have to find a bush, a tree, a rock. Believe me, on the Coastal Portuguese route, I would walk a whole day before I saw a place to go like on the hike after Vigo! You are up on a ridge in the forest all day! I did find a rock but I shouldn't have too! There were many people walking, biking...the well-known, well used path! Hey, how about a seated Rest Area & a WC! I saw a few places one could be built! On other places along the Camino, I did come across just a few shaded rest areas for Pilgrims but no WCs! There was certainly room for one! When I was in Fatima, walking the Via Dolorosa in the woods, they had a real small public WC for Men & Women. In the States, we have Rest Areas & Public Restrooms at beaches, parks, in towns... along with water fountains. Let's face it. People need Restrooms/WCs! A WC wouldn't take up much space along the routes and it wouldn't be hard or expensive to build!

As a Pilgrim planning to return to walk another Camino in the near future, I would be glad to give $5 to help support building & maintaining WCs along the routes when I purchase my passport. To be honest, I don't even know why, in the 21st Century, closing in on 2020, we need to talk about this and ask, beg... cities, towns, beaches, parks ...to build WCs along the routes to help support Pilgrims and to keep the environment clean from human waste & soiled toilet paper!!! It's just plain common sense! What if the Church supporting Pilgrimage Routes with some funds to help build a few WCs to help support the basic needs of their Pilgrims? I know that would probably be impossible. OK, how about GoFundMe accounts for Camino Route WCs? Something needs and should be done beyond talking about it! Respectfully, just a few thoughts to a problem we all can agree on but the resolution isn't a tough one! Can someone on the route governing boards help out on this and try to make it happen? Thanks much. Buen Camino to all!
REALLY? SERIOUSLY ? OMG !!!! Try Disney World for creature comforts.
 

MarkyD

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 31/08/2018 - 20/10/2018
It's a good question that probably many people ask themselves. It's a common occurrence to find various toilet paper tissues behind many bushes, trees, walls etc. while walking between towns and villages. It seems to have set an example that others follow. I'm sure local people are not happy about it, or other pilgrims who at least take the tissues with them to be correctly disposed of when arriving at the next town or village or where they find a waste collection container.
There would be significant cost to distribute and maintain toilet facilities in open country, but at junctions or crossings of roads might be good place to locate some basic (open air festival type) organic toilets where the waste could be recycled.
This would be an inititiative welcomed by many, maybe a small tariff, like a toll charge, could help pay for the facilities - perhaps a kind of pilgrim tax to be levied at places of accommodation. I'm not sure this would be entirely popular, but if it cleaned up the Camino and made it more human waste friendly, then perhaps it might be worth it.
Alternatively, to be exempt from paying the special toilet levy/pilgrim tax, then some kind of proof of an autonomous waste disposal system that can be emptied in an approved manner, could be demonstrated to the hospitalero/a on arrival. After all, some of us carry refillable water containers to reduce plastic bottle waste, so a similar portable waste storage device might not be such a bad idea.
 

freespirit

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances - Lourdes v SJPDP - Santiago (June/July 2010) Camino Frances - SJPDP - Santiago (July/August 2015) Camino Frances - SJPDP - Santiago (June/July/August 2017)
Hello Fellow Pilgrims, I'm sure this subject has been talked about a number of times in the past and suggestions have been passed along to those responsible for maintaining the routes. I just finished my first Camino walking up the Coastal Portugal Route and to Finisterre & Muxia. With the many thousands of Pilgrims who walk the routes throughout the year, year after year, respectfully, I just don't understand why there are No Public WCs along the Way. Yes, I know you can stop and use the restrooms at a cafe/bar/restaurant but, there were days where you didn't see a cafe/bar for many miles, perhaps most of the day. There were also times I needed to make a quick stop due to the coffee kicking in but I wasn't interested in eating anything since just had breakfast or lunch. Also, when I walked in May, some of the cafes/bars/restaurants were still closed along the beach. Hey, I am blessed with a strong bladder but some Pilgrims aren't and it would be rude to assume they can hold or if they can't, expect them to go behind a tree, bush or rock in the Rural Areas of a city/town!?! This isn't the Appalachian Trail where you are in the backcountry, days away from the nearest town! There was a thread where someone suggested "training your bladder" before you walk your Camino. Yes, one can but what if a Pilgrim got sick with a stomach bug (a friend I know) or ate some food that disagreed with your digestive system? I did overhear of a Pilgrim who becoming very sick from a meal and had to walk all day before he could "change." I'm sure it happens to quite a few.

At most beaches I walked past, where locals & visitors swim and lay on the beach, I saw only outside showers for people to wash the sand off but no public restrooms, toilets, WCs or changing rooms! What do local people do who spend the day at the beach and have to go to the restroom outside of having to go to a restaurant/bar/cafe? I couldn't even find WCs in or around the Churches I passed, which for the most part sadly were all locked. How I wanted to visit, rest in some shade, in a quiet place, say a prayer, and even get a stamp but they're locked. I understand their theft & vandalism concerns. I once helped maintain a Church years ago. Someone even stole our red carpet on the Altar! I know many people are concerned about finding used toilet paper and waste along the routes. I am too. I saw too much of it myself! It seems to me that the only logical answer would be to build small WCs along the routes so people don't have to find a bush, a tree, a rock. Believe me, on the Coastal Portuguese route, I would walk a whole day before I saw a place to go like on the hike after Vigo! You are up on a ridge in the forest all day! I did find a rock but I shouldn't have too! There were many people walking, biking...the well-known, well used path! Hey, how about a seated Rest Area & a WC! I saw a few places one could be built! On other places along the Camino, I did come across just a few shaded rest areas for Pilgrims but no WCs! There was certainly room for one! When I was in Fatima, walking the Via Dolorosa in the woods, they had a real small public WC for Men & Women. In the States, we have Rest Areas & Public Restrooms at beaches, parks, in towns... along with water fountains. Let's face it. People need Restrooms/WCs! A WC wouldn't take up much space along the routes and it wouldn't be hard or expensive to build!

As a Pilgrim planning to return to walk another Camino in the near future, I would be glad to give $5 to help support building & maintaining WCs along the routes when I purchase my passport. To be honest, I don't even know why, in the 21st Century, closing in on 2020, we need to talk about this and ask, beg... cities, towns, beaches, parks ...to build WCs along the routes to help support Pilgrims and to keep the environment clean from human waste & soiled toilet paper!!! It's just plain common sense! What if the Church supporting Pilgrimage Routes with some funds to help build a few WCs to help support the basic needs of their Pilgrims? I know that would probably be impossible. OK, how about GoFundMe accounts for Camino Route WCs? Something needs and should be done beyond talking about it! Respectfully, just a few thoughts to a problem we all can agree on but the resolution isn't a tough one! Can someone on the route governing boards help out on this and try to make it happen? Thanks much. Buen Camino to all!
Hi about building wc along the camino seems a stupid idea .can you imagine after a few days if its not cleaned regularly it will really start to stink especially in the hot weather also would start to get blocked up and dont forget all the flys etc.its better to go behind a bush or something at least the rain will do its bit and its also good for the ground recycling at least you would be doing your bit for the carbon footprint one more thing when you have got to go you have got to go and getting back to nature
 

Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances x 2 , Norte x 2 , Le Puy x 3 , Portuguese x 2,
Mont St Michel , Primitivo .
I wasn't a tourist, neither an many who Walk the Camino! We are not "demanding." Stop being so defensive, judgemental and arrogant on who or what is a 'pilgrim' and a 'tourist!' These are simple suggestions on how to attend to our natural needs and on how to keep the environment clean. Why not include a public WC on the outskirts of the Way? Even a simple portable? Hey, many people are unemployed and going through rough times all over the world. Now, for a guy, it is really easy to unzip and empty your bladder but for us gals, it is quite different! This is the 21st century, not the 12th century and we are not in the backcountry. I would hope that we have come a long way since the 12th century... in attitude, in sensitivity, with somewhat learned empathy towards others and some wisdom, in regards to personal care, and in reference to much needed facilities! Even portables would work! It is the only decent, common sense, the Mature!!!!, human... thing to do when you have thousands and thousands of pilgrims walking the Way. It will also help keep the area clean of used toilet paper, garbage and human waste! Afterall, we are not neanderthals tracing around the wilderness nor are we tourist staying at 5 star accommodations! I thought walking the Camino teaches one to not be some judgmental, to not to criticize others, to learn and practice some empathy ... to not be so nasty in attitude! We are (supposed to be) civilized people who, hopefully, have some measure of respect for the environment, respect for others whether they are residents or other visitors, whether we live there or are just passing through! Now, if you came to my area and asked about facilities, I would be glad to help you find some!
You sure have become a very experienced Pilgrim ......very quickly.
When you walk the Frances as you informed us that was your intention then your attitude might change.

One of the great joys of walking all those km’s in France and Spain was the feeling of not being in the 21sr century.

Picture a children’s hospital , picture the casualty section and then tell me how important is this subject that you have written many many words on.
I am very careful about knocking what other countries have , very careful indeed.
 

gerip

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF, Lourdes to Burgos, Oct 2018
CF, Burgos to Santiago, May 2019
Ingles, Sep - Oct 2019
Here is my contribution to the subject of loos on the Camino https://readingontheroad54893552.wordpress.com/2018/11/23/when-nature-calls/
(btw, have just done the South West Coast path in UK and it was worse!)
There IS a public toilet across from the tourist office in Burgos, one of those self-cleaning kiosks that takes €0.50, like the ones all over France. Some years ago in NYC the city council installed a number of them, but they were removed because -- get this -- it cost $0.25 to use, and only women would be paying, as men could easily go pee in an alley. Campaigners wanted the facilities to be free to use, but the amount of water and cleaning materials, toilet paper, etc. had to be paid for some way, so after the campaigners won their case the council just got rid of them. Can't win for losing.:rolleyes:
 

gerip

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF, Lourdes to Burgos, Oct 2018
CF, Burgos to Santiago, May 2019
Ingles, Sep - Oct 2019
We took special purpose plastic trowels on our first camino. Useless for digging holes on sunbaked "hard as rock" ground.

I'm taking a jackhammer on the next Camino! 😂

The worst part in my opinion, is the Orisson to Ronceveles section especially to the Spanish border. Barbed wire fences on both sides of the path.

Wirecutters might be taken also? :p

I still recon there is a great business opportunity for someone prepared to tow portaloos to be placed strategically along the way. I'd pay happily pay 5 euros to visit when needed.
Green portaloos on the meseta. I can see it all now. NOOOOOOOOOO!:eek:
 

gerip

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF, Lourdes to Burgos, Oct 2018
CF, Burgos to Santiago, May 2019
Ingles, Sep - Oct 2019
This is a topic that comes up often......... But I think we need to take responsibility, not the local authorities.
Amen to that. It's my job to provide for my own needs (although I have used one or two toilets without buying something at the bar, naughty me.)
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
I know many people are concerned about finding used toilet paper and waste along the routes. I am too. I saw too much of it myself! It seems to me that the only logical answer would be to build small WCs along the routes so people don't have to find a bush, a tree, a rock.
I understand the assumed association between a lack of porta-potties and the path-side debris and litter from toileting al fresco. This assumes, though, that leaving such a mess behind is not controllable by the individual; that they MUST leave their detritus behind if they poo or pee outdoors.

People are able to to pick up their waste and paper and take it with them for later disposal, though. The answer is NOT public toilets along a Camino, it is gaining compliance though whatever means are effective that will help solve that problem.

There will be peeing and pooing along a Camino even with public toilets. . . it is just too impractical to place the sheer number of such toilets needed, at close enough intervals, to solve that issue. It would cost far less money to do a high profile education campaign at common pilgrim starting locations and albergues and bars and rest stops and hangouts, then to just maintain a dozen such toilets.
 

JudiJay

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Portugues (coastal) 2016
We also walked the Portuguese Senda Litoral in a May and I have a very low bladder threshold. Availability of facilties were a major concern from the very beginning. It was still low season and the few public toilets near a beach were locked. But somehow I managed by seizing opportunities. The route wasn't very busy but I was surprised by cyclists a couple of times, (they whooshed past, so little embarrassment and our paths will never cross again) and always availed myself of cafes, offering to pay if I could not face consuming more liquid. Instead of tissues I had a damp Chux in a ziplock bag with a few drops of tea tree oil and rinsed it at every opportunity. A fresh one every day, and the old ones dried overnight and packed away to be disposed of later. Not much extra weight to do it like this. The tissues littering the way (not to mention faecal deposits on the path once or twice) made me very glad I had thought my problem through before I left Australia.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011 (2019)
Not everyone is a church goer, on a pilgrimage, religious or even spiritual. Some people are on a long walk to get away from the rat race...
Indeed, but I never felt that I wouldn't use a toilet in a church were I in need. I recently walked part of the (Australian) Bicentennial National Trail, a horse oriented track along almost the entire eastern part of Australia. There were a couple of small country churches built in splendid isolation along the way, all with toilets at the back of the property, and not inside the church building. It always pays to make a check for other occupants when using these, but so much better than squatting by the side of the road.
 

Karl Oz

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances
Portuguese
Aragones
Sanabres
Piamonte
Elizabethpfad
You sure have become a very experienced Pilgrim ......very quickly.
When you walk the Frances as you informed us that was your intention then your attitude might change.

One of the great joys of walking all those km’s in France and Spain was the feeling of not being in the 21sr century.

Picture a children’s hospital , picture the casualty section and then tell me how important is this subject that you have written many many words on.
I am very careful about knocking what other countries have , very careful indeed.
With respect, informing others that their worldy concerns are negligible in comparison to those that are, variously, ill in hospital/live in a hovel in Calcutta/born with a humpback etc is at best unconvincing. The same argument can be leveled at the person who utters it. The logical end-point is that no-one except the single most unfortunate and down-trodden individual in the world has justification in voicing a disaffected opinion. A moderator only several days ago reminded forum members that one of the few justifications for their deleting of posts is a holier-than-thou attitude, so please, let's keep it polite.
 

Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances x 2 , Norte x 2 , Le Puy x 3 , Portuguese x 2,
Mont St Michel , Primitivo .
a disaffected opinion.
Was in my opinion the OP's words in earlier posts,
People who replied were called ; Bitter, defensive, judgemental , arrogant & Insensitive to name a few.

I simply tried to point out , respectfully , that the world won't come to an end if Spain ignores "the begging and /or Go Fund Me tribe " to enter the 21st Century with toilets .
It's definitely not a major concern amongst the many hundreds of thousands who walk the Camino's each year.
There are many more important things to achieve before a head gasket is blown on toilet blocks.
Its funny you mentioned Calcutta as a friend of mine , initials GR , wrote a wonderful Life Story and part was based around his life in India .
The book was called Shantaran.
I wish this untidiness never occurred on the paths [ less in France] but unfortunately the masses are changing.
However ;
I was being facetious in reminding the OP that a walk from Porto ?? along the coast will be very different
than the Frances.
Should be no excuses there ;
Before you depart use the loo , first stop Coffee .....use the loo , second stop cake ......use the loo , when you arrive at the destination ....use the loo.
 
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VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
that the world won't come to an end if Spain ignores "the begging and /or go fund me tribe " to enter the 21st Century with toilets for the paths and it's definitely not a major concern amongst the many hundreds of thousands who walk the Camino's each year.
Indeed. Nor should that be a priority.

Dave, your post:
The answer is NOT public toilets along a Camino, it is gaining compliance though whatever means are effective that will help solve that problem.
clarified the discomfort that has been chewing on me in the background around this whole topic, but that I couldn't quite articulate.

It's about responsibility.
And not demanding that people in Spain provide for us (seasonal locust swarms that we are).

People who live along the camino who foot the bill for such things aren't the ones who need the toilets.
We do. So can we pilgrims pick up our end of the stick, and be flexible and creative in order to minimize our impacts on the environment we walk through? I think we can, and many are - there are lots of good ideas in this thread about how to deal with bodily functions in a way that doesn't compound the problem, but minimizes it.

Complaining and wanting other people to fix a problem we're creating is pointless. It's up to us.
 
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arturo garcia

Pilgrim/Hospitalero/Mountain guide/Photographer
Camino(s) past & future
French way (Dic. 2012), Portuguese way (Dic.2013) and now living on the Camino.
Someone a great bussiness oportunity, you can open JacoBath, a system of toilets along the Caminos.

Don´t forget to have a very flexible opening time, maybe around 5 in the morning till 22 hrs.

It will be a source of jobs for many people.

The quality of your service will be rated in internet.


Buen Camino
 
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Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
The quality of your service will be rated in internet.
A friend of mine has written a number of guidebooks. In an angry post by one user several months after one of his guides was published he was criticised for failing to predict that a bar he had mentioned in the book had run out of toilet paper on the day the reader visited. Do not expect your reviews to be 100% rational :cool:
 

arturo garcia

Pilgrim/Hospitalero/Mountain guide/Photographer
Camino(s) past & future
French way (Dic. 2012), Portuguese way (Dic.2013) and now living on the Camino.
A friend of mine has written a number of guidebooks. In an angry post by one user several months after one of his guides was published he was criticised for failing to predict that a bar he had mentioned in the book had run out of toilet paper on the day the reader visited. Do not expect your reviews to be 100% rational :cool:
This is the typical Post Diluvian irrationality.
 

Lucy Keenan

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Northern Route - 2016
Santiago to Finestiere and Muxia - 2017
Frances Route - May 2018
Camino Ingles
Hello Fellow Pilgrims, I'm sure this subject has been talked about a number of times in the past and suggestions have been passed along to those responsible for maintaining the routes. I just finished my first Camino walking up the Coastal Portugal Route and to Finisterre & Muxia. With the many thousands of Pilgrims who walk the routes throughout the year, year after year, respectfully, I just don't understand why there are No Public WCs along the Way. Yes, I know you can stop and use the restrooms at a cafe/bar/restaurant but, there were days where you didn't see a cafe/bar for many miles, perhaps most of the day. There were also times I needed to make a quick stop due to the coffee kicking in but I wasn't interested in eating anything since just had breakfast or lunch. Also, when I walked in May, some of the cafes/bars/restaurants were still closed along the beach. Hey, I am blessed with a strong bladder but some Pilgrims aren't and it would be rude to assume they can hold or if they can't, expect them to go behind a tree, bush or rock in the Rural Areas of a city/town!?! This isn't the Appalachian Trail where you are in the backcountry, days away from the nearest town! There was a thread where someone suggested "training your bladder" before you walk your Camino. Yes, one can but what if a Pilgrim got sick with a stomach bug (a friend I know) or ate some food that disagreed with your digestive system? I did overhear of a Pilgrim who becoming very sick from a meal and had to walk all day before he could "change." I'm sure it happens to quite a few.

At most beaches I walked past, where locals & visitors swim and lay on the beach, I saw only outside showers for people to wash the sand off but no public restrooms, toilets, WCs or changing rooms! What do local people do who spend the day at the beach and have to go to the restroom outside of having to go to a restaurant/bar/cafe? I couldn't even find WCs in or around the Churches I passed, which for the most part sadly were all locked. How I wanted to visit, rest in some shade, in a quiet place, say a prayer, and even get a stamp but they're locked. I understand their theft & vandalism concerns. I once helped maintain a Church years ago. Someone even stole our red carpet on the Altar! I know many people are concerned about finding used toilet paper and waste along the routes. I am too. I saw too much of it myself! It seems to me that the only logical answer would be to build small WCs along the routes so people don't have to find a bush, a tree, a rock. Believe me, on the Coastal Portuguese route, I would walk a whole day before I saw a place to go like on the hike after Vigo! You are up on a ridge in the forest all day! I did find a rock but I shouldn't have too! There were many people walking, biking...the well-known, well used path! Hey, how about a seated Rest Area & a WC! I saw a few places one could be built! On other places along the Camino, I did come across just a few shaded rest areas for Pilgrims but no WCs! There was certainly room for one! When I was in Fatima, walking the Via Dolorosa in the woods, they had a real small public WC for Men & Women. In the States, we have Rest Areas & Public Restrooms at beaches, parks, in towns... along with water fountains. Let's face it. People need Restrooms/WCs! A WC wouldn't take up much space along the routes and it wouldn't be hard or expensive to build!

As a Pilgrim planning to return to walk another Camino in the near future, I would be glad to give $5 to help support building & maintaining WCs along the routes when I purchase my passport. To be honest, I don't even know why, in the 21st Century, closing in on 2020, we need to talk about this and ask, beg... cities, towns, beaches, parks ...to build WCs along the routes to help support Pilgrims and to keep the environment clean from human waste & soiled toilet paper!!! It's just plain common sense! What if the Church supporting Pilgrimage Routes with some funds to help build a few WCs to help support the basic needs of their Pilgrims? I know that would probably be impossible. OK, how about GoFundMe accounts for Camino Route WCs? Something needs and should be done beyond talking about it! Respectfully, just a few thoughts to a problem we all can agree on but the resolution isn't a tough one! Can someone on the route governing boards help out on this and try to make it happen? Thanks much. Buen Camino to all!
I can understand this predicament, but in reality if wouldn't be possible or practical.
 

Chizuru

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2018)
You'll 'get over it' :rolleyes:

My wife Pat uses the toilet about 15 times a day! I kid you not.
A bladder the size of a matchbox!

On Day 1, of her first Camino she tried not to drink too much in the morning, so as to make it to the first toilet.
Ha. Fat Chance!
The idea of squatting behind a bush did not please her.........

She lasted 38 minutes :cool:

As she emerged from the bushes with a smile of relief on her face, she remarked "well that wasn't so bad"

She must have stopped 5 -10 times / day. Seriously.........
And of course every cafe / bar we passed!

If out of town......She would merely remark.........."look out for a nice bush in the next 10 minutes please"..........

I became an expert! Key characteristics to look for are.......: ;)

  1. Not an obvious location. Otherwise you'll find lots of people have been there before you.
  2. It provides 'cover' from both directions along the path.
  3. Don't forget to check the 'third' angle. Any other things like houses, roads, paths that may look 'onto' your chosen spot from behind you. (beyond the path)
  4. If needing to stop for something more 'serious' the ground surface should allow for digging a small hole.
I was always able to find such a spot within 5 minutes.........

Occasionally it was a grass ditch beside the path, but only if no one was within sight or following Pilgrims were far away.......
This sounds like it was written by my husband!!! Actually, I liked to use the wee paths as you knew that they would lead to a likely spot but WHY don't people carry out their paper and dig a hole for number 2s! It is very easy to do this. Just bring a ziplock bag.
 

Chizuru

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2018)
I think that people are ignoring the real questions/problems posed in this thread.
There are very long stretches of the Camino be it Portugal of Frances, etc, without towns and therefore without cafes, etc to use a toilet which means that pilgrims have to urinate and defecate in the open. Even with burying waste and taking away paper, this still creates a problem with contaminating the countryside with diseases that can be spread such as salmonella, e.coli, typhoid, and other nasties that can contaminate the crops grown beside the Camino where the pilgrims hide for privacy.
I don't know the answer to the contamination problem as even if there were toilets every mile you still would have people caught short but it horrified me at the huge amounts of paper waste, wet wipes and even sanitary pads just left lying around.
I have thought about creating posters for teaching pilgrims to be respectful by carrying away their papers, etc and have thought that enlisting the help of local Rotary clubs might be a solution as Rotary have a strong interest in sanitation. I am a Rotarian and I have been trying to gather enough Rotarians who love the Camino from different countries to create a Camino Fellowship of Rotarians so that we can work on not only the posters but on sponsoring the installation of public toilets in a few key stretches where there are no cafes for very long stretches.
This is a public health issue and is therefore not just a frivolous issue of modesty or convenience. If the farmers' food crops are contaminated with e.coli or salmonella it is a serious issue for them.
I never passed a toilet without using one but had to duck off the path to relieve myself many times a day. I was always trying to be respectful of the locals, always carried my paper out and dug a hole for my waste, and got used to sometimes being visible because the Meseta is a hard place to find hiding spots but with ever-increasing numbers, this is an issue that won't be resolving itself.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
View attachment 64527

One of two public toilets seen between Le Puy and Conques. If the French can do it, why not the Spanish?
In France, the provision of public toilets in the 19th century was a major political topic, as authorities worked to deal with the gap between the lack of indoor plumbing in many parts of cities, and the biological realities of a human population, and were trying to ensure that the public parks, alleyways, etc., did not become open toilets. Building on the classical example of the Roman emperor Vespasian, who provided public toilets in Rome, the vespasienne was one of the symbols of progress under the Third Republic (http://operation-vespasiennes.eu) and references were made in public speeches of how much better things were than under Napoleon III (there's a book on this very subject). Pilgrims of a certain age who had access to the BBC or PBS in the 1970s will recall the Clochemerle series where the politics and society of a French village was overwhelmed by the provision of a public loo.

This heritage still marks France, and is a great help to pedestrians. I only wish that Canada followed the noble French example!

Outside Spanish towns and cities, where bars are most hospitable to us, the situation is dire and, on the Frances, abominable. This site (http://www.freepee.org/Europe/Spain/) will be of little help.

Once upon a time, when I was important and had the ear of Spanish authorities, I raised the topic, which seemed to surprise them. I was told that this was really the responsibility of municipalities and when I pointed out that it was the stretches between municipalities which was the challenge, was told that municipal governments covered all of Spain so, really, there's no problem. Looking back, I should have pursued the issue, but we were focussing on security matters which, at the time, was a priority.
 

Dancing Rain

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015)
Camino Salvado (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
You'll 'get over it' :rolleyes:

My wife Pat uses the toilet about 15 times a day! I kid you not.
A bladder the size of a matchbox!

On Day 1, of her first Camino she tried not to drink too much in the morning, so as to make it to the first toilet.
Ha. Fat Chance!
The idea of squatting behind a bush did not please her.........

She lasted 38 minutes :cool:

As she emerged from the bushes with a smile of relief on her face, she remarked "well that wasn't so bad"

She must have stopped 5 -10 times / day. Seriously.........
And of course every cafe / bar we passed!

If out of town......She would merely remark.........."look out for a nice bush in the next 10 minutes please"..........

I became an expert! Key characteristics to look for are.......: ;)

  1. Not an obvious location. Otherwise you'll find lots of people have been there before you.
  2. It provides 'cover' from both directions along the path.
  3. Don't forget to check the 'third' angle. Any other things like houses, roads, paths that may look 'onto' your chosen spot from behind you. (beyond the path)
  4. If needing to stop for something more 'serious' the ground surface should allow for digging a small hole.
I was always able to find such a spot within 5 minutes.........

Occasionally it was a grass ditch beside the path, but only if no one was within sight or following Pilgrims were far away.......
So grateful to my beloved for all the ways, including these, that he supports me as we manage my digestive issues throughout our caminos
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances
Aragones
Baztan
Invierno
Norte
Its actually interesting
I live on the Meseta and help care for the trail. As the number of pilgrims goes up, the amount of hygiene-related litter goes up. Much of this is due to the changing profile of the pilgrims: Back in the day, Camino hikers were youthful athletic types who knew how to pee outdoors. (but they also threw their water bottles and UberNutritionFoil-PakNRG wrappers willy-nilly everywhere). Nowadays, lots of less-outdoorsy pilgrims are new to backpacking. They don't leave so much litter behind, but they have never had to urinate or defecate outdoors before. They are shocked and dismayed at the idea of not using a meter of paper, and the thought of packing soiled things out with them is just not happening. And so the trail is littered with the leavings of these oh-so fastidious folks.
The Camino Frances passes through more than 400 different municipalities, each with its own laws, budgets, and priorities. Picking up after holidaymakers, or cleaning up a pit toilet after them, is not on the cards, no matter how offensive visitors from "more civilized" places might feel.
Two years ago I and a local architect talked about Camino sewage with some people from the EU and European Commission, as well as Patrimonio and Fomento departments here in Spain and Castilla y Leon. They all just arched their eyebrows, or laughed... funding and project coordination for a comprehensive pit-toilet program, or even a big, unified litter sweep, would be a cat-herding enterprise of epic proportions. Once the potties are built, who funds the cleanup and maintenance? (and there's nothing more fun to vandalize than an isolated loo, right?)

Some of us go ahead and keep our own little part of the pathway clean, but it is thankless, filthy work. In the end, it all comes back down to the pilgrims and the hikers. The land along the trail is going to have poo and pee on it, both animal and human. It always has had. If a pilgrim cannot tolerate that, or will not clean up after him/herself, he should go and walk elsewhere.
The Camino is what it is. Take it, but for God's sake don't leave it.
(Especially baby wipes. Those SOBs never go away!)
I´m rather humbled by reading about your unselfish effort. Please accept my heartfelt thanks. It is persons like you that make it possible for us to do what we like to do (walk the Caminos......).
 

Clarity

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2018
Dunno about Portugal or Spain. Do know about the UK where you can hire a "Portaloo" for £50 a day including servicing. Delivery and removal extra. Providing toilet opportunities for a fairly small, 5000 ticket, 4 day music festival can cost £20,000. You can divide that by 20,000, multiply by 365 and you'll arrive a a cost per location per year. Your $5 isn't going to go far, you've made a contribution to the cost of 4 days of facility on a 10 day Camino, 35 days if you start in St Jean on the Frances, and who would you pay it to?

There are no Camino Authorities, there are no governing boards, there is no-one responsible for maintaining the routes. There is no-one who could co-ordinate or control a program of facility construction or pay for ongoing maintenance, service and repair. The Camino routes, as you have discovered, range through cities, towns, tiny villages, farmed country and wild country. Where would they site any facility? From my experience on the clean-up crews I'd suggest about 1 mile after anywhere a Pilgrim can get a drink or some food, because its around about a mile after they leave a fully serviced facility that most Pilgrims seem inclined to dump their water-bottle, bocadillo wrapper or worse. @DebbieG64 I can empathise with your distress but given that so many people on this planet do not have access to sanitary facilities at any time, let alone a bar or cafe, your $5 would be better spent at https://www.wateraid.org/uk/donate/donate-to-wateraid-today?id=UN0000,RA/TPP,OnlineRG,RA/TPP/01A&gclsrc=aw.ds&&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI86qTr-u_5AIVRrDtCh1uvg-IEAAYASAAEgK5avD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds or your local equivalent.
All I can say to this is don't crap on the track. When I did the Camino Frances last year I was surprised at how many early risers didn't even bother to leave the track because it was dark and went on the edge of the walkway. I was appalled at the amount of toilet paper left around. I have an irritable bladder so there is no way I can go hours between toilet stops, everytime I left the track to pee there were mountains of paper scattered around. Totally gross. I carried a small bag for paper that I could dispose of later and when I ran out of bags buried the paper. Apart from Cafes and Bars I saw one public pay toilet in a city and didn't had the right coins to use it! It is a problem that will not be resolved because there is no one authority across the the country taking care of the Way.
 

Clarity

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
2018
Its actually interesting

I´m rather humbled by reading about your unselfish effort. Please accept my heartfelt thanks. It is persons like you that make it possible for us to do what we like to do (walk the Caminos......).
Thank you for what you do. It is filthy and I tried to leave nothing by footprints not always successfully. Blessings on your service to the Way.
 

truthseeker

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés (2018)
The most important thing is to continue to remind pilgrims of their responsibility to "leave nothing behind" -- the Camino is not a national park with facilities which have been provided and maintained for our convenience. It's someone else's land we are grateful to be walking over, for the purpose of pilgrimage. We wouldn't like people to litter our yards with their used tissues, would we? Also, anything (like a porta-loo or even a trash can) which is installed has to be emptied by someone. In a city, it's possible to hire people to do this. But farmers are busy with their own tasks and are not looking for jobs as sanitation workers.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
I am a Rotarian and I have been trying to gather enough Rotarians who love the Camino from different countries to create a Camino Fellowship of Rotarians so that we can work on not only the posters but on sponsoring the installation of public toilets in a few key stretches where there are no cafes for very long stretches.
Good idea. And if this were to work it would require hiring someone to keep the toilets clean. Frequently. Public toilets left to their own devices can be more disgusting and unsanitary than you can imagine. Not to be discouraging, just to make sure this is on your radar screen.

If you did manage to pull something off, it would be a be much appreciated by everyone - especially the a few staunch and brave local 'Ditch Pigs' who try to keep their patch of the camino clean, at no small personal and monetary expense.

I'd say the first place to start is on the meseta where there are few places where there is cover, and so a concentration of disgust anyplace it exists. The back of that wall mentioned by @Robo is truly repulsive. A frequently maintained and cleaned composting toilet there would be a boon.
 

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