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Year-round pilgrims on the Camino

Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2017); Camino a Muxia (2017)
I realize this probably isn't a frequently asked question, but I don't know where else to put this post.

I recently heard reference to year-round pilgrims and I'm curious about them. It's not something I can imagine for myself but I am intrigued by those who have. I'm hoping some of you have met such an individual, had an opportunity to talk with them and are willing to share the experience. Or who knows, perhaps you are one of these pilgrims.

What was their motivation for a life (or at least years) of pilgrimage? Were they atoning for something? Were they searching for something? Were they homeless and finding life on the Camino an easier way of getting by in life? Did they have a circuit they tended to follow to account for the seasons?

Thank you and buen camino.
 
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Anamiri

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2016, 2017, 2019 Camino Frances
I met the same English guy 3 years apart, once in Navarette, the other on the way to Rabanal.
He lived in Pamplona and spent every weekend and all holidays walking the Camino.
It had become a way of life for him.
I think the two driving forces were the social aspect and the affordability.
He met other people to talk with each weekend - a social life. It was cheap enough for it to be a home-away-from-home in the weekends as he shared a house in Pamplona.
I couldn't believe it when I met him the second time.
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2017); Camino a Muxia (2017)
I met Pepo la Tortuga, he walks continuously. He is from Alicante i think ans says he likes the people, its cheaper than renting a place, and it helped him qit alcohol. Here is an article about him:
I like his notion that "The Way makes us human."
 

Arn

Veteran Member
I personally like the idea of walking continuously (a few hours/kms a day) on the Camino. Sadly, although I believe I could accomplish the adventure, being an American, there is a limit on the number of continuous days I can be in the EU. I thought about a visa for cultural/religious reasons, but you must show accommodations (don't think an albergue counts) or the specific event and location.
 

Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
I have heard of a few pilgrims ending in Finesterre, then never leaving the area, but live outdoors mostly, not in town. If true, I've wondered if they wander back and forth doing sections of the path.
 
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Year of past OR future Camino
Caminos Francais: 2002, 2012, 2019. (Future Ingles, Primitivo, Portuguese in 2021)
In 2019 on a stretch outside Leon, a dusty and windy April day, I walked briefly alongside a retired Brit who was living in ... Seville, maybe? As you do, "First Camino? Third? (me) Fortieth? him"!! And the way he answered the question, "40th", flat, unenthused. I took a step back and he did not pause, he kept right on walking. I think he was all too accustomed to this response (one staggering backwards), likely having responded several thousand times to it as the number of his Camino's inched upward. The thing is, there was no joy in that response -- okay, fair enough, he was far from young man, walking into that relentless wind late in the day, maybe longing for an icy lager at the bar still several miles distant, maybe in some discomfort and most disinclined to chat. But, a grin? A shrug? A reason, although any reason on the Camino is fine.? Well, I let him walk on without scurrying to keep up, chatty Yank pilgrim lady that I am, but gosh, there had to be a story there!
 
Year of past OR future Camino
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
The thought appeals to me. And for my next Camino (CF) I will probably use 2 months, walking shorter daily distances. 7-8 months on Caminos may be OK; And maybe spend Nov-Mar in a place like Alicante. My monthly pension is ready for that.

But if I were to introduce this idea today, my "better half" will no doubt present me with some pretty nasty, aggresive protests, as well as maybe physical abuse. So it will have to wait....:D
 
Year of past OR future Camino
2012
Hmm. There are, or possibly were, a small community of individuals who "lived" on the Camino Frances. I'm aware of one individual who for years has processed from Lisbon to Lourdes and back again in eternal hope that things will have changed and his mum will still be alive and he'll have a room in her apartment... There are others who walk for a bit, volunteer for a bit, stay off-grid, "sell" the odd four-leaf-clover, pick some grapes or lift some spuds and rely (relied) on the Albergue network to provide bed, shower and a rummage in the discarded box whenever they'd raised €10 or so.

Year-round Pilgrim; perpetual Pilgrim? Bunyan wrote about one of those and it was a story lacking laughter. I 'spose I could lay claim to perpetuity myself. I've walked from one place to another most of my life. Sometimes even to Pilgrimage destinations with Pilgrimage in my heart. Those who walk forever on the Pilgrimage roads; they may (note the may) not be Pilgrims but, like he who was told "Rise, take up thy bed and walk", are still out there walking, because walking is what they will do until the world changes
 

lt56ny

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
CF(2012) Le Puy/CF (2015) Portugues (2017) Norte (2018) CF (2019) VDLP?
I never spoke wth this fellow
seen in Rabanal 25/11/2013 but he appears to be an eternal pilgrim
I saw this man also. I believe it was also in 2013. He was sitting in a booth that was owned by another person who was also bearded and about the same age. They both lived on the Camino. The other man had fruit and water and a few other things that he was giving out. There was a donation jar. They both marched to their own drumbeat. I can't seem to find the photo that I took of the two of them together. I got the impression that they were good friends.
 
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Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Year of past OR future Camino
Many, various, and continuing.
All the professional pilgrims I have met are men of a certain age. Julian is from Toledo, he is spending his winter in Carrion de los Condes, sleeping among his collection of cardboard on the porch of Iglesia Sta Maria, doing odd jobs til the weather breaks and he and his dog will move on. He spends long stretches in O Cebreiro, begging coins at the church door and hanging out by the fireplace at Casa Valina.
I have not seen Antonio for a while, I wonder if he's finally found a job he likes, or maybe he's dead. He is Portuguese, he looks more pale and sounds more breathless and has fewer teeth every time he stops here. We are part of his route, we see him about once a year. He knows where the Caritas charity clothing shops are, so he's always got fresh clothing. He wheedles the stuff he needs, he can be very manipulative. He's been on the road for at least eight years, and like Julian finds a place to winter, sometimes with a job attached. Antonio walks to fulfill a vow he made to his dying wife. Or something.
Frederic is another wanderer, he is French, just a little mentally handicapped. He has a childlike sweetness to his character, he is helpful with heavy work. Just don't let him near alcohol.
Julian has a home, at least the right to a room in the family home. He chooses to live on the road.
Antonio is homeless. The Guardia call him a bum, but they leave him alone.
Frederic lives in a L'Arche-type community in France part of the year, and walks the Way in summer.
There are three different guys who match the photo posted -- the dress-up pilgrims. One of them, Enrique, is an octogenarian pilgrim who's walked at least one camino per year since the 80s. He has a home, but loves being out on the Way. He is very devout, doesn't drink or smoke, but he'll keep you up all night playing cards.
There's another, younger model who hands out photos of himself staring whistfully into the distance. He sometimes walks with a dog or a donkey. He makes leather bracelets to sell, and is not adverse to sleeping rough. He is harmless. He calls himself a Camino Legend.
And was yet another robe-wearer who was a perfect rascal, posed for pictures in the towns around and within Santiago, cadged whatever alcohol he could find, then would chase pilgs down the street telling them they were not authentic! He died a couple of years ago, and is now revered as a loveable, cuddly Camino Legend!
All the dress-up pilgrims have homes; you don't see them walking in Winter. The winter walkers are either hardcore pilgrims or migrant workers or sometimes people down on their luck, walking home or to some job prospect... with the occasional Nordic athlete keeping in shape.
 

DwainS

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances(2020)
If EU visit limits were not imposed upon Canadian citizens, I would happily walk on the Camino routes for a couple of years straight. :)
Thats funny because last year I mentioned to some fellow workers that when I retire in a couple years I could walk non stop on the camino cheaper than living here in Victoria. They just laughed and said I would like to see that. But I forgot about the time limits you can stay in Europe on a vacation.
 

DreamHiker2

DreamHiker2
Year of past OR future Camino
2022
My hubby and I often say how wonderful it would be to walk as many routes as we could in a 12 month period.... not sure if it would be doable for me now as I just found out I have painful bone degeneration in my spine but I am not giving up as medical advances nowadays might be able to help me to continue walking with a backpack (fingers crossed)
 

PlutseligPilegrim

Rota Vicentina, fisherman’s trail, is sweet...
Year of past OR future Camino
St Olav’s way Novgorod - Åbo
- Stiklestad - Nidaros (2019)
Via del a plata from Cadiz (2019)
I realize this probably isn't a frequently asked question, but I don't know where else to put this post.

I recently heard reference to year-round pilgrims and I'm curious about them. It's not something I can imagine for myself but I am intrigued by those who have. I'm hoping some of you have met such an individual, had an opportunity to talk with them and are willing to share the experience. Or who knows, perhaps you are one of these pilgrims.

What was their motivation for a life (or at least years) of pilgrimage? Were they atoning for something? Were they searching for something? Were they homeless and finding life on the Camino an easier way of getting by in life? Did they have a circuit they tended to follow to account for the seasons?

Thank you and buen camino.
Here’s one happy and in good health. It was a privilege meeting him

Everyone I’ve met has had different backgrounds but I think it’s a hard life some years down the line. By choice is one thing....beeing forced is a whole different specter of complexity....Unfortunately......

 
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances(2006) Portugues(2013)
San Salvador (2017) Ingles (2019)
I am a bit gullible. The first one I met arrived at the albergue where I was doing hospitalera duty. I saw him coming from the ‘other’ direction and presumed he was heading back from Santiago. I congratulated him, but was cut short by his scowl. I retired and left him to the 2 hospitaleros who were really in charge. They had recognised his type. I had no problem actually, as I assumed he had his reasons. He did have on the best of stuff, so when pilgrims return in force, be sure to keep leaving quality unwanted items of clothing in the box! The next one I recall was also walking towards us, en route for Roncesvalles. He was dressed as a mendicant Franciscan. He had the misfortune to arrive the very day there was a convention of sorts in the garden, where there were more than a few genuine Franciscans, though not dressed as such! He moved swiftly through the fair... There was a third, from France, but like the first one, he was not keen to talk.
I guess it is a fairly safe environment for those who are gentlemen of the road. I have not come across any women who seem to be perpetual pilgrims. It is not surprising when you think about it, as a way to live in your own bubble. It must call for a degree of resilience. There is room for all sorts at the party.
 
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C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
2021
I have just deleted thirteen (13) posts. The series started with an off-topic personal chat and proceeded from there with some well-worn jokes about marriage. An attempt was made to stop the off-topic jokes, but one participant got feelings hurt. Another member was offended by the humour. I had no choice but to delete thirteen (13) posts. Please, everyone, do not get your knickers in a knot about over-moderation. Feel free to PM me if you think some other action would have been better.

Respect the fact that we need to behave like adults in a room with many people from different backgrounds, with different senses of humour and different sensitivities. End of rant.
 

OZAJ

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Mozarabe/VdlP/Sanabres (2008) Norte (2009) Vezelay/Frances/Salvador/Primitivo (2010) etc.
On the Voie de Vezelay. I met a Belgian man, 40ish who was on his way back to Belgium, having been on various camino routes for I think 3 years. He had been bitten by a snake whilst sleeping rough and was quite demented, but not by any means dangerous.

The longest I have walked was Rome to Santiago then Santander for a ferry to England, then a bit more in England. I should have stopped in Santiago.
 

PlutseligPilegrim

Rota Vicentina, fisherman’s trail, is sweet...
Year of past OR future Camino
St Olav’s way Novgorod - Åbo
- Stiklestad - Nidaros (2019)
Via del a plata from Cadiz (2019)
I am a bit gullible. The first one I met arrived at the albergue where I was doing hospitalera duty. I saw him coming from the ‘other’ direction and presumed he was heading back from Santiago. I congratulated him, but was cut short by his scowl. I retired and left him to the 2 hospitaleros who were really in charge. They had recognised his type. I had no problem actually, as I assumed he had his reasons. He did have on the best of stuff, so when pilgrims return in force, be sure to keep leaving quality unwanted items of clothing in the box! The next one I recall was also walking towards us, en route for Roncesvalles. He was dressed as a mendicant Franciscan. He had the misfortune to arrive the very day there was a convention of sorts in the garden, where there were more than a few genuine Franciscans, though not dressed as such! He moved swiftly through the fair... There was a third, from France, but like the first one, he was not keen to talk.
I guess it is a fairly safe environment for those who are gentlemen of the road. I have not come across any women who seem to be perpetual pilgrims. It is not surprising when you think about it, as a way to live in your own bubble. It must call for a degree of resilience. There is room for all sorts at the party.
That’s a keeper....

“Gentlemen on the road”
 

peregrino_tom

Member
Year of past OR future Camino
.
On my first camino (Frances 2008) at the end of November in Astorga I met a very striking Dutch woman, about 6ft tall (mid-40s?) very blonde and dressed in black, with a pink scarf. She didn't look like a pilgrim at all, but someone who was just about to jump in a taxi to go to a gallery opening or private viewing.
She had rented out her flat in Amsterdam on a long term basis and had been walking the caminos almost continuously for a few years. She was also involved in a prisoners' justice charity somewhere in the far east and was occasionally taking time out from the camino to go over there and support various individuals at critical points. But otherwise she was walking 1000s of kilometres a year on the camino. She had a small/meduim camino pack (black of course) and apparently needed to carry few possessions in order to maintain this peripatetic life.
As an excited newbie I had a stream of questions for her about the camino. And she obliged with descriptions and stories about the people along the way she knew or had anecdotes about, such as Thomas at Manjarin and (Casa Miguel) where she had been one of the first people to live there when he opened his house in Finisterre after the oil spillage disaster. She took my Brierley and marked various camino-profundo places to stay or, crossing the (invisible) line into the quirky/too-weird-for-me side of the camino, the houses/communes belonging to various groups, sects or distant branches of established religions etc
On this camino she'd come up the Portugues and was now going east on the Frances, so we only met for one long evening.
In hindsight our meeting seems not dissimilar to some of the anecdotes she herself had told me about the people she'd met. In the intervening years I've not seen her or heard about her from other pilgrims. I imagine that our corner of Europe ultimately proved too small and she walked off it into other realms. But who knows?
 
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Camino Chrissy

Take one step forward...then keep on walking..
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 2015;
Norte/Primitivo 2016;
Frances 2017;
Le Puy 2018;
Portuguese/FishermanTr. 2019
She had a small/meduim camino pack (black of course) and apparently needed to carry few possessions in order to maintain this peripatetic life.
What an unusual and fascinating recount of your memory, particularly as it's about a rather well dressed woman. I enjoy learning new words (many come from the forum) and "peripatetic" is a good one and relates well to your story.
 

Arn

Veteran Member
What an unusual and fascinating recount of your memory, particularly as it's about a rather well dressed woman. I enjoy learning new words (many come from the forum) and "peripatetic" is a good one and relates well to your story.
@Camino Chrissy, this IS a great word to know and use. Many words need no explanation, nor thought beyond “OK, I get it!” Words like pilgrim, wanderer, hobo serve up an immediate image, while peripatetic requires, if not deep thought, at least the curiosity to search it up.
My pack has three patches on it: one the Forum, one (deleted) and one the Appalachian Trail (with 2,000 miler rocker).
Many times on Caminho Portuguese a pilgrim, or local, will recognize at least one of the three, though seldom connect all three together. As it happens, while staying with Casa Dona Fernanda for two days, I became the unofficial hospitalarios as Jacinto and Dona Fernanda were elsewhere.
The entrance to the casa can easily be missed due to the abundance of foliage and the small sign announcing Lugar do Corgo. This tunnel of bushes and trees masks the approach of new arrivals. Some pilgrims only stop for a breather, or to purchase a glass of wine produced on the family plot, a bottle of cerveja, or cool fresh water; all enjoyed under a vine covered latticework.
Well armed with a bottle of vinho, I hear the approach of “something” accompanied by the tinkling of bells. Expecting an animal to emerge from the aforementioned tunnel, I move my pilgrim staff closer.
To a chorus of minor expletives, a man emerges, dressed in monks cowl and tunic. Preceding him, as the slight breeze came from behind him, is a stench to curl your toes. “Obrigado! Obrigado! Please, just a bit of water.
As I already have the vinho open, I offer him that in stead.
“Oh, no. And then, more emphatically, NO! Water only! Water only!
He is carrying a black sack, more in keeping with a religious mendicant than the usually well-appointed Caminho Pilgrim.
Moments later, Jacinto arrives and coming over introduces himself and asks if we would like lunch. Say, pork chops with potatoes and greens.
Once again, “Obrigado! Obrigado! Just water and a crust of bread. Yes, a crust of bread.”
By now, the stench is overwhelming and I suggest he avail himself of the nearby bunk house shower before the food arrives.
Looking me straight in the eye, and glancing at my pack he says, in a decidedly non-mendicant rant, and perfect English. “You Americans think you rule the world. And, you have no perception of what it means to be cast aside. You think the Caminho is all about walking a few miles as repentance for perceived sins, or worse, a cheap vacation. I walk and walk, begging a crust of bread, a cup of water.”
Arriving with a plate of chops, and hardly before it settles on the table, three chops hit the plate in front of my accuser. He did only drink water. And, before departing, took a shower. No thanks. No doacoes. His only sound the tinkling of bells.
 
Last edited:

Owen Duguay

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
2016 Le Puy to SJPP to Santiago de Compostelle to Finisterre. Environ 1700 km.
I walked from Le Puy to Finistere in 2016. I met Gunther several times. He is German I think an older person. Once he was sleeping in a bus shelter along the road. He would read the Bible every day. I asked him why he walks year round on the Camino . He answered that he had given his life to Jesus. I asked how he lived. He said his son gives him a bit of money. One thing for sure he was happy and lived a simple and honest life. Bye for now.
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Year of past OR future Camino
Many, various, and continuing.
A lot of full-time pilgrims are also volunteer hospitaleros. They stay as long as they can and then move on. We have had a few long-term hospi-pilgrims here at hour house for months at a time, some of them have wintertime gigs, like one German guy who stays at Rates in Portugal thru the winter, and walks the rest of the year. And some of you of course know Ollie...
 

Lance Chambers

Lance Chambers
Year of past OR future Camino
Sarria (2015), SJPdP (2016), Burgos (2017), SJPdP (2018), Burgos (2019), SJPdP (2020?).
I personally like the idea of walking continuously (a few hours/kms a day) on the Camino. Sadly, although I believe I could accomplish the adventure, being an American, there is a limit on the number of continuous days I can be in the EU. I thought about a visa for cultural/religious reasons, but you must show accommodations (don't think an albergue counts) or the specific event and location.

It may be possible to get a special extended visa for the Camino. Maybe contact the Spanish embassy in the US?
 
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camino.ninja

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances 5 6,16,17,18,19,20
Primiti+Salvador 19
Portug. 17,18,20
Catalan 17
Norte 17
Plata 18
I realize this probably isn't a frequently asked question, but I don't know where else to put this post.

I recently heard reference to year-round pilgrims and I'm curious about them. It's not something I can imagine for myself but I am intrigued by those who have. I'm hoping some of you have met such an individual, had an opportunity to talk with them and are willing to share the experience. Or who knows, perhaps you are one of these pilgrims.

What was their motivation for a life (or at least years) of pilgrimage? Were they atoning for something? Were they searching for something? Were they homeless and finding life on the Camino an easier way of getting by in life? Did they have a circuit they tended to follow to account for the seasons?

Thank you and buen camino.

i guess I’m one of those. Been walking for 4 years. And the answer to why is pretty simple. I like walking. Just like all other pilgrim.

I only know a small handful of people doing it and none of those are mentioned here. There’s a lot of homeless people on the caminos but they are not walking full time. And there’s some who does multiple caminos a year. And then almost none walking year round.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances (2017); Camino a Muxia (2017)
Thank you to all who responded to my question with your tales about year-round pilgrims. From them I get the sense that year-round pilgrims walk for many of the same reasons we more seasonal, "part-time" pilgrims walk. The possibilities for reasons are endless. Thanks again. Buen Camino.
 

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