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The Camino de Santiago is a true experience of a lifetime and one which I feel blessed to have experienced myself. However, nothing is perfect and here are the 11 things that made me go “Urghh!” on the Camino Francés-French Way:
Sure, there are the shell and arrow markers on the Camino but I also was able to judge which path to take by following the trash trail carelessly thrown on the ground by previous pilgrims walking the route. Save your trash and throw it away responsibly into a bin!
2. The Spanish 100 kilometer crew.
I walked my Camino in the summer and this is when A LOT of Spanish “pilgrims” like to take a trip up north to walk the last 100km of the Camino. Why only the last 100km? Pilgrims must walk at least 100km to receive their certificate of walk completion (Compostela) and in Spain if you have the Compostela then it looks pretty good on a Resume. The last 100km to Santiago was like walking in Oxford Circus, with some “pilgrims” even sporting Gucci bags as they sauntered along the way.
3. Rude drivers.
OK, well this is a relative post because if I were driving along the Camino I’d probably experience the same emotions as the drivers do, but I walk it so I’m biased towards walkers. Sometimes the Camino levels off onto a road surface and of course you should walk on the side of the road and in the direction of oncoming traffic (safety). Whichever side you walk and however far you are from the side of the road you will inevitably have some driver angrily toot his or her horn at you to basically let you know that having you share the same patch of tarmac is a real inconvenience for them.
In this modern European age there really is no need to beg unless you have an expensive drug addiction which requires funds beyond your means. On my summer Camino I saw a few beggars who claimed to be pilgrims without money. Maybe they were. Maybe they (or some of them) were career beggars who take advantage of the pilgrim spirit and the generosity of locals. If you really have no money then please visit the church or a monastery to ask for food. You don’t need money because you can’t eat it. Please don’t beg!
I don’t think scams are necessarily a real issue on the Camino but one which I heard about and which I witnessed was of the self-acclaimed deaf women who meet pilgrims and “pilgrims” on their last 100km to Santiago and who ask for donations towards a local deaf children’s school. Apparently this is a pure scam and I also felt this when I was approached along the path by a young woman who sent inner alarm bells going when she asked for a donation. Donate to real charities and causes but don’t let anyone scam you out of money which will be spent on anything but the charity or cause you might have been convinced to part your money for.
6. Pilgrim “Rock Stars”.
No matter where you have walked from or how many times you have walked the Camino, there will always be the odd pilgrim here and there who steps forth into the conversation with his or her own list of pilgrim achievements. Don’t boast on the Camino! It’s bad karma! If you walked from Hong Kong to Santiago with no money and with a donkey in tow then good for you, but don’t act like it’s the cherry on the cake for humanity as a whole. Learn to be humble in your achievements. There are no Pilgrim rock stars, but we are all pilgrim stars.
Along the Camino the food can sometimes get pretty bland and lacking in quality ingredients. At first I thought it was just a representation of North Spanish food, but I soon learned that actually the further away you walk from the Camino the better and more authentic the food gets, and the food can be fantastic.
8. Carry your rucksack.
Please don’t pack to many things into your rucksack and then decide that you just gotta pay for a taxi to drive your things to the final destination for that day while you walk sans sac. Of course, you can walk the Camino as you want but please if you bring a bag then either throw it away or carry it the whole way yourself. Paying a taxi to take it is just lame and encourages more road traffic on the Camino.
Hell, I know there ain’t no cure for this one but I can write that every time I stayed in an albergue without fail there would be someone snoring loudly at night. I also snore. Why doesn’t someone somewhere develop an anti-snoring pill? Come on scientists! Gracias 🙂
10. The little guy with the little legs…
…who took my rucksack from under my head, with all by belongings in, while I slept outside in that bus shelter. At the time I was very philosophical and understanding about losing my passport, ipad, all my clothes, etc., but seeing the hassle I have had to go through recently to renew my British passport from abroad I hope you have received your bad karma if not already then sometime close in the near future.
11. Coming back.
I wish my Summer Camino had lasted forever.
>>> What things made you go “urghh!” on your Camino?
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