Monday, 27 December 2010

Videos and slideshows

Recently on one of the pilgrim forums someone asked where they could get slideshows or pictures of the Camino routes to show their boss so he would be persuaded to give them time off to walk! I realised I needed to bring mine together in one category. Here is a selection:

Thursday, 23 December 2010

The Sign

A few times on the Camino I’ve wondered whether or not I was walking in the right direction. When this happens on the routes all we have to do is look for a sign, a yellow arrow, to show us the way to go. The past couple of weeks have been a bit like that for me.
I shared with you in this very public forum that I’d decided to pack up and just set out walking to see where it took me. I felt good about the decision and equally good about announcing it. Then the doubts started: Will I have enough money? Will I rent out my home or sell it? If I rent it how much will I get and will the tenants ruin the place? What if I do all of this and get ill? How will I get a bank account in Spain and a mobile telephone? Nagging thoughts and a rising anxiety that seemed to attach itself to everything. The ground floor apartment in my building was flooded when a pipe broke in the apartment above. “Oh my God” I thought, “what if this happens to me when I am away?” I woke up in the middle of the night worrying about everything. “Do I have enough insurance?” “Do I have enough Spanish?” “What if something happens to one of my daughters and they can’t find me on Camino?” “What if I get robbed, or injured or… or …”

I started to doubt the entire enterprise. “Do you really want your life to go in this direction?” The question got larger and larger. Then like the star which appeared in the East or the yellow arrow on the tree when you think you are lost, a Camino sign appeared as if from nowhere…here is the story:

Some time ago an e mail popped into my inbox from Pietro. He explained that he was a pilgrim and had travelled the Camino Inglés using my Guide. Here is what he wrote:

“Dear Mr Walker,
I obtained your guide for the Il Camino Ingles via the Confraternity website and it was excellent.
I did Il Camino in September 2009 as part of my BA Photography degree at the University of Portsmouth.
I produced an A4 size book for one of my project and finished with a BA First Class with Honours in Photography.
Within some of my text I would have probably used similar wording from your guide and in my forward I acknowledge this, hopefully you do not mind?
Would love to talk to you in any event if you could e-mail me your telephone number I would then ring you.
Thank you for the guide, without it my pilgrimage would have been a lot harder.”
I wrote back to him saying I didn’t mind in the least what he did with extracts of the Guide and that started an exchange of correspondence. It was clear that as well as being a photographic project, his Camino had had a profound effect. He sent me a CD of his Camino Photographs. They are excellent. I’ve cheekily posted one or two of them in this blog. Then the other day, at the height of my doubting about packing up and leaving the postman brought me a copy of Pietro’s book. It is delightful and I leafed through the photographs enjoying them once more.

Then I was drawn to the Introduction and as I read the words I could not believe what I was seeing. Here is what it says:
“This book is a celebration of my Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela which started as my project for my BA (Hons) Photography. However it developed into a lifetime experience.
Do we sometimes receive a sign? I got a push in the right directions one morning whilst collecting the Church Hymn Books at Sunday Mass. I had racked my brains for a topic for the project for my degree with little inspiration. Suddenly there, inside the hymn book, I found overlooked copies of the previous two weeks’ Sunday Bulletin containing an article on “The Pilgrim Way to Santiago de Compostela.”
Being a photographer there was even a picture of the Sunday Bulletin in question. I stared at it. I was astonished.
To explain. Every week thousands of copies of the Sunday Bulletin are produced by Redemptorist Publications and sold to parishes all over the United Kingdom. They have stories and articles on one side and the local church prints their information on the other side. Some three years ago one of the priests in the parish where I play the organ in London was appointed the Director of Redemptorist Publications, a highly successful company. One day he said to me, “I’m looking for ideas for the summer series and I thought about “Pilgrimage”, why don’t you write a few articles for us?” “And,” he added, “We pay good money for all contributions.” So I produced a couple about Santiago and they asked for more which I supplied, the fees going to the Confraternity of St James. Then they asked for another entire series about pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Before my first pilgrimage the most I had ever written were business reports to Boards of Directors. This was much more enjoyable and from that Rebekah Scott suggested I start this blog.

It was so long ago I’d forgotten about it until I was looking at my own words reproduced in Pietro’s book. Pilgrims encouraging and inspiring other pilgrims. How could I have doubted that the Pilgrim World is for me and that I was going in the right direction?
So I have stopped writing down my finances over and over again hoping that they will look different every time I do it. I’m lucky I have enough to live on if I don’t buy a Ferrari. My plan is in place. The housing market remains depressed so I am going to lease my house. I am going to resign my remaining work responsibilities and just after Easter will walk the Camino Levante from Valencia. I do not intend to return to live permanently in the United Kingdom.
I am open to all possibilities on the Way. Some readers have written with helpful encouragement…” a priest is converting his home to an albergue on the Via de la Plata,” “ The church of San Francisco in Santiago has no organist”, “Someone needs to write a Guide in English to the Coastal Route in Portugal.”
I have some ideas of my own. I’ve been talking with my friend in Gibraltar about a new circular pilgrimage route unconnected with Santiago in the South of the Peninsula. I’ve agreed with him that if some of his fellow Gibraltarians want to develop this route I’ll help them.
I also think that English speaking Pilgrims in Santiago need a place to give them information and assistance … then there are the families with children who walk the Camino and have to stand for hours in the queue at the Pilgrims’ Office … then there are the people in wheel chairs who can’t get up the stairs. Maybe with a little backing in Santiago the Confraternity of St James will open a Welcome Centre to help all of these groups. Hey I could be the first ground crew to get it going.
Who knows? One thing I am now certain of is that in the 7 or 8 weeks it will take me to reach Santiago from Valencia the steps beyond will be revealed. I’ll let you know.

So friends another year comes to a close. I am full of hope for the year which comes. I pray that all of you will have a peaceful Christmas and that 2011 brings you health, prosperity and more steps on the Way to Santiago.

I’m off to Sevilla for New Year – I’ll report to you when I return!

Thursday, 9 December 2010


I haven’t written to you for a while. I’m afraid I have been preoccupied with other things. A few weeks ago I lost a friend and it has had quite an effect on me. I've been thinking a lot about the nature of friendship and the place that friends have in my life. I’ve also been remembering the people that I've met through the pilgrimage routes to Santiago, a few of whom I suspect will be life-long friends.

When to the sessions of sweet silent thought
I summon up remembrance of things past,
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought,
And with old woes new wail my dear time's waste:
Then can I drown an eye, unused to flow,
For precious friends hid in death's dateless night,
And weep afresh love's long since cancell'd woe,
And moan the expense of many a vanish'd sight:
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone,
And heavily from woe to woe tell o'er
The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan,
Which I new pay as if not paid before.
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restored and sorrows end.
William Shakespeare Sonnet 30 

I don’t make friends easily and I don’t go out looking for friends. I understand what people mean when they say that they are looking forward to their pilgrimage “because of all the wonderful friends they will make along the way” but my first choice would usually be to walk one of the less travelled routes where meeting other pilgrims is the exception rather than the rule. Of course it is great to meet other people at the end of a day’s walking; to have dinner and chat about the adventure. However I rarely come home with a pocketful of email addresses.  I suppose I am a person with a very few really good intimate friends and a larger network of acquaintances.  I could count the close friends on one hand probably. They are the people who I might not see for a considerable time but when we get together it is as if we have never been apart. They are the people who have no expectations of me save that I will just be myself.  They are the people who dare to laugh at me and when they do I usually join in. They are the people with whom a friendship is an adventure because we are prepared to share together the triumphs and the real tragedies that occur in all of our lives. I think most of all we are friends because we won’t ever demand anything of each other save our friendship. 

Remembering, how we two walked
The roads to Santiago
How simple was the life we lived
How good the friends, how clear the way
The feelings deep, the troubles halved
A milestone on the road of life,
So many miles that stay with us
Those roads to Santiago

It’s true, it changed so many things
It made us care in different ways,
We shared that life, it made us new
Camino then, Camino now
Remembering still, how we two walked
The roads to Santiago
Roads to Santiago  Cristina and Paul Spink

In many ways the pilgrimage routes to Santiago are like friends to me now. As time goes on we are getting to know each other more closely. The routes are always there. They are full of promise and always bring something new. They expect nothing except that we walk them. They don’t even demand that we walk them to the end. Just that we start.  Increasingly, because of the Guides, people write to me when they are planning their pilgrimages. I feel privileged to have the e mail exchange with them because it is full of their excitement and questions. I get to see their plans change and develop over time until eventually the plane tickets are purchased and I send a final “Buen Camino “ email.

Sometimes I am a little concerned at the expectations they have of themselves and the Camino. I was very much like that myself. I used the programme at the web site Godesalco and worked out the stages I was going to walk on the Via de la Plata. Blisters put paid to that plan and I had to adjust to the realities of the pilgrimage. In doing so I slowed down, built stamina and began to enjoy the pace which emerged. On a few occasions in the last couple of years pilgrims have set out and I have either never heard from then again or I have received a plaintive email where they explain that they had to give up usually for a physical reason. The sense of failure from them is palpable. Yet, I don’t recognise the language of failure when it comes to pilgrimage. For me it isn’t like that: the difficulties, the illness, the injuries, the “giving up” are all part of the experience and learning the Camino brings.
Pause for reflection, Montes de Oca - Michael Krier
One winter I was on the Camino Frances and the weather was dreadful. I looked at the weather forecast and saw that there were to be three weeks of continuous rain ahead. As I walked along a rain sodden path a younger pilgrim passed me. He turned and we had a few brief words before he set off at a much faster pace than me.  The next day as I approached Villafranca de Montes de Oca, 40 or so kilometres from Burgos the rain beat down all day. I felt I was in danger of the recurrence of a serious chest infection from which I had only recently recovered. Hot and wheezy the next morning I checked the long range forecast again: rain, rain, rain. I made the decision to take a bus to Burgos, on to Madrid and then home. Luckily I only had an hour to wait and the people in the bar directed me to the third lamppost past the church which was the bus stop. I stowed my rucksack with the rest of the luggage when the bus arrived and got on. No sooner had I sat down, after removing my hat and rain gear when I turned to see who was tapping my shoulder. It was the young man who had passed my on the path a day or so before. “This is too much” he gestured out the window to the storm we were driving through.  This was Daniel from Malaga who had always wanted to walk to Santiago. We then went on to have a long conversation about pilgrimage, life, politics, God, walking…and when we might be back on the route when it was drier.

I hadn’t seen my friend who died for some time. Quite a long time in fact. As it turned out we ended up living in different parts of the country. I bumped into him earlier in the year at Heathrow Airport. I was leaving as he was arriving. We only had a few minutes together. We both crammed the events of the intervening time into those minutes and of course we promised to be in touch soon. A ruptured aneurysm in his brain removed that option for both of us. He was years younger than me and this was a shock. But in the sadness there is much to celebrate. His short life was well lived. Full of hilarity and pathos his professional success only endeared him more to people he knew. His passing is a lesson.
So, over the next few months I’m putting plans in place to make a big change marked by a big pilgrimage. The notion has been in the air for some time. I now have the courage to do it. I think.

Can I give up everything and just walk a path and see where it takes me? I’ll let you know.   

Friday, 26 November 2010

The Holy Year comes to an end

The Holy Year soon enters its final month.  To mark the end of this last Holy Year until 2021, the next time the feast of St James, 25th July falls on a Sunday,  the Confraternity of St James organised a Thanksgiving Service last Sunday. It was well attended including a senior representative of the Spanish Embassy in London who read a passage from scripture. Colin Jones, the Chairman of the CSJ led the service and the Confraternity choir sang anthems from the Codex Calixtinus and led the singing. The Hymn to the Apostle, better known as the “Botafumerio music”, was played and sung as those who attended re-enacted the scene in Santiago by sprinkling grains of incense on charcoal.
 The service was to have also been attended by Don Jenaro the Canon in charge of Pilgrimages at the Cathedral in Santiago but ill health prevented him from being there. However he sent a special message:

Greetings to all members of the Confraternity of St James from Don Jenaro Cebrián, Canon Delegate of Pilgrimages, the Cathedral Church of Santiago de Compostela, given this day of 21 November in the year Our Lord 2010.

My dear members of the Confraternity,
I write to you from the Tomb of The Apostle on this day of great celebration. You have joined together to praise God and to celebrate the end of the Holy Year 2010. I am very sorry that I cannot be with you. In this pilgrimage of life we encounter many challenges. The present challenge I face with my health has prevented my physical presence with you … but please know that you are in my thoughts today and you will always be in my prayers.
You meet today on the Feast of Christ the King, Cristo El Rey. This is the end of the Church’s year. Advent follows, then Christmas with all of the joy that celebrations of the Incarnation of our Saviour brings. Today however is not the end of this special year in Santiago. The Holy Year continues until on the last day of the year when the Holy Door is closed again, this time for another 11 years until the year of 2021 when the Feast of Santiago again falls on a Sunday.
This has been a great year of celebration in Santiago. Over 260,000 pilgrims will have journeyed to the Tomb of the Saint by foot, by bicycle or on horseback. In September, we were delighted to welcome in Santiago members of your own group. In recent days we were humbled to receive the Holy Father himself when he made pilgrimage to Compostela. In addition to the walking pilgrims many millions have come by bus and train and aeroplane to pray in our Cathedral … to walk through the Holy Door and to hug St James. Whilst people have arrived by different means, all pilgrims are united in a common expression of hope and prayer for a better world. This is at the heart of pilgrimage. Pilgrims set off from all different places but walk the same road to the same holy place. It is the experience of that journey in which pilgrims come to know other pilgrims, come to discover Spain and come to encounter God.
Today I hope that you also give thanks, as do we in Compostela, for the magnificent work of the Confraternity of St James. Supporting pilgrims, providing information and resources and, of course, your two albergues at Rabanal and Miraz. These facilities for pilgrims have been provided through your own efforts to raise funds and a continuous stream of volunteer hospitaleros. The albergues on the routes and the hospitaleros who give a Christ-like welcome to weary pilgrims are the spine of the Camino.
And so, dear members of the Confraternity of St James, I want to address each one of you individually, particularly those who have returned from a pilgrimage this year. I want to invite you to look deep into your hearts on this auspicious day. For one moment I ask you to remember the gifts of pilgrimage … the hands of friendship you were offered, the bowls of food, the tears you shed, and the laughter too, the effort you put into your pilgrimage and the challenges you overcame. I ask you to remember those moments of intimacy when you were drawn close to a fellow pilgrim, drawn to the beauty of the countryside of Spain, drawn to the solitude of your own company. In each of these aspects you were drawn to God. Today, above all, I ask you to remember the joy of arriving at our Cathedral, kneeling at the tomb of the Saint, the pilgrims’ Mass, the Botafumeiro, and getting your Compostela.
I invite you now to remember the prayers you said in the depths of your heart and to make these same prayers again.
My dear friends … the Holy Year will end, but your pilgrimage will never end. Continue it. As you go forward in your lives celebrate Santiago, our Patron Saint, celebrate the Confraternity of St James and all of its good works … but, above all, praise our Lord Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour. Go forward in your lives with your pilgrimages continuing every single day and when you falter just keep on walking.
Viva Santiago!  

In true pilgrimage fashion everyone attending obtained the sello of the church on their Commemorative Orders of Service before they left. 

After the service 50 members attended lunch at La Terazza to raise funds for the extension to the albergue at Miraz - £500 was raised. Well done everyone.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

English breakfast

I love being in Spain and I particularly like to walk the routes less travelled such as the Camino Inglés. I can understand the attraction of the busy Camino Francés but these days perhaps it is a little too commercialised including cafés advertising English Breakfasts as if the medieval pilgrimage route was on the Costa del Sol or the South Coast of England. I prefer a quiet way with homemade Spanish food in the evenings. So when I saw a week free in my diary and a flight to Santiago for £36 I couldn’t resist.
But I had some choices to make: Should I walk the Camino Inglés to up-date the Guide book ready for next year? In the time available should I walk from A Coruña in 4 days or Ferrol in 5 days? Or should I stay in Santiago and help out in the Pilgrims’ Office with the surge of pilgrims expected for the Pope’s recent visit. Two e mails made up my mind. First was a prescient note from Mari in the Office saying that numbers in the start of the week leading up to the Pope’s visit were half that of the previous week. Pilgrim numbers were dwindling. Secondly I got a note from a pilgrim who had walked the route from A Coruña and had got “horribly lost”. Since with this route and the Guide this is nearly impossible the decision was taken – off to A Coruña.
I like A Coruña a lot. It is the seaside resort of choice for Spanish people and you will rarely hear an English voice. It is the more authentic starting point for the Camino Inglés with records showing that pilgrims from Northern Europe would arrive there by boat for the relatively short walk of 75 kms or so to Santiago. However since it doesn’t meet the 100 kms requirement to qualify modern pilgrims for a Compostela a second branch of the route was designated from Ferrol which is approximately 118 kms from Santiago. The route from A Coruña is very straightforward, nowadays well waymarked, and passes through beautiful hamlets and miles of pastoral countryside. The first Guide in English to this route had been produced by a member of the CSJ. There were no arrows or signs and simply using the main churches and common sense they had discerned the route medieval pilgrims might have taken. They described this in the Guide and when I came along a few years later I walked “their route” and up dated the directions and information. Having spent two days exploring what could have caused the pilgrim's confusion I discovered that at some point either the local authority or local Amigos had waymarked a route which in parts is substantially different for a few kilometres. I’m pleased to say it is now sorted out and the new version of the Guide will avoid any confusion. Promise.
Because pilgrims can’t get a Compostela for walking the route from A Coruña it isn’t known how many start there as the numbers are not registered. Certainly in the previous times I have walked that arm of the route I haven’t met any other pilgrims and I have been struck that local people didn’t really know much about it. But the Camino Inglés has been growing in popularity over the last few years and here are the numbers of pilgrims who walked from Ferrol:
2000 - 98, 2001 - 131, 2002  - 181, 2003 -  260, 2004  - 3,096 (Holy Year) 2005 - 651, 2006  - 804, 2007 - 1,085, 2008 - 1,451, 2009 - 1793,  2010 - so far this year - 6,000 (Holy Year)
I set off not knowing whether more pilgrims had left from A Coruña than before but I noticed a difference as soon as I started walking. One or two people even in the city smiled as I went past with my rucksack. A van driver at traffic lights sounded his horn and waved “buen camino”. The route goes past the beautiful Parish Church of Sigras with an historic pilgrim hospital and is then out in open countryside. Passing a little cottage a man dressed in overalls emerged from the garage adjacent. He responded to my greeting with, “Hola, de donde es usted?” “Soy de Escocia” I replied in Spanish. He continued in broken English, “but if you are Scottish why are you walking the English Way?” He asked laughing at his own joke. This was Guillermo who 20 years ago lived in Inverness in the North of Scotland learning welding. “near Loch Ness, but I didn’t see the monster” he laughed again. He confirmed there had been many pilgrims passing his garden gate this year and after a little wished me “buen viaje”.
Apart from his warmth there were other clues that the route is more popular. The waymarking has significantly improved and the tradition of passing pilgrims placing a stone on top of the waymark was more physical evidence that told me that pilgrims have indeed been on the route. There was none of this four years ago when I first walked. In a bar the owner gave me coffee and asked if I needed anything to eat. “Are you walking to meet the Pope?” she enquired. I explained that I was walking to avoid the crowds going to Santiago to see the Pope. She lamented the effects of the economic crisis in Spain on small rural communities but she said that this year in particular there had been a lot of passing trade from pilgrims. Further on I encountered two signs a few kilometres apart which I hadn’t seen before. The first was offering to buy Gold from the villagers of Galicia. I think this is a powerful symptom of the recession. No less so but perhaps a more attractive response further along the route was a new sign advertising “Horses to rent”.
Signs and notices are often very good indicators of what is going on in places and along this route local people could not fail to see the increase number of Camino signs and yellow arrows. Sadly, I also saw the beginnings of the “DO NOT” approach which I hate on the very popular Camino Frances. Here is an example. Rather than saying “Pilgrims if your are wet, please come in and shelter” the sign says “Pilgrims, don’t come in if you have wet ponchos and rucksacks”. The route becoming more popular has its downside.
I was thinking about all of this when José, the shepherd appeared from behind a hedge. It was one of these conversations when total strangers talk as if they have known each other for years. His English was excellent and José explained that he had worked all over England as a waiter for almost 30 years when he had been forced to return to the village in Galicia where he was born to look after ailing parents. “They are both dead now” he said, “it is just me. I have the house and a pension from England”. We chatted for a while. “José, what do you make of the pilgrims?” I asked. “Without the pilgrims who do I talk to? He asked. “The sheep?
I arrived in Hospital de Bruma in the company of two lassies from Madrid who had walked from Ferrol. I had a fond reunion with Carmen and Benino, the wonderful hospitalera and her husband. For those not sleeping in the albergue or who want food Benino has painted blue arrows showing the short walk to Meson do Vento and my hostal of choice, the highly recommended O Meson Novo. There I was greeted warmly. “El Señor de la guía esta aquí” I heard them say. This is a family run roadside bar and hostal which has rooms which are not only half the price of the hotel across the road but are also double the quality. When I first arrived at the O Meson Novo 4 years ago I asked if they provided food. They looked glum. “We really don’t do meals but we could do sandwiches or a ración for you” they said. In fact they produced a splendid meal of delicious boiled ham, french fries and fresh salad. The following year a couple of us arrived cold and hungry. “Do you have any soup to start with?” I enquired. “I may have a packet in the kitchen, would that be alright?” The lady was hesistant. When it was served she had obviously added things like pieces of real chicken. Fabulous. This time I sensed a difference. I checked in and showered. It had been a long day. When I got downstairs the lady said, “now sir, what do you feel like eating…just ask and I will prepare it?” What a difference. “Have you had many pilgrims here since I saw you last?” I asked. “Lots”, said Don Antonio who fetched his wife and they spoke in the English they had learned 25 years ago when they worked in Leeds, “oh yes, a busy year, we like the pilgrims, many of them have your guide, we try to help them if they have problems, if they need to make phone calls or if they need informations.” Then with chests swelling with pride they announced “and we can now do English Breakfasts if you wish, – bacon, sausages, tomatoes, fried eggs, fried bread. Oh yes, the English Breakfasts, we do them here.”

Something is happening on the Camino Inglés.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Silent smiles

There is a documentary programme on the BBC at the moment called the Big Silence. It is about a group of people who join a silent retreat and their search for the things they think are missing from their lives. One has “everything” but not contentment, another is searching for faith in God and another “just feels there is something missing”. The programme is led by Abbot Christopher, a Benedictine monk who wants to show them the value of silent meditation as a way of discerning the way forward in their lives. The series of programmes charts their journeys individually and together. We see the tears and laughter, people who were strangers forming close bonds and deep personal moments of realisation. As I have watched this programme I’ve found myself saying again, and again, but that’s what walking the Camino is like.
Abbot Christopher describes what happens when people are silent. He says that they eventually focus on themselves and their own lives. They begin to realise that often their motives are not as good as they would like to think, they may remember times when they were hurt and then feel the pain of remembering times they hurt other people. Through these memories relived in the silence, says the Abbot, people face the truth inside themselves. They encounter God.

I’ve paraphrased what he said but as I heard his words I was taken back to walking the Camino. The times when tears sprang easily to my eyes or I felt a flash of long forgotten anger and resentment I thought had gone away. Often I had memories of antics and escapades which made me chuckle and reminiscences of the past which made me smile.
One of these was remembering when I left home for the first time. “Left home” is too gentle a description. There was an almighty argument with my parents and I packed my bags and stormed out. Well, I packed a couple of plastic bags and stormed out. Those who also have had fiery tempers will remember that the anger can go as quickly as it erupted. So it was I found myself on a cold night determined not to go back home but with no idea of what I was going to do. I could think of only one solution. I’d go and stay with my Aunt Susan. My father was the eldest son of a large Irish Catholic family and his sister Susan was the youngest. My father could be very strict and conservative. Aunt Susan on the other hand was … errrr…colourful and adventurous. My mother (pictured) who was always attracted to fun thought she was daring and courageous. They were both stylish and beautiful and my father worried about their friendship. In truth I could be jealous of her children. At times I thought she’d make a better mum than my own. After two bus journeys to the other end of town I knocked on her door. She took me in and gave me a bed. She understood immediately what had happened between angry, early teenager and much older parents. I basked in her sympathy. I bridled a little when she said she would phone my parents to tell them I was safe. I bridled even more when she got me up 1.5 hours earlier than usual the following morning for breakfast before she insisted that I went to school as normal. Coming back in the evening she explained that this was study time and there would be no television or supper until homework was done. Within the hour I was starving. She explained that before dinner I could wash my clothes and hang them up to dry and that she’d get me up even earlier in the morning so I could iron them.

That night in bed I took stock. My parents may not understand me, I thought, but, well, most of the time we are ok together… after school the next day I was back home. My first bid for freedom was at an end.

Of course it was years later before I realised the plot my clever Aunt Susan had hatched to make me understand the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Later in life she and I were to become firm friends and the memory of her making me do my homework and washing always raised a smile.

Aunt Susan’s funeral was today. The last of the generation is gone. She lived her 88 years to the full. A life well lived.

I will continue to think about her often and I know that when on Camino that memory will still come to mind and raise a silent smile.
I was telling a friend about the Camino and how memories just pop into my mind when I am walking. He wisely said that all we can hope for is that amongst the array of thoughts of the past we always have ones which make us smile. He wrote about one of his own. Whenever I think about it I smile to myself. Maybe it will have the same effect on you.

"Dear John

Because the adults in our family spent so much time ‘in the shop’ we usually had someone ‘over from Italy’ staying with us - cooking, cleaning, learning English, sending home some money. When I was 13 Ermenia arrived - she was 17 and beautiful like Sophia Loren - and I fell in love with her. She was vivacious - loved to talk, and though she had no English this did not deter her. She would lean out of the window and hail passers-by - when they stopped she would declare happily “Sorri - no speaka Inglese.” She discovered the phone and took to calling total strangers. I would retrieve it to hear someone say, “It’s some crazy foreigner.” After a while it became clear she wasn’t settling - that she was homesick. “People here no talk,” she said. She took to collecting jam jars compulsively - filling her room with them. Then from time to time she’d weep quietly, which made me very sad. Eventually we agreed with her mother to send her back. On the day, it fell to me to take her by taxi to the Waverley. 17 year-old girls know when 13 year-old boys fancy them. She kissed me full on the lips - my first such kiss, it stayed with me for three years. It was 1953 and Tony Bennett was top of the ‘hit parade’ with - “Stranger in Paradise”.

In 1999 I am in Italy visiting our ‘tribal homelands’ - lunching in the hotel where Sunday families gather. On the way to the toilet I am stopped by a vision - a clone of the 17 year-old Ermenia. In shock I ask the owner, “Is that girl called Ermenia?” “No,” she says, “Ermenia is her Nonna - over there.” Another shock - the girl who gave me my first kiss - is an old woman. I don’t introduce myself. She was with us less than a year - probably doesn’t remember. But the owner must have said something - on the way out she pauses - she calls me Lorenzino and smiling asks, ‘do you remember the jam jars?’ We laugh. She has many grandchildren - grabs them as they pass - recites names proudly. Everyone’s talking at once - the noise is deafening. “Has life been good Ermenia?” With a big smile, she says, “I thank God every day.” Leaving, she kisses me. I smile - “You once kissed me 47 years ago.” Her eyes flash mischief –“I know,” she says."

Thursday, 28 October 2010

What's in a name?

Looking at the figures for the pilgrims arriving in Santiago I was struck by the fact that people from every part of Spain walk the pilgrimage route.My ear is not yet attuned to their many accents and dialects but what I can recognise is when they are speaking in different languages. They say that a nation’s culture is defined by their language. That is true in Spain as in many other countries. Although Castellano is the “official” language of Spain, what we would know as “Spanish”, there are other languages in different parts of this country which has seventeen autonomous regions each with their own flag and sometimes their own language. Gallego for example is the other language of Galicia. It is like a mixture of Spanish and Portuguese. In fact those from each country understand each other perfectly. There are many “schhhhh” sounds as vowels and consonants are softened. Thus when talking about the route to Finisterre and Muxía, the latter is pronounced Mushia. When walking through Galicia I’ve met older people who have only ever spoken Gallego and whilst they can of course understand Castellano they think that it is second class and the language of “Madrid” – the capital about which there is a national suspicion.
Then there is the language of Catalan from Catalonia which comprises four provinces: Barcelona, Girona, Lleida and Tarragona. The capital city is Barcelona. Catalonia borders France and Andorra to the north, Aragon to the west, the Valencian Community to the south, and the Mediterranean Sea to the east. The official languages are Spanish, Catalan and Aranese. Catalan to my ear sounds vaguely French, less rough than Spanish and much less enthusiastically spoken. It is closely associated with Valenciá, and the languages of the Islands: Mallorquí and Menorquí for example.

It seems to me from pilgrims arriving at the office the proudest of their language and region are the people from the Pais Vasco or Vasconia – the Basque Country. The names on the credenciales look as if they have been written in a version of Greek. The region has struggled with ambitions to independence much the same as my own country Scotland and indeed when I explain where I am from their eyes often light up. “Hermanos primeros”, “first brothers” a pilgrim called us recently. The language of the Basque land is called Euskara. The main feature of this language is that whilst the others can trace their roots to Latin or Greek or for example Anglo Saxon, try as they have linguists cannot find any other living language even vaguely connected to Euskara. The people are very proud of this!

During the Franco regime all these different language of Spain were oppressed. Franco wanted national unity, “with a single language, Castilian, and a single personality, that of Spain.” Of course despite the oppression and banning of the use of different languages in schools this was doomed to failure much as the English banning of wearing tartan could never stamp out the fierce sense of nationhood of the Scots.

Whilst historically all of these differences in the lives of the people of Spain waxed and waned one constant was the national religion – Catholicism. On the surface Spain remains as much a Catholic country as it did in the time of the Spanish Inquisition. But let’s not go there! Although these days the country has become much more secularised and liberal in its laws and the opinion of its people the deep religious affinity and tradition of Spaniards can be seen in their names. In the pilgrims’ office seeing passport after passport this is striking.

Spanish names are universally in the same form: first name, father´s family name and then the mother´s maiden name. What is also very common is the influence of religion in the peoples’ names. This is particularly striking in the Office when we convert the names into Latin to write them on the Compostela. First there are the many names of Santiago, the patron Saint of Spain. Some men are called Santiago, others Jacobo or  Jaime. Others are called after Saints, Pablo for Paul, Pedro for Peter, Ignacio for Ignatius. The longest list though falls to the women who are named after one of the many titles of the Virgin Mary. This reflects the national respect for motherhood and family whether religious or not. In a morning in the office you will meet several, Mary of the Angels (Maria Angeles) one or two women called Adoración or Almudena, meaning both Mary the Adored and Mary of Almudena, after whom the Cathedral in Madrid is named. Then there is Amparo, Anunciación, Arancha, and Asunción. These are all common names meaning Mary the Refuge, Annunciation, Mary of Arancha, and Assumption. We haven’t even left the A’s on the list yet.
 Add to these very common Spanish names like Carmen and Pilar. Carmen is Mary of Mount Carmel. Pilar is short for Maria del Pilar is Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Zaragoza. The pillar referred to is the jasper stone upon which Our Lady is said to have appeared to St James circa 40 AD in which she encouraged him to continue with his mission in Spain. This is said to have occurred while Our Lady was still alive and living in Jerusalem. The basilica in Zaragoza is considered to be the first Marian basilica in Christendom. The devotion to Maria del Pilar is the greatest of all devotions to Our Lady in Spain...add Belén (Mary of Bethlehem) Concepción, Dolores, Fátima, Encarnación, Inmaculada, Lourdes, Montserrat, Mercedes, Rosario and many, many others. So next time you hear a woman’s name in Spain, think where it comes from. This may be a very good conversation point. There are also names after events in the life of Jesus: Concepción, Visitación, Circuncisión are three examples. In this country calling someone Circumcision would raise eyebrows to say the least. Not so in Spain and I wrote down the lady’s name, Circuncisión Garcia Miguel Ramirez, as if it was an everyday occurrence.

Some of the religious connotations of well used names are obvious and so are the ways in which they can be constructed into longer names. You will hear many combinations of the following: Esperanza (hope) Jesús. Maria, José, Milagros (Miracles) Nazareno, Diosdado (God-given) and so on.

Some names are very descriptive Jose Manuel Miramontes – Joseph Emmanuel Lookingatthemountains.

Over the summer I started to write down my personal favourites but there were too many! However two in particular come to mind as the most florid relgious based names I have ever heard so have some sympathy if you meet Arceli Armero Garcia – Altar of Heaven Armero Garcia, or Maria a Refugio Espinilla de la Iglesia – Mary the Refuge Spine of the Church.

Sometimes I’m glad I’m just called Johnnie Walker. Cheers.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Back to the Camino Inglés

It has been such a busy week. There were big things going on with the organ and two family birthdays, one of which was mine. The latter was full of surprises. I’m tired and it has been cold of late as obviously winter is just round the corner. When I get like this my mind drifts to the freedom and beauty of the Camino. That will provide a perfect respite from the exhaustion of London, and in any event the guide to the Camino Inglés needs to be up dated. So, my flights are booked and I’m off for a week or so at the beginning of November.

I want to smell the sea air as I walk into Pontedeume across the long bridge, stroll along the country lanes, look out over scenes that could be in Ireland or Devon in England, have a picnic lunch by the river again, walk along the beach at Cabanas and talk to the many people in the fields along the way.
Over the summer I’ve had a number of e mails from pilgrims offering suggestions to improve the Guide. This is very gratifying because it is the only way the Guides can be kept up to date unless guidewriters walk the routes all the time which just isn’t possible. I like to think of the CSJ set of on-line guides as being in the collective ownership of all pilgrims because we can all make a contribution to keeping them accurate and useful for the next pilgrim to walk.
The list of Guides available on-line just gets longer! Go here and you will find Guides to:
The Route to Finisterre and Muxía
The Camino Portugues from Lisbon to Oporto
The Camino Portugues from Oporto to Santiago
The route from Madrid to Sahagun
The Tunnel Route
The Voie Littorale: Soulac to Hendaye
The Camino del Salvador

Now our friend Rebekah is working on a new guide to the Camino Invierno which will join the others. These Guides are available to download free of charge on the internet from anywhere in the world. All that is asked is that users consider making a donation. The Guides are available in PDF format so that they can be printed out like a booklet or in Word format so that pilgrims can read then discard all of the introductory information or add their own collected from other sources.
Our collective efforts with the Camino Inglés are paying off I think. For a long time it seemed to be the orphan cousin of the other routes but here is what appears to have happened:

In 2006 804 people walked from Ferrol, this increased to 1085 in 2006, 1451 in 2008 and last year 1793. Steady growth. However already this year the number of pilgrims on the Camino Inglés has risen to 5,344 by the end of September. The numbers for other routes in this Holy Year have roughly doubled so this is a very significant increase.
I have no doubt this is in part related to the existence of a good modern Guide book for the route. I take little credt for this as I simply updated the original work of Pat Quaiffe from some years before. What has really made the difference is the enthusiasm of pilgrims sending me comments and information which will be helpful to other pilgrims. Then professional translator and pilgrim Amancio wrote to me asking if he could “put something back” by translating the guide into Spanish. Only last week Momo, a professional Italian translator wrote to me asking the same question. Excellent. I’m very happy to encourage this. The only problem we have to overcome is where to host these guides and who will do the updating into Spanish, Italian etc in future. If any readers have bright ideas please let me know.
For now let me say thanks to Liz, and Rob and Mary and Ken who all sent me comments in the last year. I’d like to add a special word of thanks to the Younger family who I had the pleasure of meeting in the Pilgrims’ Office. They sent me line by line suggestions and improvements which makes the next edit much easier. Thank you.

I never cease to be amazed what this Camino can lead to. Last week I got an e mail from a young Italian lad telling me that he had walked the Camino Inglés as part of his university degree in photography. He produced his Camino Portfolio and was awarded a first class degree. Now he has been asked to do a book. I have asked him for some of his photographs so we can all see them.
Meanwhile as the first frost of the year descended on London last night and I can see drivers scraping their windscreens the sun is shining on a clear morning. Perfect walking weather. I hope it stays that way until I get to Galicia and back to the Camino Inglés.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

The Letter to Santiago

For many pilgrims arriving in Santiago can be a bit of an anti-climax. Of course there is the excitement of reaching the final destination and the fascination with the pilgrim rituals of attending the Pilgrim Mass, hugging the Saint and visiting the tomb of St James. The old city is beautiful. It is typically medieval and the Cathedral and sprawling university buildings sit cheek by jowl. The narrow streets and lanes teem with students who fill the outdoor cafes to lazily watch the many street entertainers who busk around like the jesters of old. Often as I sit with them I see lone pilgrims, some still limping, making their way around the many museums and sights. To be honest at times some look forlorn. I’ve had that feeling myself.

On the Way each day brings new encounters. As we walk along local people frequently shout a greeting from the nearby fields where they are working. Farm workers near the trail take a well earned rest to engage in conversation. Pilgrims are always attracted to other pilgrims and when we meet each other the same questions are asked, “Where did you start?” “Where were you last night?” “Where are you going today?” “Is there fresh water nearby?” and so on. There something immediate about the bond between pilgrims and often a few hours of walking together on the route can lead to sustained friendships or more days of walking in each other’s company. People walk at different paces from each other. Or need to take a rest. That can lead to new found friends not seeing each other for hours or even days. But when friends are re-united at the side of the road or at an albergue or indeed in Santiago there is considerable joy. “It is like meeting an old school friend” is how one pilgrim described it, “although often it is hours you have spent together rather than years in the same classroom. The feeling is just the same”. On reaching Santiago these friendships are lost. People need to go home. Pilgrim friends come from different countries. Have different travel arrangements. Pilgrims on their own in Santiago can find this difficult.
Not so the group of 23 pilgrims from England who walked under the auspices of the Confraternity of St James from Oporto to Santiago by way of the coastal route. I’ve seen the pictures. The route is stunningly beautiful with hostal accommodation every 25 kms or so. There is definitely a new guide to be written!

8 of us met at Stansted Airport in London a couple of Monday’s ago to catch the early flight to Santiago to go and meet them. By the afternoon the welcome party was at their hotel to greet the arriving pilgrims.
Then they queued at the Pilgrims’ Office for their Compostelas. The staff was depleted with people leaving and so I helped for an hour or two until the Confraternity group passed through. They were delighted to have their certificates in their hands and everyone made for the Pilgrims’ Mass. There was a religious convention on in the town and there were 20 bishops and 100 priests, with organ and botafumeiro. Splendid. Then we made off for dinner which Santiago friends had helped me organise. The food came non-stop. Plate after plate. Fish, meat, croquets, shell fish, cold meats, more fish…and wine which seemed to be without end.
The next few days brought more meals together, visits around the town, a really excellent guided tour of the Cathedral and a beautiful and tranquil Eucharist held in the Church of Sar and led by Anglican Priests, Colin and Joan who had walked from Oporto.

Colin is the Chairman of the Confraternity and so it fell to him to give the Invocation. Many pilgrim groups do this. It is a greeting to St James proclaimed at the beginning of the Mass. Colin read the entire message (see below) in perfect Spanish.

Joaquin had been primed and the music transported to lo and behold the Mass ended with a fantastic rendition on the organ of that wonderful English hymn, Jerusalem. The pilgrims were delighted. All the more so when Joaquin invited them aloft to see the organ and visit the great galleries above where the medieval pilgrims slept. Joaquin demonstrated the organ but refused to let anyone leave before the entire group sang Jerusalem for him. To the sound of the great Cathedral organ the full throated voices sang: “And did those feet in ancient time, walk upon England's mountains green… “
It was a great week together despite some travel arrangements being disrupted by the one day General Strike. I could tell that in this group deep friendships have been formed. Perhaps we will all walk together again one day?

Here is their letter to St James:

The Confraternity of Saint James
in the United Kingdom
Xacobeo 2010 ~ Invocation

Glorious Apostle Santiago,

We come from the Confraternity of St James in the United Kingdom to give honour to you and praise to Jesus Christ Our Lord in this Jubilee Year of 2010.

Just as you were among the first disciples to follow Jesus, many centuries later we were the first Confraternity in the English speaking world to promote and support the pilgrimage to your shrine here in this great Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

We started from a small beginning. Six English people made the pilgrimage to your shrine in the Holy Year of 1982. They all shared a common desire to follow in the historic journey along the roads in England and France to come finally to your resting place in Santiago.

The Confraternity of Saint James was born in early 1983. Since that time it has worked ceaselessly to tell people in the English speaking world about the wonders of this great pilgrimage. Every year pilgrims are prepared carefully with practical advice and our well known Guide books and are helped to begin to understand the spiritual purpose of the journey.

We have been greatly blessed by the dedication and enthusiasm of the pilgrims who had the opportunity to experience the camino in the early days, when there were long stretches without albergues, without yellow arrows and other support. They gave their time, energy and money to write Guide books in English to the Camino Frances and the Le Puy route in France. Further Guides have been and are continuing to be published for many alternative routes in Spain, France and the rest of Europe.

The Confraternity is proud to have been first to develop close friendships with the local Spanish Amigos del Camino de Santiago de El Bierzo. Together we have developed the first joint refuge on the Camino frances, in the tiny village of Rabanal del Camino. Hospitaleros from all over the world have been offering Christian hospitality in the Refugio Gaucelmo for 21 years. This year we celebrated the arrivel of pilgrim number 110,000 at the refuge, which many pilgrims say is a ‘peaceful oasis’ on the busy camino.

In recent years the Camino Frances became so busy we decided to try to open a second albergue on the Camino del Norte. With the support of the Bishop in Lugo, and after raising sufficient funds by the personal efforts of many of our members, we were able to open the Refugio de Peregrinos de Miraz in that place in 2005. Five years later, in this Holy Year, we have worked with the Xestion do Plan Xacobeo to build a wonderful new extension to the refugio in order to be able to accommodate the increasing numbers of pilgrims desiring to visit your shrine at this special time.

Over the last 25 years we have had contact with many thousands of pilgrims. We continue to see in them the powerful spiritual renewal which pilgrimage to this place can inspire.

In this Holy Year we thank the Archbishop, the priests of the Cathedral and diocese, the staff of the Pilgrims’ Office and everyone in Santiago who welcomes and supports pilgrims.

The Confraternity of St James in the United Kingdom has had a close association with the foundation and development of several other societies. We bring you greetings in their names also: The Bredereth Sen Jago, which traces and walks pilgrim routes along in south-west England. The Irish Society of Friends of St James: for 1000 years Irish pilgrims have travelled to this holy place. The American Pilgrims on the Camino who are providing information and support to pilgrims. The Canadian Company of Pilgrims, representing the Canadians outside Québec who have a bond and commitment to the Camino to Santiago. They have contributed to the new facilities at the albergue in Miraz. The Confraternity in South Africa who continue to expand and develop.

We thank them for their work, and on behalf of all of us and we salute you for your example of faithfulness to the Gospels and dedication to our Saviour, Jesus Christ in whose name we pledge our continuing support for the pilgrimage to this place in the days to come.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

All the news and numbers too!

I’ve just got back from Santiago after an exhausting 5 days with pilgrims from the Confraternity of St James. 23 of them had walked up the coastal route from Oporto and 8 of us went out to join them. It was a week of fun. I’ll post some more stories and photographs in the next week. We had dinners, Masses, music, prayers, an address to St James in the Cathedral, songs around the organ and other hi jinks. More later.
First the news. Mari who runs the office in the afternoons and who got married last year is pregnant. She is overjoyed. You may also remember Susana who runs the Archicofradía. She also got married in the last year and yes, you’ve guessed it…she is also pregnant. Congratulations to them both. They are very happy indeed. Happy for them but worried about how to cope is Don Jenaro the Canon in Charge of Pilgrimages and the Office. I have assured him that I’ll help out when I can and that I promise not to take maternity leave.
In the Pilgrims’ Office there is a strange atmosphere. Most of the staff have either left or are leaving in the next few weeks and around 15 new people have been appointed to take over. All change. The pilgrims keep coming but in less numbers now.

Thursday was the last day of the “busy season” and one hour before closing I ran a report from the data base which is very interesting.

In the month of September 36,611 pilgrims arrived in the Office.

Therefore so far this year a staggering 227,442 pilgrims have been given Compostelas or Certificates.

This compares to 130,792 in the same period in 2009. Almost double.

Looking at departure points these comparative figures are for the months from 1st January to the 30th September for the years 2008, 2009 and this year.

Departure Point       2008    2009    2010

St Jean de Pied Port   13418  13206   14547
Roncesvalles               8184    9275     11505
Pamplona                   3839     3710     3594
Astorga                      4597     5004     6540
Ponferrada                 6076     7315     10930
O Cebreiro                7210      8739    18166
Sarria                        18906    24134   56759

Sarria clearly comes out on top as the most popular starting point just beyond the 100 kms distance to Santiago. I thought it would be interesting to look at the nationalities of people walking from Sarria. As I thought Spain represents over 78% of these pilgrims. Which is an increase of 10% on last year. The comparisons are:

Top three nationalities departing from Sarria in 2010

Spanish – 78.53%
Italian - 5.75%
Irish - 1.81%

Here is a full analysis of the 227,442 pilgrims who had arrived one hour before the office closed on 30th September 2010:

Countries and number of pilgrims

Spain 155569 (68,40%)
Italy 13187 (5,80%)
Germany 12508 (5,50%)
France 7656 (3,37%)
Portugal 6832 (3,00%)
United States 2718 (1,20%)
Ireland 2128 (0,94%)
Poland 1824 (0,80%)
Holand 1787 (0,79%)
United Kingdom 1712 (0,75%)
Brasil 1672 (0,74%)
Austria 1481 (0,65%)
Canadá 1412 (0,62%)
Belgium 1282 (0,56%)
México 1181 (0,52%)
Korea 1099 (0,48%)
Suecia 1072 (0,47%)
Suiza 904 (0,40%)
Australia 903 (0,40%)
Argentina 870 (0,38%)
Denmark 821 (0,36%)
Venezuela 696 (0,31%)
Hungría 633 (0,28%)
República Checa 604 (0,27%)
Finlandia 583 (0,26%)
Colombia 562 (0,25%)
Japón 552 (0,24%)
Eslovaquia 547 (0,24%)
Noruega 480 (0,21%)
Eslovenia 413 (0,18%)
Sudáfrica 249 (0,11%)
Ecuador 224 (0,10%)
Rumania 207 (0,09%)
Uruguay 194 (0,09%)
Chile 188 (0,08%)
Puerto Rico 186 (0,08%)
Perú 176 (0,08%)
Rusia 176 (0,08%)
Nueva Zelanda 172 (0,08%)
Andorra 166 (0,07%)
Lituania 123 (0,05%)
Bolivia 108 (0,05%)
Luxemburgo 108 (0,05%)
Estonia 101 (0,04%)
Israel 79 (0,03%)
Bulgaria 74 (0,03%)
Croacia 73 (0,03%)
Paraguay 60 (0,03%)
Grecia 55 (0,02%)
Rep. Dominicana 52 (0,02%)
China 46 (0,02%)
Ucrania 46 (0,02%)
Cuba 41 (0,02%)
Filipinas 41 (0,02%)
El Salvador 39 (0,02%)
Marruecos 38 (0,02%)
Guatemala 34 (0,01%)
Costa Rica 32 (0,01%)
Malta 32 (0,01%)
Panamá 32 (0,01%)
Rep. de Corea 30 (0,01%)
Letonia 24 (0,01%)
Nicaragua 23 (0,01%)
Swazilandia 23 (0,01%)
Albania 20 (0,01%)
Myanmar 20 (0,01%)
Taiwán 20 (0,01%)
India 18 (0,01%)
Singapur 17 (0,01%)
Turquía 17 (0,01%)
Islas Feroe 15 (0,01%)
Honduras 15 (0,01%)
Serbia 15 (0,01%)
Brunei 14 (0,01%)
Irán 14 (0,01%)
Pakistán 14 (0,01%)
Armenia 12 (0,01%)
Islandia 12 (0,01%)
San Marino 12 (0,01%)

Gender     Nº of pilgrims

Male          127229 (55,94%)

Female        100201 (44,06%)

Mode of transport   Number of pilgrims

On foot                     196941 (86,59%)
Bicycle                      29337 (12,90%)
Horseback                1111 (0,49%)
Wheelchair                41 (0,02%)

Motivation                Number of Pilgrims

Religious                     123914 (54,48%)
Religious and others     91379 (40,18%)
Not religious                12137 (5,34%)

Departure Point          Number of pilgrims

Sarria                           56748 (24,95%)
Cebreiro                      18212 (8,01%)
S. Jean P. Port             14628 (6,43%)
Tui                               14538 (6,39%)
Roncesvalles                11541 (5,07%)
Ponferrada                   10959 (4,82%)
León                            10309 (4,53%)
Astorga                        6564 (2,89%)
Ourense                       5791 (2,55%)
Oporto                        4850 (2,13%)
Ferrol                          4235 (1,86%)
Vilafranca                    4230 (1,86%)
Burgos                         3701 (1,63%)
Pamplona                     3612 (1,59%)
Valença do Minho        3438 (1,51%)
Oviedo - C.P.              3054 (1,4%)
Le Puy                         2713 (1,19%)
Rest of Portugal           2615 (1,15%)
Triacastela                   2560 (1,13%)
Irún                             2204 (0,97%)
Lugo - C.P.                 2141 (0,94%)
Sevilla                         1956 (0,86%)
Rest of C. León          1799 (0,79%)
Samos                        1738 (0,76%)
Vilalba                        1697 (0,75%)
France                        1685 (0,74%)
Ribadeo                      1623 (0,71%)
Oviedo                        1550 (0,68%)
Rest of Asturias           1233 (0,54%)
Santander                    1114 (0,49%)
Neda                           1084 (0,48%)
Somport                       925 (0,41%)
Logroño                       855 (0,38%)
Bilbao                          687 (0,30%)
Holand                         681 (0,30%)
Mondoñedo                 664 (0,29%)
Lisboa                          657 (0,29%)
Ponte de Lima              629 (0,28%)
Porriño                         616 (0,27%)
Zamora                        611 (0,27%)
Vigo                            608 (0,27%)
Avilés                          592 (0,26%)
Salamanca                   582 (0,26%)
Gijón                           576 (0,25%)
Madrid - C.F.             534 (0,23%)
Sahagún                      530 (0,23%)
Germany                     505 (0,22%)
Vega de Valcarce        498 (0,22%)
Rest of Asturias - C.P. 405 (0,18%)
Gudiña                         398 (0,17%)
Puebla de Sanabria       389 (0,17%)
Finisterra                      380 (0,17%)
Jaca                             345 (0,15%)
Rest of País Vasco       341 (0,15%)
Abadin                         334 (0,15%)
Baamonde                    330 (0,15%)
Frómista                       327 (0,14%)
Laza                             304 (0,13%)
Rabanal del Camino      288 (0,13%)
Muxia                           286 (0,13%)
Lourenzá                       275 (0,12%)
Fonsagrada - C.P.         261 (0,11%)
Carrión de los Condes   257 (0,11%)
S Domingo de la Calzada 249 (0,11%)
Rest of Cantabria            240 (0,11%)
Allariz                            235 (0,10%)
Bélgium                         222 (0,10%)
Verín                             207 (0,09%)
Braga                            206 (0,09%)
Puente la Reina             191 (0,08%)
Suiza                            185 (0,08%)
Lourdes                       184 (0,08%)
Hospital de Orbigo       183 (0,08%)
San Sebastián               182 (0,08%)
Rest C. León - V.P.     181 (0,08%)
Mérida                        171 (0,08%)
Xunqueira de Ambia    164 (0,07%)
Otros                           159 (0,07%)
Chaves-Portugal           159 (0,07%)
Granja de Moreruela     156 (0,07%)
R.Pais Vasco                147 (0,06%)
Zaragoza                      140 (0,06%)
A Guarda                     139 (0,06%)
Vezelay                        136 (0,06%)
Cataluña                       136 (0,06%)
Grandas de Salime C.P 134 (0,06%)
Arles                             133 (0,06%)
Hendaya                       127 (0,06%)
Valencia                        124 (0,05%)
Madrid                          123 (0,05%)
France                           117 (0,05%)
Fonsagrada                    116 (0,05%)
Montserrat                     113 (0,05%)
Barcelona                      111 (0,05%)
Rest Andalucia               110 (0,05%)
Cáceres                         102 (0,04%)
Estella                            101 (0,04%)
Murcia                           100 (0,04%)
Cadavo                          98 (0,04%)
Com. Valenciana            85 (0,04%)
Rest Galicia                    83 (0,04%)
Granada                         77 (0,03%)
Resto de Extremadura    76 (0,03%)
Navarra                         75 (0,03%)
Tineo - C.P.                   74 (0,03%)
Canfranc                        73 (0,03%)
Monforte de Lemos        73 (0,03%)
Grandas de Salime          72 (0,03%)
Austria                            66 (0,03%)
Rest Europa                    64 (0,03%)
Tineo                              62 (0,03%)
Molinaseca                     58 (0,03%)
París                               56 (0,02%)
Italy                                55 (0,02%)
Castilla la Mancha           53 (0,02%)
Córdoba                         50 (0,02%)
Com. Valenciana             46  (0,02%)
Rome                              31 (0,01%)
United Kingdom              25 (0,01%)
Poland                            20 (0,01%)
Denmark                        13 (0,01%)

Employement status Number of pilgrims

Employed                    52799 (23,21%)
Students                      43269 (19,02%)
Technical                     27616 (12,14%)
Self employed              23222 (10,21%)
Retired                        21013 (9,24%)
Teachers                     14926 (6,56%)
Civil servants               12898 (5,67%)
Manual workers          11711 (5,15%)
Housewives                 8733 (3,84%)
On state support          4964 (2,18%)
Directors                     1822 (0,80%)
Priests                         1376 (0,60%)
Artists                         1110 (0,49%)
Farm workers              803 (0,35%)
Religious orders           640 (0,28%)
Sailors                         337 (0,15%)
Sportsmen                   138 (0,06%)

Age Range    Number of pilgrims

30 - 60          131235 (57,70%)
< 30              68348 (30,05%)
> 60               27859 (12,25%)


Camino     Number of pilgrims

Camino Frances 159804 (70,26%)
Camino Portugues 28345 (12,46%)
Camino del Norte 14228 (6,26%)
Via de la Plata 12031 (5,29%)
Camino Primitivo 6245 (2,75%)
Camino Ingles 5344 (2,35%)
Muxia-Finisterre 666 (0,29%)
Other routes 572 (0,25%)