Hey there folks,
I actually wrote this last week but didn’t feel it appropriate to post until I felt it necessary.
Before I buggered off on San Salvador without telling a Soul – what a heart-wrenching, foolish mistake that was – I stayed in the monastery in Leon. And here I am again, having successfully completed this pristine Way, mostly intact and in good health. And once more, nestled amongst them in their hundreds, I realize just how much I can grow to dislike pilgrims.
On the day I started San Salvador, I left Leon rather late by Camino standards – half past 7 – even though I was awoken at 5 by those goddamned bed chasers. You’d think we were all forced to sleep outside, this constant hustle and bustle so many pilgrims concern themselves with. As if the beds evaporate overnight, and everything becomes completo at approximately 11.
Christ, pilgrims, get your shit together.
Oh, yes, this is a rant. A rant against those who are here on the Way by not being here on the Way. If you think this might apply to you, even in the slightest, then, yeah, it’s probably about you. You’re That Guy.
As you know, I stayed in the monastery in Leon, a place with approximately 150 beds, with an attached hotel (for the bourg pilgrims) and a number of hostels and pensions available within spitting distance. But even then, Leon being a prime pilgrim destination, it was full by 4PM or so. Not usual, not unexpected. Many people start or stop in Leon – what do you expect?
People were turned away, which is always a bummer, but I am of the belief that there’s always a bed. There’s always a bed, dammit – why can’t you pilgrims understand this? Bemoaning your fate won’t make a bed manifest (unless you consider the kindness of a hospitaler@ offering you the floor a bed).
There’s no need to wake at 5, repack all of your goddamned plastic bags for half an hour, chat with your goddamned comrades in your outside voices, then turn on the goddamned lights just to make sure you check all the Asshole Boxes before buggering off to your next goddamned bed.
Pilgrims, I swear.
Many of us came out here to escape the Rat Race, to cast aside the outside world and embrace the Way for what it is: something greater than ourselves. An international community walking a yellow brick road together – what’s greater than that?
But too often pilgrims bring their shitty realities with them, forcing it upon the rest of us as an uncomfortable rape. The Way isn’t about bed chasing, you fuckwits; this is far more than petty, trivial bullshit. Try and enjoy it without worrying about if you have a bottom bunk. Don’t concern yourself about time, accommodations, Wi-Fi, hot chow, or if you can access the Facebook from that hill. Don’t worry about anything out here: that’s one of the goddamned points.
I’ve shared the Way with a great many pilgrims – and most of them are great – but there’s always those who complain about every little thing. There were no bottom bunks, the food wasn’t warm, the Meseta was boring, the hills blah fucking blah. My left leg and foot are more swollen than a horse’s cock, but bitchin’ about it won’t make the pain go down (that’s what the wine is for, obviously).
Who’s forcing you out here? Accept it – this is the Way, and the Way doesn’t care about your trivial wants. Don’t like it? Go home. You get a bed, you get some chow, you get a shower – that’s all you need. Quidurbichin‘ I say.
But Bruno, I can hear you moaning into your bourg bed with gratis Wi-Fi, it’s MY Camino!
Yeah, and? You self-entitled prick.
That phrase – it’s my Camino – is almost as asinine as “Well that’s your opinion.” No shit; whose else would it be? Of course it’s your fucking Camino; no one else is walking it for you. Sure, you are absolutely encouraged to walk/ride it how you want, but that doesn’t mean you get to be a selfish cock about it. When you complain about anything – anything! – out here, which other pilgrim really gives a fuck?
Oh, you didn’t get a bottom bunk? Bummer. Sure sucks to sleep on the top bunk when there’s a perfectly good outdoors for you to go bitch at.
Ah, the Wi-Fi at this joint is slow? Darn. I’m sure the bar owner is so miffed you’re utilizing his facilities purely for his slow Internet access. Now how will you watch funny cat videos?
But, but, I can hear you sob into the void, it’s -my- Camino!
And this is my blog so go fuck yourself.
My Camino, bah. Nothing out here is yours. Everything out here belongs to everyone else. It’s not your albergue; tonight it belongs to every other pilgrim you’re sharing it with. It’s not your biking path; today you share the road with the walkers and other (fake) pilgrim bikers.
Your Wi-Fi connection? Shared.
Your bed? Shared.
Your dinner? Shared, and probably has French fries on the side.
Everything out here is shared by all pilgrims and Seekers. Claiming that, “it’s your Camino,” is equivalent to planting a flag somewhere and declaring it a part of a foreign land. That shit might’ve worked for Columbus, but homie don’t play that way on Camino.
You’re being hypocritical, I can hear you sniffle through your tears. You need Wi-Fi to write! And who doesn’t like a bottom bunk?
Ah thwarted at last; your sweet revenge!
Ha, like hell. I need Wi-Fi to post a passage – I certainly don’t need Wi-Fi to write. And I write often. Journals, letters, blogs, and more, I can write all damned day and never fret for a Wi-Fi signal. When I have Wi-Fi, hell yeah, fire it up! Let’s get in touch with my Soul and spend many a blissful hour with her. And if I don’t have Wi-Fi for the day, a handwritten letter it’ll be then. But I understand hoping for Wi-Fi on a daily basis, and bitching about it later, is a fool’s errand.
And you’re right; who doesn’t like a bottom bunk? But you know what’s better than a bottom bunk?
Not sleeping out-fucking-side.
For those who are offended by this post, reflect upon the Way’s adage: “The tourist demands; the pilgrim accepts.” And if you’re demanding, you’re a tourist. You’re still That Fucking Guy.
But too often I see tourists dressed up as pilgrims, masquerading as Seekers, refusing to look beyond themselves and their petty needs. Not everyone out here will speak your tongue, enjoy your preferred music genre, or agree with your philosophy. We’re all different, folks, but we’re all united in our commitment to walk to the end. We might as well get along whilst we’re doing so, and worry more about our fellow Seekers than if we can post that pretty photo, or share our favorite song, or make reservations at the next joint.
Life isn’t about the next Wi-Fi signal or the bottom bunk. Life certainly isn’t about walking across northern Spain to visit a dead holy man. But the latter is far more fulfilling than the former.
Turn off your goddamned phones. Forget about the Wi-Fi. Accept that you won’t always have the bottom bunk.
It’s not your Camino; it’s the goddamned Way.
6 thoughts on “It’s -My- Camino (And Other Stupid Things)”
Wow, Bruno. That’s pretty harsh. I’m guessing the Frances is more crowded today than when I left it in October 2010 (even though that was a holy year). I spent a day in one of my favorite museums this week Museum of Modern Art in New York. In the old days I had it pretty much to myself, except on weekends. This week there were mobs of people — so many you could hardly get to the paintings, almost all plugged into something — even the museum guide on wifi — snapping pictures of the pictures. I wondered how many really SAW anything? Why were they there? So, I think I understand where you’re coming from and share a lot of those same feelings.
Where is the San Salvador route? I looked for a map, but came up empty. It sounds a bit too wild and rough for these old legs, but I’m curious. Linnea
San Salvador starts in Leon and ends in Oveido. If you walk Camino in Leon, you’ll eventually cross paths with Salvador – it’s very well-marked in Leon. Can’t miss it. Good 5 or 6 day hike.
I never understood snapping pictures of pictures myself. It’s already painted; what is your photo going to do? Make it more special? You can just Google it for the same result.
People are out here, but they aren’t -out- here. Plugged in to some electronic or another, foregoing their fellow pilgrims in favor of a Wi-Fi signal.
I’m a camino blogger (I took my internet connection with me on my latest camino) and as a rather mature woman I do have a preference for the bottom bunk, but I so hope no-one has ever thought of me as ‘that guy’. After four caminos I am very familiar with that guy and all his very annoying traits. On my latest camino I spent seven days walking off piste between the camino del Norte and the Ingles. It was magical – not only no pilgrims, but nobody at all during my walking days hugging the coastline. I have been thinking I may be ‘done’ with the camino, but you have me interested in the San Salvador – I just need to plot a route to get to it and from it without bumping into too many of those guys.
I can’t remember how I recently came across your blog, but I am very glad I did. Thanks for your very refreshing views on ‘my camino’.
Stupid computer. I had a whole response for you written out but the touch screen decided Delete was what I meant. So, to paraphrase, from memory:
Nah, you aren’t That Guy. That Guy demands. You’re a Seeker. On the quest to understand and experience new things. The polar opposite of That Guy.
Give San Salvador a shot – just bring a stick with you for the steep declines and the dogs. It’s a doozy. Thanks for reading.
Reading from the darkest woods north of Beantown and hell yeah That Guy is here, too. My son asked upon arrival, “will all the campers be nice?” I said, “are all pilgrims nice? No, the camino and the campground are made up of people and not all people are nice.” I’m glad we got that out of the way while he’s still in grammar school, life will be easier.
Fact. People are still people, God love ’em. Just smile and be polite; it’s the best we can do.
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