Friday, March 28, 2014

More than one Camino

These days it seems everyone is talking about The Camino. And when they do, although they may not know its name, they are probably talking about the Camino Frances - an 800 km journey from St Jean Pied de Port on the French side of the Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela in the north west of Spain. But there is more than one Camino ...

The three questions I've been asked most about the Camino (after Why do you do it? and Where do you sleep?) are:

Where exactly is the Camino?
How many people walk the Camino?
And where do they come from?  

Where exactly is the Camino?

The Camino de Santiago, also known as El Camino de Santiago or The Way of Saint James, is made up of many 'pilgrim paths' that all lead to the town of Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain. The origins of the Camino de Santiago go back to the middle ages when the various paths were important christian pilgrimage routes with pilgrims walking to seek forgiveness from St James. It is thought that the remains of the apostle Saint James are buried in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. These days people walk the Camino for many other reasons ...

The Camino Frances is the most popular and well known Camino and the one depicted in the recent movie The Way. I have walked this Camino twice, and its beauty and spirit are extraordinary. I hope I will walk that way again one day. But this time I am following another path.

The map below shows the 12 waymarked routes including Camino Frances (yellow, starting at St Jean Pied de Port), Camino Le Puy (green, starting at Le Puy) and Camino Primitivo (blue, starting at Oviedo, in northern Spain, just south of Gijon).

More than one Camino - the 12 main waymarked routes

How many people walk the Camino?

In 2013, 215,880 pilgrims received the compostela at the Pilgrims Office in Santiago.  The compostela is a certificate granted to pilgrims who have walked at least the last 100 kms along one of the Camino routes in to Santiago de Compostela. Of those 215,880, just over 70% had walked the Camino Frances, although only 12% of pilgrims started at St Jean Pied de Port.  Most start further along the way, with the greatest number, 24% in 2013, starting in Sarria, which is just over 100 kms from Santiago.

The remaining 30% came to Santiago via one of the other Camino routes:

70.3% Camino Frances
13.6% Camino Portugues
6.2% Camino del Norte
4.2% Via de la Plata
3.2% Camino Primitivo (where I may be by early May)
2% Camino Ingles
0.2% Muxia - Finesterre
0.2% Other Caminos (including Camino Le Puy where I will be next week).


Where do modern day pilgrims come from?

The first time I walked the Camino in late 2011, I met just one American and did not meet any Australians. Of course, they were on the path, we just didn't cross paths.  When Jill and I walked the Camino last year, we met quite a few Americans (many who said they'd been inspired by the movie of The Way) and a few Australians.  So where do most pilgrims come from?

The Pilgrims Office stats for 2013 show the Top 10 countries that pilgrims call home:

49% Spain
7.5% Germany
7.2% Italy
4.95% Portugal
4.69% USA
3.85% France
2.32% Ireland
1.95% UK
1.56% Canada
1.44% Australia (up by 64% since 2012 and by 129% since 2011).

So, although there has been huge growth in the number of Australians walking the Camino, we are still a small group.

As for Camino Le Puy, it seems there may not be a whole lot of pilgrims, Australian or otherwise, along the way. But there will be at least three I know who will be starting from Le Puy on  the same day as me ... that's the serendipity of the Camino.  More on that another time.

Just four more sleeps to departure day!  Yeah.

J. x

No comments:

Post a Comment