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Safety/Assaults/Crime on the Camino...

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by iris, Jan 25, 2010.

  1. iris

    iris New Member

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    My 19 year old daughter and I (48 year old mother) are adventurous people but I have been told that there have been assaults on women occasionally, who are traveling alone or in pairs on the Camino...I don't believe everything I hear but I also am compelled to ask experienced Camino travelers about this and their experiences with crime of any kind...is this true or common? Also, when one is walking the trails, don't you often run into other pilgrims along the way or is one often alone on the trails...just want to be clear in my own mind about this...and would really appreciate hearing from any and all who care to comment. Thanks!!
     
  2. HuskyNerd

    HuskyNerd Super Moderator

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    In my 4 years of following and walking the Camino I've never heard of an assault on a woman. I have heard of and seen evidence of some aggressively amorous men who've hoped to find a hook up with attractive peregrinas. But the word on the street is that the Camino is safe. There are many stories of robbers and bandits and con men on the Camino of old, but the days of Camino danger are blessedly past.

    It is possible to walk alone, but most often there are pilgrims within earshot ahead or behind. The closer one gets to Santiago, the more this is true. I have one photo from 2008 in which you can see about a mile ahead. About every 100 yard is another single or paired pilgrim.

    Even if a person begins the Camino alone they're almost certain to join up with a group of fellow pilgrims. A posse as we now say in America. These usually sort themselves by language and age, and they occur because you can't help but say "hi" and have conversations with people you've slept with, showered with, washed clothes with, walked with, etc. My 21-year old son began the Camino alone last year in SJPP, was almost never by himself, and made lifelong friends from other English speaking countries around the world.

    Here are slides of my Camino from 2008 if you're interested. Many blessings and much joy on your upcoming pilgrimage.
    YouTube - Camino de Santiago 2008
     
  3. iris

    iris New Member

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    Thank you for your reply, I really appreciate it! The images in your video are really beautiful, so great of you to share it. I will definitely forward the link to my daughter. We are both already very excited and this will just add to that I'm sure. BTW..I have to ask, as we are avid photographers in our family...which camera did you take with you on the Camino...brand and type? I will have to pare down and my regular camera will be too big and cumbersome...
     
  4. HuskyNerd

    HuskyNerd Super Moderator

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    Glad the info was helpful and that you enjoyed my slides. The camera I used was an older version of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3. I chose this camera because of the Leica lens, the 12x optical zoom, and the great ratings by reviewers. At 7.2 ounces it wasn't too annoying to lug all over Northern Spain. I kept it in its own waterproof bag outside my jacket so it was always pretty handy. I also carried a second rechargeable battery so I'd never run out of juice, and by watching my photo resolution (medium) and storage mode (jpeg) I never ran out of space on a 1 Gig memory card. The simple recharger is light and took up little space in my pack. I'd definitely take this camera along again for weight and photo quality.

    Buen camino!
     
  5. Covey

    Covey Active Member

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    Having been on the Camino Frances for each of the past five years, I have never heard of any pilgrim being attacked or robbed, or even just feeling frightened of the above.

    Although on paper it appears that you are out in the wilds of Northern Spain, in reality, you are never far from civilization and the Camino Frances tracks the main East/West highway across Spain.

    The Spanish still have a special regard for the Pilgrims, even though they realise that at least half are not walking for religious reasons. Last year I was walking through a remote village, and a farm worker stopped his tractor, climbed down and gave me a sweet, bid me Buen Camino and got back in to his tractor and drove off. You are in greater danger of being overwhelmed with kindness, than with danger.

    The majority of pilgrims start alone, but usually shake out in to loose "families" of 4-8 like minded souls who speak the same language and walk at the same pace. Many prefer to walk alone but meet up in the evenings and go out for a meal together, or cook together if the pilgrim menu gets monotonous! Interestingly, these groups cover all age groups. The younger pilgrims seem to quite enjoy the company and knowledge of the older generation (I am 62!!):cool:
     
  6. iris

    iris New Member

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    Thank you...the input from both you and Husky Nerd is very reassuring and helpful
    !
     
  7. karenleeg

    karenleeg New Member

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    I want to add my thanks to Husky Nerd for this reassuring post. I will be starting out my journey alone and this is putting my daughters' mind at rest to a certain extent, regarding my personal safety. But, they have made me promise to carry a Fox whistle in addition to a soundless dog whistle. Deterrents!
     
  8. karenleeg

    karenleeg New Member

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    I want to add my thanks to Husky Nerd for this reassuring post. I will be starting out my journey alone and this is putting my daughters' mind at rest to a certain extent, regarding my personal safety. But, they have made me promise to carry a Fox whistle in addition to a soundless dog whistle. Deterrents!
     
  9. renegade_pilgrim

    renegade_pilgrim New Member

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    I would also recommend taking a self defense class before you go. Not because there is crime on the Camino, but because you should know how to defend yourself and protect yourself. I took a two-hour one earlier this month and it really made me feel empowered and know that I am capable of handling certain situations if they present themselves. I did this, also knowing that I will be traveling for about five months through some second and third-world countries who do not treat women well. Seriously, it's an amazing experience. Check with your local police department or community college to see if they offer classes.
     
  10. Covey

    Covey Active Member

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    Ladies!! You are walking an ancient pilgrimage route, not entering a war zone.

    Apart from not knowing what a Fox whistle is, the only defense equipment you need is your walking pole to prod any mangy stray dog that gets too close.

    The greatest shock to your system is likely to be finding that the shower cubicle in the albergue does not have a door or curtain (Ladies might find it useful to carry a sarong!! Makes a useful sheet and shower curtain!!);)
     
  11. renegade_pilgrim

    renegade_pilgrim New Member

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    With all due respect, I think it is important for women to know how to defend themselves, no matter where they are. I know that in general, the Camino is very safe. However, it attracts all kinds of people. Those with good intentions and those without. This is true all over the world. I would rather be prepared and not have to use my "skills", than to be unprepared and get taken advantage of.

    Just my .02 as a woman who travels all over the world, (knock on wood) nothing bad has ever happened, and still, I took a self defense class just a few weeks ago. Be prepared is not just the Boy Scout motto! :);)
     
  12. karenleeg

    karenleeg New Member

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    Thanks for the input from all of you! I have been fortunate to have travelled extensively with a backpack and a pair of sandals through India, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Bali, Thailand, England, France and Spain. I have had fantastic experiences, always looking forward to the next adventure but, I have had a handful of unfortunate incidents. Fortunately, after having lived in a rural village in India for several months, I had been taught basic Indian women's self defense methods which have served me well when these incidents did occur. Believe it or not, in the middle of civilisation or in the countryside, on a sophisticated guided tour or walking the Camino, having the knowledge of whatever methods you are comfortable with to ensure your personal safety, truly allows you to proceed with that knowledge tucked away - essential for all travelers, male or female. Sad but realistic preparation for this trip has made my daughters, once again, demand their mother afflicted with wanderlust, ensure safety for my next adventure, a trip I have looked forward to for the past 20 years since I first read about this pilgrimage. Not a religious person, just spiritual - I look forward to this adventure and to meeting all of the individuals I meet along the way.
     
  13. fraluchi

    fraluchi 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015

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    My wife and I have been walking the Camino Franc?s in 2007, 2008 and 2009, and have never met or heard of stories concerning the subject. Our experience has been like Covey's, seeing walkers/pilgrims meet and share their experiences.
    Of course you have to watch your belongings but perhaps the worst enemies, apart from snorers and sore feet, can be bedbugs. Direct your self-defense to those 3 subjects?!
     
  14. karenleeg

    karenleeg New Member

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    Thank you to all!!! Earplugs, blister pads and my own sleeping bag are on the priority list!
     
  15. Lynn

    Lynn Guest

    Greetings,
    I started walking from Le Puy-en-velay on August 30th 2009 and walked into Santiago on Nov 26th 2009. During my walk I met two women who had been attacked. One at Grealou in France .... there is a long flat, scrubby trail before Grealou and someone jumped out and tried to steal a money bag off one woman. She managed to beat him off. We walked together for about 3 weeks after that - she reported it to the police and they were very good about following it up and keeping in contact with her whilst she walked. The other happened in the rather lonely stretch after the ?Iridas Bodegas ... where the free wine fountain is. This woman was attacked by a naked man wearing a balaclava - she beat him off with her poles but he also stole her wallet with passport and money. She reported this to the Spanish police but they were not nearly as proactive as the French ... mind you that woman was very stoic and shrugged it off. She was more interested in just moving on and forgetting about it, and getting another passport. Both women had their clothing torn and damaged and suffered some form of economic hardship ... the first woman was very psychologically distressed by the event (as well as bruised) .. the reason we walked together as she felt unsafe alone. Eventually she found her 'base' again and began walking by herself.

    No disrespect to the men but they are not the people who should be answering this question re violence to women. Minimising the risk trivialises the experiences of women generally. Women are vulnerable - however the research says that we are more in danger from known men than strangers. Walking the camino you meet many people ... listen to your 'intuition' aka 'skilled pattern recognition' ... dont live with fear ... but be aware .... I think the person who suggested that you do a self defence course is spot on! It will give you greater confidence in your abilities as well.

    When I walked I never felt in danger .. I walk with confidence and am prepared to fight if need be ... or to run which I regard as the better option however wearing a backpack means that running may not be viable. Be prepared to damage a person who attacks you ... dont feel sorry for them, go over it in your mind - visualise hitting someone, practice. Remember that men on average are twice to three times as strong as you so be a dirty fighter, go for the eyes and or the privates and hit hard.

    I dont want or mean to instill fear ... in fact you are probably safer on the camino than walking in your local street or in your own kitchen. I met many lovely men and for both these women who were attacked, male pilgrims were the first people on the scene after the event and they rendered kind and considerate assistance.

    good luck
    Lynn
     
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  16. stramer

    stramer New Member

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    I walked the Camino this Fall by myself, and along the way met many single women walking alone - and I had absolutel no problems, nor did I hear of any of the other single women having had any trouble at all. I felt very safe, and even though walking by myself, and pilgrims do look out for each other. So do go on this adventure with your daughter without fear! Buen Camino, Eva
     
  17. stramer

    stramer New Member

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    Amen to the bedbugs! That was the most unpleasant part of my Camino in September/October 2009. They were rampant, I am sorry to say! Hard to avoid, but I learned that washing your clothes in very hot water, tumble dry them, and throw your sleeping bag in a hot tumbler should kill any unwanted stowaways. Do it often, and always hang out your sleeping bag to air out, when you arrive. It won't completely eliminate the problem, but at least help keep it at bay.
    Buen Camino, Eva
     
  18. stramer

    stramer New Member

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    I walked the Camino this Fall by myself, and along the way met many single women walking alone - and I had absolutel no problems, nor did I hear of any of the other single women having had any trouble at all. I felt very safe, and even though walking by myself, and pilgrims do look out for each other. So do go on this adventure with your daughter without fear! Buen Camino, Eva
     
  19. Beatrix

    Beatrix New Member

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    Hi, when I walked the french way I was with a friend and then made other friends too on the way. I was walking some days alone but nothing wrong happened. A walking stick can give so much confidence!
    A friend told me that once she was resting in a wood and she noticed that a men was lying on the grass a few meters away doing nasty things...
    She got up and walked away. She was not afraid rather shocked.

    So to be realistic crazy people are everywhere. Just stay calm and dont loose your mind. And hold on to your walking stick!
    When I walked the north way, I walked completely alone. Rarely met pilgrims. It was in August last year.
    I am sure that the pilgims were there, only that we were not meeting.

    I had problems with the dogs though. Far too many and far too laud and fierce dogs for me. Not for everyone. Men did not seem to be afraid of them. :) But I can't really shout as they can. Again my walking stick was a great thing with me. And not to forget I was praying almost all the time. I think that work too. :)

    Anyway recently I heard something interesting. That we make our enemies. I think there is something true in it.
     
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