Wednesday, 19 September 2012

It isn't how far you travel...but...


I’ve been away from Santiago for a week visiting London. I had to sort out some personal stuff. As I crammed into the Tube to travel 30 minutes underground I knew where I’d rather be. The pace of life is different in Santiago and whilst of course I love the excitement and buzz of London, nowadays a short visit is enough for me.
 When I got back I found that pilgrims were still arriving in considerable numbers  and I was happy to help write some Compostelas whilst Amigos Lesley and Séan, both from Ireland, chatted to the pilgrims.
Even with the pressure of a seemingly unending queue the atmosphere in the office is usually light-hearted. Colleagues are courteous and helpful to pilgrims. Usually. Laura on my left raised her eyebrows when we both overheard the usually mild mannered Fernando speak more loudly than usual. “Look”, he said, “I don’t make the rules.” He then proceeded to explain to a Spanish cyclist that to qualify for a Compostela he had to have cycled at least 200 kilometres to Santiago. I glanced over at the man’s credencial which Fernando held in his hand. There were few sellos to be seen. Fernando rehearsed the policy for the third time and for the third time the cyclist started arguing with him. He had cycled 100 kilometres and felt he was entitled. His complaints got sharper and his voice grew louder. Frankly it was ugly.
Pietr, Trudy, Barbara, Dominique
It was with some relief I looked up at the next two pilgrims who had arrived at my desk. The woman, Trudy, handed me four credenciales. Thinking they were for the two of them I said, “ 2 credenciales each. Where have you two walked from, St Jean Pied de Port?” The man, Pietr, said with a broad smile and his eyes twinkling. “No, I’ve got four as well” and promptly plumped them down. “We started from our home in Holland” Trudy beamed. “2,700 kilometres” Pietr chimed in, “109 days walking” added Trudy. Just then two more pilgrims stepped up to Laura. They were Barbara from Italy who had walked from St Jean Pied de Port and Dominique who had walked from Paris. They had all met on the Camino Francés and were overjoyed to be at the same desk to get their Compostelas. I have to confess I was being mischievous when I turned to Fernando who was still dealing with the very rude cyclist. 
“ Fernando, two of them have walked 2,700 kilometres from Holland, one from Paris and the other from St Jean,  do you have any idea of their total together?” I asked. Fernando cottoned on and started to calculate. He turned back to his desk to find the difficult cyclist had departed. Let’s hope we see him another day.
It isn’t about miles walked or cycled. The policy of having to walk 100 kilometres or cycle 200 kilometres is purely arbitrary. It was introduced to give the Compostela some meaning and to recognise that many, many pilgrims travel extraordinary distances to reach the Tomb of St James. Pilgrimage is about the internal journey we travel in our hearts and minds as we walk along the road to Santiago. But I have a special fondness for the long, long distance pilgrims. In addition to Trudy and Pietr, Barbara and Dominique here are some others who have arrived in the last few days:
Meet Koreans Dong Hyeon and Hee Bum. They walked to Santiago from Istanbul and Sofia respectively.  They were overwhelmed to have arrived. They were humble and deeply appreciative of the welcome they received. They had difficulty expressing what the journey had meant to them. “A dream” said one, “ My private world has opened”  said the other.
Istanbul was also the departure point of cyclist Nicholas from New York who had also cycled from Istanbul and would hug St James before setting off on the next leg of his journey to Tangiers!
The Camino doesn’t all have to be done at once and this group from Segovia arrived with a huge sense of achievement.
One of them, Rosa, said, “We come from Segovia and we have arrived in Santiago after two years and four attempts: Spring and Autumn in 2011 and now 2012. We started from Roncesvalles and now we are here! I can now rest my sore feet.”
However the most astonishing achievement we saw celebrated this week was when Francisco Guillen arrived. He has set himself a challenge for his pilgrimage and he set out from his home in Castellón in Spain, travelling over the border to France, then to Rome, then to Switzerland, Belgium, and Holland before making his way back to Spain to follow the Camino to Santiago. All 6165 kilometres travelled in his wheelchair.
His words are a lesson to the cyclist who was mean to Fernando. They are a lesson for us all:
“The mind is the limit, but what this shows is that a pilgrim has no limits to his spirit. In the human spirit we see the greatness of people”
       

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Signs of the times – All the numbers from Santiago



Two years ago the Pilgrims Office moved from Number 1 Rúa do Vilar and its famous green door to another part of the Casa Del Dean at Number 3 Rúa do Vilar. Many pilgrims over these two years still went to the old door but at long last new signs have arrived indicating where the new office is located. Inside there are others indicating where the various facilities can be found.

New signs may be also emerging in the numbers of pilgrims arriving in Santiago. I have been reporting here the significant increase in pilgrims arriving from English speaking countries. This analysis of the first 8 months of the year shows the percentage increase between the years 2011 – 2012.
 But in this period the start of another trend may be seen. In the years 2009, 2010 and 2011, in this same period the number of Spaniards was 56%, 69%, and 55% of the total respectively. This year that percentage has dropped to 52%.

Also the average growth rate in total numbers over the last few years has been around 6% per annum. In the period reported this has fallen to 4% as you can see below.

Already the pundits are speculating that the economic crisis in Spain is having its effect on the number of Spanish pilgrims. I think that it is a little early to reach such conclusions. The crisis will worsen considerably in the next year or so and the deeply unpopular austerity programme has still to bite. Maybe then more people will turn to the pilgrimage. Vamos a ver.

Pilgrims from English speaking countries 1 January – 31 August 2012

Country
2009
2010
2011
2012
 Growth
Australia
577
694
744
1064
43%
Canada
1265
1125
1336
1665
25%
Ireland
1285
1644
1776
2758
55%
South Africa
185
177
318
478
50%
United Kingdom
1157
1340
1475
2373
61%
United States
1826
2294
2743
4539
66%
New Zealand
119
143
145
217
50%


Total number of pilgrims who arrived in Santiago in the period 1 January 2011 – 31 August 2011

136006

Total number of pilgrims who arrived in Santiago in the period 1 January 2012 – 31 August 2012

 141360

This is an increase of 4%


Full analysis 1 January 2012 – 31 August 2012

Country of origin

Country                      Number of pilgrims

Spain                                      73554 (52,03%)
Germany                               10626 (7,52%)
Italy                                        10060 (7,12%)
Portugal                                 7810 (5,52%)
France                                    5507 (3,90%)
USA                                         4539 (3,21%)
Ireland                                    2758 (1,95%)
Reino Unido                          2373 (1,68%)
Holand                                    2273 (1,61%)
Canada                                   1665 (1,18%)
Korea                                       1658 (1,17%)
Poland                                    1640 (1,16%)
Brasil                                      1404 (0,99%)
Belgium                                  1331 (0,94%)
Austria                                    1293 (0,91%)
Denmark                                1101 (0,78%)
Australia                                 1064 (0,75%)
Switzerland                             895 (0,63%)
Sweden                                   829 (0,59%)
México                                   688 (0,49%)
Hungary                                  622 (0,44%)
Czeck Republic                        608 (0,43%)
Japan                                      605 (0,43%)
Norway                                   604 (0,43%)
Argentina                                532 (0,38%)
Finland                                   517 (0,37%)
Slovakia                                  495 (0,35%)
South Africa                            478 (0,34%)
Russia                                     352 (0,25%)
Colombia                                312 (0,22%)
Slovenia                                  284 (0,20%)
Venezuela                               271 (0,19%)
New Zealand                           217 (0,15%)
Romania                                 188 (0,13%)
Bulgaria                                 141 (0,10%)
Chile                                       132 (0,09%)
Lithiuania                               129 (0,09%)
Ecuador                                  126 (0,09%)
China                                      120 (0,08%)
Perú                                        109 (0,08%)
Uruguay                                 102 (0,07%)
Estonia                                   82 (0,06%)
Puerto Rico                             81 (0,06%)
Andorra                                  71 (0,05%)
Israel                                      63 (0,04%)
Ukraine                                 57 (0,04%)
Phillipines                             55 (0,04%)
Croacia                                  54 (0,04%)
Luxemburg                           49 (0,03%)
Greece                                   49 (0,03%)
Bolivia                                    41 (0,03%)
Paraguay                                39 (0,03%)
Rep. Dominicana                    39 (0,03%)
Letonia                                   39 (0,03%)
Malta                                     38 (0,03%)


Gender

Gender                                    Number of pilgrims

Male                                        79852 (56,49%)
Female                                    61508 (43,51%)

Method Of transport

Method                                  Number of pilgrims

On foot                                    120088 (84,95%)
Bicycle                                     20796 (14,71%)
Horseback                               447 (0,32%)
Wheelchair                             29 (0,02%)

Reasons for making the pilgrimage

Reasons                                  Number of pilgrims

Religious or spiritual               73148 (51,75%)
Religious                                 59158 (41,85%)
Not religious                           9054 (6,40%)








Starting point

Starting point                                    Number of pilgrims

Sarria                                     30497 (21,57%)
S. Jean P. Port                        14549 (10,29%)
Cebreiro                                 7555 (5,34%)
León                                       7512 (5,31%)
Tui                                          6405 (4,53%)
Roncesvalles                          6219 (4,40%)
Ponferrada                             5734 (4,06%)
Oporto                                    5479 (3,88%)
Astorga                                    4217 (2,98%)
Pamplona                               2884 (2,04%)
Oviedo                                     2858 (2,02%)
Burgos                                    2789 (1,97%)
Ferrol                                     2668 (1,89%)
Valença do Minho                  2468 (1,75%)
Rest of Portugal                     2230 (1,58%)
Irún                                          2222 (1,57%)
Le Puy                                     2219 (1,57%)
Vilafranca                              2075 (1,47%)
Ourense                                 1861 (1,32%)
Seville                                     1781 (1,26%)
Triacastela                             1594 (1,13%)
Francia                                               1420 (1,00%)
Lugo                                       1187 (0,84%)
Rest C. León                           1008 (0,71%)
Ribadeo                                  948 (0,67%)
Rest Asturias                          944 (0,67%)
Samos                                     937 (0,66%)
Santander                               861 (0,61%)
Vilalba                                    727 (0,51%)
Lisbon                                     714 (0,51%)
Ponte de Lima                         700 (0,50%)
Logroño                                  695 (0,49%)
Bilbao                                     662 (0,47%)
Holanda                                  651 (0,46%)
Oviedo                                    579 (0,41%)
Gijón                                       558 (0,39%)
Somport                                 474 (0,34%)
Avilés                                      431 (0,30%)
Germany                                416 (0,29%)
Salamanca                             383 (0,27%)
Mondoñedo                            357 (0,25%)
Madrid                                    353 (0,25%)
Zamora                                  335 (0,24%)
Rest País Vasco                      331 (0,23%)
Sahagún                                 297 (0,21%)
Bélgium                                  275 (0,19%)
Vega de Valcarce                   275 (0,19%)
Rest Asturias                          274 (0,19%)
Puebla de Sanabria                 264 (0,19%)
Braga                                     246 (0,17%)
Chaves-Portugal                     240 (0,17%)
San Sebastián                         228 (0,16%)
Muxia                                     223 (0,16%)
Baamonde                              222 (0,16%)
Rest Cantabria                       220 (0,16%)
Jaca                                        218 (0,15%)
Frómista                                 191 (0,14%)
Lourdes                                  184 (0,13%)
Switzerland                            183 (0,13%)
Gudiña                                    182 (0,13%)
Rates, S. Pedro                       173 (0,12%)
Neda                                       170 (0,12%)
A Guarda                                166 (0,12%)
Porriño                                   161 (0,11%)
Lourenzá                                151 (0,11%)
St Domingo                            149 (0,11%)
Carrión de los Condes             146 (0,10%)
Barcelos                                 139 (0,10%)
Puente la Reina                      137 (0,10%)
Fonsagrada                            136 (0,10%)
Vezelay                                   133 (0,09%)
Xunqueira de Ambia               127 (0,09%)
Rabanal del Camino               119 (0,08%)
Rest Andalucia                       115 (0,08%)
Finisterra                                115 (0,08%)
Arles                                       114 (0,08%)
Montserrat                             114 (0,08%)

Employment status

Status                                     Number of pilgrims

Employed                               31057 (21,97%)
Students                                 28800 (20,37%)
Technicians                            17814 (12,60%)
Retired                                   14561 (10,30%)
Self Employed                        14531 (10,28%)
Teachers                                12219 (8,64%)
Civil servants                          6183 (4,37%)
Manual workers                     5207 (3,68%)
Unemployed                           3594 (2,54%)
Homemakers                         3152 (2,23%)
Directors                                1203 (0,85%)
Artists                                     1023 (0,72%)
Priests                                    901 (0,64%)
Farmers                                  426 (0,30%)
Religious                                377 (0,27%)
Sailors                                    164 (0,12%)
Sports                                     132 (0,09%)
Oikoten                                  16 (0,01%)

Ages

Age                                          Number of pilgrims

30 – 60                                   79293 (56,09%)
< 30                                        43489 (30,76%)
> 60                                        18578 (13,14%)

Routes taken

Camino                                   Number of pilgrims

Frances-Camino de                 97424 (68,92%)
Portugues-Camino                  19280 (13,64%)
Norte-Camino de                    10021 (7,09%)
Via de la Plata                         6408 (4,53%)
Primitivo-Camino                    4695 (3,32%)
Ingles-Camino                        2844 (2,01%)
Otros caminos                        350 (0,25%)
Muxia-Finisterre                     338 (0,24%)