Trip cancelled? Help friends and loved-ones keep the dream of walking El Camino de Santiago (the Way of St James) alive
The Spanish Government has announced major measures against the Coronavirus which will impact heavily on those planning or wishing to walk El Camino de Santiago this year. And, in effect, at the moment, El Camino is closed.
Camino de Santiago closed?
In consequence of the spread of this COVID-19 virus, the hostels, albergues and other shelters along much and many parts of the Camino de Santiago are closed – as indeed is the Cathedral de Santiago itself, and the associated Pilgrim Office.
But most pilgrims and other travellers are keeping their faith and planning to achieve their goal of doing a Camino – and friend / relatives are busy consoling them and wishing them good luck in achieving their goal at a future date.
If anyone wants to send a small gift of condolence to a friend or loved-one who has had to cancel their long-planned Camino, we offer some little items in our shop online that could perhaps help them to keep the dream alive .
There is no escaping the fact that, even if someone is still intending to travel along Spain’s famous Way of St James, it would be extremely difficult at the moment – if not actually impossible. At the very least, the spread of COVID-19 over the Iberian Peninsular is causing a distinct lack of support services such as accommodation, as well as the issue of personal and community or social health and wellbeing.
Considerable alarm has now overcome the country, and especially in the northern regions of Spain which traditionally attract foreign visitors onto the Camino at this time of year (peaking after Easter) from all parts of the globe.
The overall situation will be reviewed again at the end of March – but things are unlikely to improve because the virus will not have run its full course – according to the experts. In fact, it could be at its height in April.
Pilgrims and other travellers or walkers who want more information about the feasibility of a journey along all the different routes should check with regional offices. (The Spanish health system’s Twitter accounts are also a good source of information).
Disappointment for Camino travellers – and Spanish hosteleros
To say that the Spanish are sad about the inconvenience this has caused to the pilgrims who are currently travelling (or who had planned to travel on a trip in the future) is an understatement.
And of course, the travellers or pilgrims themselves are also very upset by this latest news but, judging by the forums online, people are taking the news with some stoicism, realising that the decision has been taken for their own (as well as others’) safety.
Much of the infrastructure of the Camino routes is being shut down and attempting to walk using the traditional routes would now be almost impossible. In effect, all such journeys are cancelled at the moment.
FICS issues official warning
FICS – La Fraternidad Internacional del Camino de Santiago issued an official notice on Thursday 12th March stating that “in the face of the recent events of the Coronavirus, and also of the responsibility we have to our pilgrims and volunteers, we advise all pilgrims not to undertake the Jacobean pilgrimage at the moment nor until the situation is normalised . . and to heed the warnings of the health authorities without question.”
On Saturday 14th March, the Spanish Government went a stage further by limiting the circulation or the presence of persons or vehicles at certain times and in certain places and limiting or rationing the use of services or the consumption of essential items. This is, in a word, lockdown, as we have already witnessed in Italy.
In the UK, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises against all but essential travel to the regions that the Spanish Ministry of Health has designated as an area of community transmission of the Coronavirus.
The famous Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela is now officially closed, as is the attendant Pilgrim’s Office, and those arriving to receive their Credencial are being asked to leave a completed application form in a box outside. Cathedral Mass in English has been suspended until the Pilgrims’ Centre re-opens . . and nobody knows when that will be.
Keep the Camino dream alive
On a more positive note, many of the comments on the forums (in particular the caminodesantiago.me run by Ivar), have been more upbeat:
“Santiago will still be there in a couple of months!” says another.
“This is not a disaster, disappointing sure, and inconvenient, but this too will pass. Santiago will wait”
“The Camino isn’t going anywhere, it will be here waiting for a better time to walk.”
The Camino has existed for over a thousand years and will still be waiting for us in years to come.
But disappointment is palpable too: “I read this (news) with a very heavy heart as the older I get the less time I have to wait!” said one commentator.
If anyone wants to send a small gift of condolence to a friend or loved-one who has had to cancel their long-planned Camino, we offer some little items in our shop online that could perhaps help them to keep the dream alive . Also see gifts to help achieve goals in our online shop.
I read this news with a very heavy heart as the older I get the less time I have to wait