5 Ways to Avoid Having Your Lights Punched Out as a Pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago

Adventure Coach

Embracing life as a pilgrim encourages the minimalist in all of us to live within our means and even with less if that is possible.  Overall, the culture of being a Pilgrim is respected by all. The purpose is peace. Peace among all who make this difficult walk. This is why it is important to honor a couple rules.

Be polite. Not only to pilgrims but especially to the Albergue hosts and hostesses. Most of the time, they are volunteering their time. This is how the cost for beds can be so low. If you want to sprinkle in some enthusiasm, optimism, patience, flexibility and generosity…all the more rich your Pilgrim experience will be.

By the time we were on the road for over 20 days, walking from location to location, we became good judges of decent and indecent pilgrim behavior. Chazelle, my traveling companion, is one of the most patient people I know. For her to hit a level of frustration she might lose it… That’s the gage I’m using since I’m more of a fireball.

If you go on Pilgrimage…here are 5 things that you can do to ensure you won’t piss off your fellow Pilgrims.

 

VIOLATION #1: HEADLAMPS AFTER LIGHTS OUT

Headlamps are designed for outside use. The typical hours of Albergue’s are: Lights out at 10 p.m.- Must be gone by 8:00 a.m. If you’ve stayed out after 10:00 p.m., and you blast around the dorm with a headlamp- everyone will want to poison your water tomorrow. It’s rude, bright, and blinds people, even if you think it’s not a big deal…it is.

Sure, there have been times when we have been permitted to visit beyond 10:00 p.m. by the Albergue hosts, we dismiss quiet and with respect. We sneak in, open our backpacks and retrieve our toothbrush in 30 seconds or less. Some try to get up as early as 4:00 a.m. So you don’t want to be super disruptive when you were given the privilege of the rule extension.

This leads into #2…

 

VIOLATION #2: LOUD NOISE AFTER LIGHTS OUT

Snoring is a touchy subject. In many cases, it can’t be helped. In fact, people have no idea they snore until they become Pilgrims…because if they snore and it’s loud…everyone knows and because Pilgrims tend to be an outgoing bunch, they are always happy to tell you. It is embarrassing to be a Pilgrim who snore’s loud…so much so, many of our friends have elected to sleep outdoors at every opportunity, even in the rain… so they would not disturb their fellow Pilgrims. Bless their hearts. This violation isn’t really about them. It’s about another type of violator…

Everyone uses plastic bags for toiletries and laundry and lots of things. So handy because they are durable, reusable and recyclable. However, if you rustle around in your backpack for longer than 30 seconds…your level of consideration is nonexistent.

Anything you will need next, should be in the very top of your pack. Before you abandon your pack…make sure you’ve got it on top. If it’s morning…your clothes for the day and your toothbrush (we even go to the extreme of sleeping in the clothes we will wear the next day in an effort to be thoughtful); If it’s nighttime… Your toiletry bag; If it’s the middle of the day… You plan best having your hat, sunglasses, sun screen and first aid kit handy. If you’re ready to check into your Albergue for the night, have your sleep sack to keep bed thieves at arms length, and Pilgrim Passport ready.

Even though it is a simple life to be a Pilgrim, it helps to manage your time in a wise fashion. When others are waiting on you, or trying to recover with sleep after a long day on the trail, it pays to be considerate. Otherwise, instead of a “Buen Camino,” you run the risk of landing a middle finger.

 

VIOLATION #3: TALKING ON YOUR PHONE IN BED AFTER LIGHTS OUT

You have all day to play around on your phone. Sometimes you have wifi, sometimes you don’t. That being said…the next time someone is on their cell phone after lights out and is so loud you can hear everything the person on other end of the line is saying…they will get dragged out by the hair and locked outside.

 

VIOLATION #4: IT’S A SHAME I SHOULD EVEN HAVE TO LIST THIS

Masturbating in the dorm….especially loudly…is just not cool. Even if that is the one thing you will leave at the foot of Saint James. It’s creepy, weird and gross. The priests, grandmothers, mothers with their young children, widowers and grieving Pilgrims trying to find peace and solace don’t deserve to encounter that type of behavior.

 

VIOLATION #5:  GETTING YOUR PACK TOGETHER AT 5:00 A.M. OR EARLIER

We did a few night walks. We got up early. Did we wake up the whole dorm? Of course not.

The problem isn’t leaving early. In fact, good for you! There is something magical about watching the sun rise among the Spanish hills. It’s fantastic, I want you to see and experience it. The problem is taking 30 loud minutes to reconstruct your pack when you’re the only one up.

Our advice? Take your pack and all your things outside the dorm. There’s a kitchen, a sitting area, a hallway, sometimes a lounge area and if all else fails…a bathroom. It took us one time of getting our pack ready early and waking up our friends to learn its a big offense. Don’t be a jerk, it won’t make your Camino more Buen.

 

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