You've got a lot of people in close proximity, sharing extraordinary and difficult experiences in an exotic and romantic country. At the end of the day's walking you're often eating and drinking together, then sharing sleeping quarters. A lot of people are between relationships, and unattached. They might be open to someone new entering their life.
You'd think this would provide the incendiary ingredients for sex on the Camino.
It doesn't. Or at least, it's not the hot bed of sexual trysts you think it might be. The Camino is strangely chaste.
Now, that's not to say that there aren't hook-ups, and romantic liaisons don't blossom. They do. But I have a theory that the Camino is asexual. I think the energy coming up from The Way, from the soul imprints of all those pilgrims who've been before, is such that it almost negates the sexual impulse.
This is a pilgrimage. And many people take it seriously as a spiritual journey. They're walking the Camino to work stuff out. They are self absorbed in their internal musings. They don't give out. They are turned inwards.
They are not open to the advances of others. It doesn't interest them. They are employed in higher pursuits. They might feel that a sexual union might somehow tarnish their special and very personal experience of the Camino.
In the summer time you get more younger pilgrims, and possibly more of a holiday festive kind of energy infuses The Way, and perhaps then more hook-ups occur.
But what I've found is that there is an enormous respect for the other's “space.” This is not a walk where you hit on someone.
I met a couple, in their middle years, who met on the Camino several years ago. They fell in love and later married. And now they're walking the Camino again, at exactly the same time of the year when they first met, to remember the love they discovered together.
I met a couple, boyfriend and girlfriend for several years, who split up acrimoniously a week into their walk.
Someone said to me: You see people at their physical worst on the Camino. Unattractive clothing, dirty hair, no make-up on the women, men unshaven and scruffy, smelly, sweaty.
Did I say smelly?
If you find someone attractive under those circumstances, chances are it will last. But, I don't think the Camino exudes a sexual energy. It exudes a spiritual energy. A sacred energy.
It is, after all, a pilgrimage. It's not a nightclub.