PC #128 – Camino Protocols

Do you think there are any protocols on the Camino?

For instance, talking on the phone while you’re walking.

A couple of times I got some very filthy looks from other pilgrims as they passed me, while I was on the phone to my wife. I got the distinct impression it was something you just shouldn’t do – talk on the phone while you’re walking.

Then there’s the top bunk and the bottom bunk.

Isn’t there a protocol that the younger pilgrims should offer up their bottom bunk to the more elderly, and take the top bunk themselves? If so, it seems to be a protocol that isn’t followed very assiduously.

Touching someone while they’re sleeping.

I saw a pilgrim physically try and wake another pilgrim during the night, because she was snoring loudly. The snorer – a woman – was visibly distraught at being touched by this man in the middle of the night in a darkened albergue. Isn’t it a protocol that you don’t touch someone while they’re sleeping?

Do you know of any other protocols?


10 thoughts on “PC #128 – Camino Protocols

  1. I think the Camino has a lot of protocols, Bill. Most, I think, are plain common sense. When I was hobbling along on my broken leg, twice some kind pilgrim soul traded me my assigned upper bunk for the coveted lower bunk. One even unmade my already made up upper bunk and made up the lower bunk. Just one of many pilgrim candidates for sainthood. I was careful to move to an area out of earshot of pilgrims who might been meditating or reflecting before making a Face Time call. In Rouncevalles, I encountered a mother with two tiny pilgrims maybe ages 7 and 10 who I put a head of me for a shower. It was late and the children appeared tired and more than ready for bed. In Pamplona, other pilgrims put me ahead in line for a bunk probably because I appeared to be struggling. Most pilgrims I ran across were careful to use only a small area to stow belongings, or minimal space on the clothes drying line. I thought everyone on his or her best behavior, and very considerate. That was my experience. Julie


    • HI Julie –

      Those are wonderful stories. Thank you.

      And by and large I found the same level of courtesy and kindness.

      But they are acts of kindness.

      I wonder if there are actual protocols that are unwritten rules, if you like, that pilgrims are meant to adhere to.

      And I’m not talking about the things that supposedly constitute what a true pilgrim is



  2. The only ones I knew of before I left were no noise after 10.00pm and leave quitely in the morning. The latter was rarely adhered to. One girl I met told me that a middle aged German couple switched on the main lights in the albergue at 04.30 then packed and chatted, she met them several times. For me it was a German lady moving my washing from the sunny half of the clothesline to the shady side. I moved them back, then we watched each other like two cats on a wall ’till my clothes were dry.


    • Hear, hear! I have a bicycle bell on my hiking pole now… I ring it! Coming thru… Ding ding! Is that so difficult? And what a pleasure, hearing a bell… Or a clown horn, for God sake!


      • Hi Peter – I love this!
        BTW -Your completely wonderful exhortation “Use Your Bell, Baby” has been passed on to friends of mine who are walking the Camino at the moment. As Camino veterans of about 10 Caminos so far, in the ‘busy’ part from Leon to Santiago, they LOVE IT!
        Cheers – Jenny
        PS – It’s so fantastic to be able to read your thoughts on the blog again. Your posts were much missed.


  3. Bill –

    Seems I remember a few folks possessing a piece of paper that looked quasi-official which had a list of “do’s” and “don’ts” on it in English/French/German. That was very early on… after SJPP but before Pamplona. No idea of source, maybe someone else can help.

    A “protocol” is something “official” that memorializes an agreement of some sort. So, an ‘un-written’ protocol is unlikely lest such a document existed at some time and, though lost now, persists in an oral tradition. Perhaps we have a reader with a background in pilgrimage studies who knows of a bygone master list?

    What I observed, as most of us did, was either common courtesy or breaches thereof. The adherence to courtesy and, yes, it often warmed to great kindness, was quite touching. Departures from same had me literally scratching my head as to “WTF are these people doing here?” But… getting over that reaction is a gift of the Camino to many of us.



    • Brendan,

      It would have been fascinating to see what was on that list of Do’s and Dont’s!


      Yes, sometimes lapses in common courtesy are baffling, given that everyone is supposedly on a pilgrimage.



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