Let me ask you something: in your day to day life, would you ever go to a café, take a seat, take your shoes and socks off and start inspecting and touching your feet? Don’t think so. The Camino Etiquette is not that different.
Here’s another one: in your day to day life, would you enter your home with dirty boots or would you rather leave them at your door steps?
Is it me, or is there a growing lack of respect on the Camino? Maybe it’s time we share some good-old respect rules, because it’s simply not okay to do whatever you want and say ‘that’s the Camino’.
Growing lack of respect
I remember a pilgrim once commented on a forum how it is amazing how one progressively becomes less shameful in doing certain things on the Camino. Is this a good thing or a bad thing?
While some of the things can be a personal achievement (becoming more outgoing, having less fear to do certain things, completely disconnect from social media, learning how to say ‘no’, etc.), other things are simply a growing lack of respect.
Disrespect is all around us, so you will also encounter it on the Camino unfortunately. On the Camino it is maybe even more obvious. Maybe because we are more focused, our brain is free to recognize bad behavior more easily. Or maybe because we expect more good behavior on the Camino and we are used to see regularly bad behavior in our normal day to day lives.
“That’s the Camino”
I remember a story a fellow pilgrim shared with me. It was about an encounter she had with another pilgrim who was behaving in a very annoying way. The usual pilgrim frustrations: bragging about the distance she walked but not leaving any room for others to tell about their experience, having loud conversations while some pilgrims were already trying to sleep, setting a loud alarm to wake her up at 5.30 am, making too much noise and shining lights in everyone’s eyes because she was searching for something in the dark…
I understand this type of person can be found anywhere and I do understand that it’s usually unconscious behavior. However, when that person was addressed on her behavior by a fellow pilgrim she responded ‘That’s the Camino’. That’s when I get mad. Really? Behaving like an idiot and on top of it all not taking the responsibility but instead blaming the Camino?
These people irritate me. I have been searching for an animal metaphor to define this type of person who are intentionally irritating. Somehow ‘baboon’ didn’t quite catch the meaning since the circumstances are not funny at all. What a wonderful surprise to learn that in Yiddish these persons are called bedbugs.
The people who simply do what they want without regards of how it may affect others and defend that by saying ‘That’s the Camino’ should be taking their hike elsewhere.
However, since their whereabouts are beyond my control and an insecticide will obviously not solve this (legally), I’ll simply list the rules I try to adhere to. Some are well known and have been shared before but most are from my personal experience and maybe not even that obvious to new pilgrims.
It took a few pages to summarize these rules of respect on the Camino, so I’ve summarized them all in a free e-book. Download it for free and start setting an example.
Bedbugs are not going to sign-up for this free e-book, I’m pretty sure of that. But the rest of us can however make a difference by spreading the word and holding others accountable when they do act in a non-Camino-like way.
Don’t be a bedbug: download the e-book and spread the word.
One more thing
When someone breaks one of these rules and you speak up (please do!), they might try to start an irritating argument. Just lift your shoulders and say ‘That’s the Camino’!
You could also ask for their e-mail address and tell them you have a good read that will benefit them. Bedbugs are usually greedy and will want your free e-book: forward it to them :-).
They deserve a chance to change.
I hope this e-book can help you set an even better example when you are doing your Camino. Since leading by example is so effective, we might have a chance to make the Camino a better place together!
Here’s the download link to: ‘That’s the Camino! 25 Rules of Respect’ – a guide to get rid of ‘bedbug-persons’.