I have been getting into debates about the Camino on a website called Santiagobis (no, I don't know why, either) devoted to that topic recently, so the business of pilgrimage is on my mind.
So far, 2009 has been the year of Italians and cyclists. Last year it was Germans, because a comedian there wrote a best-seller about his journey.
In his book, called in English, 'I'm Off Now' he suggested that people who could afford to stay in hotels should do so and not take up bed spaces in albergues. I'm inclined to agree, and more or less said so.
This sparked a firestorm of response, mostly missing the point and saying how nice albergues were, and what lovely people one meets in them, etc.
The debate is still raging on, but I will cut the Kerkeling (for that is the author's name) now.
Why there are so many Italians this year is mysterious. I have asked several, but none had any real answer. I did think they might be doing penance on behalf of Berlusconi, but it was laughingly denied.
The rise in the number of cyclists is another thing. In general, it is unwelcome to me, because I think they are often bloody pests.
They wear outfits that insult the eye, seldom let walkers know of their approach, and zoom past with nary a warning, let alone a greeting. They seem to take little interest in the countryside they hurtle through and often are wearing headphones, so don't hear anything either. Yesterday I saw one bombing along, oblivious to everything - and shouting into his mobile phone. They are mostly Spanish and young and I also suspect them of doing most of the littering on the trail, though I have no direct evidence for this.
A curious thing is that of the many discarded cigarette packets we pick up, all, without exception, are Lucky Strike or Marlboro. Either nobody now smokes anything else, or smokers of other brands (whatever happened to Ducados and Gaulois?) are less environment-insensitive.
Bachelors know more about women than married men; if they didn't they'd be married too.
H. L. Mencken
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