onsdag den 22. maj 2019

En ode til Via de la Plata

Antallet af pilgrimme på Via de la Plata er stort set uforandret siden 2011. Og intet tyder umiddelbart på, at ruten får samme succes som de øvrige Caminoer i Spanien.
Den af de spanske caminoer, som byder på pilgrimsvandring som i 1980erne, er afgjort Via de la Plata. Men med en forskel. Man skal være lavet af et særligt stof, hvis man skal gå fra Sevilla i de varmeste sommermåneder, men forår og efterår er der både pilgrimsliv og plads til at være sig selv på samme tid. Her det årlige antal af pilgrimme på ruten de seneste 8 år: 2011: 8.061 ; 2012: 8.163 2013: 9.016; 2014: 8.490; 2015: 9.221; 2016: 9.083; 2017: 9.138; 2018: 9.127. Altså stort set uforandret, samtidig med at flere af de øvrige camino'er er blevet mere end fordoblet i søgning i samme tidsrum. Her i april i år - altså det allertidligste forår kom der 978 pilgrimme ind til Santiago fra Via de la Plata. Tallet for maj bliver afgjort mange gange større, men trods det langt under antallet fra de øvrige ruter.
Den erfarne amerikanske pilgrim, Andre ( der på nettet kalder sig t2andreo), der tillige er frivillig på pilgrimskontoret i Santiago år efter år, har på på den engelsksprogede pilgrimshjemmeside, https://www.caminodesantiago.me/, skrevet et epos til fordel for Via de la Plata, hvor han bl.a. skriver, at "Via de la Plata er populær blandt pilgrimme, der søger en langdistancevandring uden al det "disnificering", som du finder på Camino Frances". (Ja, det er langt fra alle pilgrimme, der er lige så begejstret/glad for Camino Frances, som undertegnede) Den amerikanske pilgrim Andre mener, at Camino Frances er blevet offer for sin egen succes, mens Via de la Plata stadig står for nået oprindeligt (pilgrimsagtigt) og han afslutter: Fraværet af en udviklet infrastruktur gør, at kun de bevidste pilgrimme, der holder af de få afvekslinger på lange, øde strækninger, vil blive tiltrukket af atmosfæren på Via de la Plata. Salige være disse pilgrimme ..
Her hele Andres ode til Via de la Plata på hans eget sprog:
The via de la Plata is popular with pilgrims seeking a long-distance walk without all the "Disneyfication" of the Camino Frances. The CF is the most popular and developed of all the routes. It has the most amenities to support increased numbers of pilgrims. Historically, it is among the oldest routes.
IIRC the Camino de la Plata from Sevilla is about 1,050 km. That is 200 km longer than the full Camino Frances (799 km). Moreover, if you start from the south coast on the Atlantic Ocean on the feeder routes, from Cadiz on the Via Augusta, or from Algeciras on the Via Serrana, you can add several hundred more km to your Camino.
As the 2021 Holy Year approaches, the Camino Frances is becoming a victim of its own success. I opine that we will see 'peak pilgrim' in 2021. Peak pilgrim is a mathematical scenario where every bed in every place of accommodation is full. It is a very complicated issue. But essentially, it means that the Camino Frances will likely reach saturation levels in the summer months of 2021.
Because of its relative commercial development and availability of amenities, the Camino Frances attracts university class groups, organized tour companies, tourists per se, baggage transport, and the curious seeking but "a taste of the Camino..." IMHO, the Camino Portugues from Porto, and especially from Tui, is catching up, and FAST.
The first Camino route documented is the Camino Primitivo from Oviedo (King Alfonso II of Asturias). But, the Frances has come to be the 'spine' or central route for all approaches form the north and east. Most all routes coming from the north or east eventually join the Frances. Some as far east as Puente la Reina, and others as late as Lavacolla. Don't believe me, look at a map all Camino routes in Spain / southern France. The pattern of routes looks like a spine with ribs or branches.
Moreover, the heightened volumes on the Camino Frances, or any route for that matter, attracts businesses trying to be successful. Examples include both mochila transport and tour companies. Face it, if you are trying to run a business, you are going to situation yourself where there is more traffic.
My view is that the de la Plata, Norte, Invierno, Ingles, and several other less known routes are safe from oversubscription and crowds until and unless they become as 'developed' as the Frances or Portuguese. If you build it (amenities) they will come (pilgrims).
If one looks at the annual statistics made available by the Pilgrim Office, it can be seen that after the Caminos Frances, Portuguese, and Primitivo, the volumes, per route, drop off precipitously. These other routes are less popular, overall, because they lack the relative "convenience" of the Frances or Portuguese...etc.
Absent a developed infrastructure, only determined pilgrims, aware of the vicissitudes of long, desolate walking routes will be attracted. Blessed be determined pilgrims...

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