Here I go...

Finding magic under the stars of the Camino Santiago de Compostela

Friday, May 03, 2013

A Possible Change of Plans

So, I have to admit I'm struggling today with whether or not to change my plans.

Last night, on the forum, a pilgrim posted he had been robbed on the Via de la Plata right before Guillena!  Two masked men with knives forced him to spread out his belongings on the ground. They took his money and his phone. He begged them and was able to keep the phone.

At first I thought maybe this was just a fluke. But then Luka posted on the forum that two bicigrinos had their bikes stolen from them by the same men right before Real de la Jara. and then I hear reports of other pilgrim robberies on those first few stages, as well as in an albergue further up north.

I'm planning to bus up to Zafra, so I would be past the troubled area.

But for some reason, my gut is telling me perhaps I should consider sticking to the Camino Frances this year again.  It is busy with pilgrims. A person never walks alone there. The area I"m considering walking in southern Spain on the Via de la Plata has very few pilgrims - one is alone much of the time - and I'm just not feeling comfortable after these reports.

I have to ask myself, what is my goal?
I have seen Seville, Cordoba, Zafra, and much of southern Spain.
I was hoping to finish the VDLP, but that is not as important to me as keeping my money in my pocket and being able to walk for my health for those few weeks.  I can do the same amount of walking in familiar territory on the Frances, where there is safety, as well as have more lodging options and even the option of bag transport.

I'm not hoping to have an unexpected adventure - I'm walking for my health.
I don't have cash to spare - so getting robbed, which has never before been a concern, is now on my plate as a real concern.

If only one pilgrim had been robbed, I would probably just shrug.
Or if it were just a "story" I"d heard.
But I heard it here from the horse's mouth.
A pilgrim was robbed at knifepoint.

Before I read about the two bikes being taken, I also would have shrugged.
But now, there is a knife, the robbers are attacking pairs (not just single walkers).
And there are reports of robberies further up the trail.

A 60 plus woman walking alone feels an awfully lot like an easy target to me.

So, I'm thinking today.

It's not too late to change my plans and just stick to the Camino Frances.
The only cash I"d lose would be my $45 deposit to the Poor Clares in Seville.
I could just count it as a donation to their African mission.

Maybe the VDLP is just not in the cards for me.
Or maybe I should wait and walk it next year when Joe or another walker can accompany me.

I've been told I"m brave,
but I've never been told I'm stupid.
Walking into a den of snakes feels stupid.

What would YOU do???


  1. That's not good news and an interesting question which of course I am answering from my armchair having never been within cooee of the Camino! So in my completely uninformed opinion there's a difference between scary fun and just plain scary. I try to push myself if I think I'm avoiding doing something fun or worthwhile just because it is scary but there's a tipping point where the return is not worth the fear. If I thought the fear was going to spoil my enjoyment in walking then I would do the French Way. Best of luck in your decision making.

  2. I'd disregard it and go. Pilgrims are very well thought of by the locals and any threat to them will not be tolerated. I bet they have these folks in hand by now. It's not a den of snakes, just a half snake with lots of folks after it.
    Buen Camino!

  3. Actually, it is more than one event and more than one thief and the police have not yet caught them. Added to this concern is yet another instance of a woman being forced to strip. Not nice stories.

    It's perhaps easier to disregard such stories if you are male.

    HOWEVER... Most of the stories are from Extremedura down near Sevilla and I will be starting furthe north in Zafra. I have decided to go forward with my plans. I have changed my itinerary a bit. I will now go directly to Zafra from Madrid, skipping Sevilla, which I have seen twice.

  4. This could be indicative of the down turn in the Spanish economy. I'm no expert but people will resort to robbery if they're broke and can't get $$ any other way. Be a shame to miss the experience of staying with the Poor Clares but think I'd opt for the safe route. Have you considered the Camino Portugués: Full Walk: Lisbon to Santiago. That's the one I was thinking of doing this time next year :)

  5. PS: Always go with your gut feelings.

  6. Hi Annie, did you check the walking calendar for VDP on the forum? Maybe you could buddy up with someone for part of it. I think you are right to choose a differenct less popular route to walk - I hope to do the same when I finally finish the CF which I've been doing in stages since 2004. The only other advice I would give you is to carry a small amount of 'mugging money' with you so that if you are 'approached' you can let them find that. As a fifty something woman who walks alone I find that looking confident and strong with purpose has served me well - mostly! Forewarned is forearmed, so travel safely whichever route you take. PeregrinaIr

  7. Annie, good luck my friend and walk in peace and health. I'll look forward to your blogs.
    Buen Camino...Patty

  8. Thanks peregrinair! Good advice!

    Thanks Patty

  9. Go to Sevilla, since you were looking forward to it and then take the bus to Zafra. No different than taking the bus from Madrid to Zafra. have fun! IF you decide to change the plan, go to the Camino del Norte. It is gorgeous!

  10. Hi Lillian! I'm already in Merida today. I feel it was the right decision.


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