Here I go...

Finding magic under the stars of the Camino Santiago de Compostela

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Internet Along the Camino

When I first began walking the Camino, 
the whole world didn't carry a cell phone. 

 If you wanted to get in touch with family back home, 
you had few options.

Some of the albergues had computers that were available to the pilgrims. 
You would pay a Euro and get 15 minutes on the computer. 

If the computer was lined up, or did not work,
 it was a matter of finding a locatorio if you wanted to send an email. 
Most larger cities had locatorios. 
You just had to keep an eye out for the sign.

Locotorios are places where you can sit down to a computer 
and pay by the minute. 
They often also had telephone services 
where you could make international calls home at a very good price. 
Whether or not the computers are secure is a good question,
 and doing online banking in a place like this
 is probably not a good idea.

The booths are for telephone calls.

You can still find locotorios in large cities, 
but many have been put out of business by the cell-phone mania.

Today, everybody and his brother carries a cell phone or tablet 
and free wi-fi (pronounced wee-fee in Spain)
 is pretty much everywhere!

Almost every village will have someplace 
where you can sit and use your device. 
Sometimes there are signs posted. 
Sometimes you simply have to ask. 
But the Camino is definitely wired.

Is this a good thing?
I don't know.
I'm not convinced. 

I remember the freedom in NOT having to carry a phone.  
In NOT having to find a place to plug it in each night. 
In NOT having to worry about someone stealing it. 

These days I must carry a phone
 because I accompany groups of pilgrims 
and they need to be able to get in touch with me. 
But do I like it? 
Not really...

The phone is like a tether preventing full freedom. 
And really, if there is an emergency, 
there are 50 other pilgrims that will pass you in the next hour 
and most will be connected.

So yes, 
there is internet along The Way.

But do you REALLY need it?

Think about it. 
It can be refreshing not being available by telephone 24/7 
and it wasn't so many years ago when people waited 
until we checked our message machine at home 
before returning their call.

There's much to be said for being unconnected.

Especially on a spiritual journey…

How can you hear the voice of God if your phone is ringing?

* * * * * * * * * *

If you MUST carry and use a cell phone, please be considerate of your fellow pilgrims. 

Turn the ringer OFF in the albergue.
Turn the ringer OFF in churches.
Turn the ringer OFF in restaurants.
Do NOT talk on your cellphone inside the albergue or right outside windows

Do NOT talk on your cellphone in churches.
Do NOT talk on your cellphone in restaurants.
Do NOT hog the electric plug when charging your unit. 
Do NOT walk away from a charging phone - you may return to find it gone.
Do NOT put electronics in bag transported packs

If you use the internet in a bar, BUY SOMETHING.
If you can't connect, ask them to write down the contrasigna (password)

Consider getting a Spanish SIM card for your unlocked phone. 
Remember, roaming charges can add up, so using your phone on the trail is not advised.

* * * * * * * * * *

My advice?
Unless you have considerable health issues 
or a burning desire to contact home every night, 
consider just not taking the danged thing…



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