Video of Nancy’s talk: The Smart Camino: Pilgrimage in the Internet Age (Jan 2017, London)
By Nancy L. Frey
In January 2017, I gave the keynote address at the Confraternity of St James’ Annual General Meeting in London titled The Smart Camino: Pilgrimage in the Internet Age. In the talk I briefly review some general changes I’ve noticed over the last 25 years and then present my research on the incorporation of new media technology into the Camino and how this has impacted being a pilgrim. The rise of the Internet is the single most important change in the Camino during this period and has dramatically impacted how people engage with the pilgrimage experience before, during and after the Camino is over.
The video is long. To help facilitate listening to the parts that are of most interest, I’ve broken down the video into segments and themes. Please let me know if you have any questions or observations.
0:00-1:00 - Intro to video
1:00-4:35 - Intro about talk and Nancy’s 25 years’ experience on Camino
4:35-5:30 - Nature of change on Camino
5:30-22:15 - General Changes on the Camino over the last 25 years
• 6:55 - Pilgrim’s Office and Statistics
• 7:45 - Numbers
• 8:27 - Sex
• 8:50 - Internationalization
• 10:11 - Mode of Travel
• 10:50 - Roads Traveled and Development of other routes
• 11:44 - Acquisition of the Compostela Certificate & Certificate of Distance
• 14:18 - Motivations and Expectations
• 16:33 - Infrastructure
• 17:50 - John, the Pilgrim Helper and Red tape
• 18:29 - Equipment
• 19:13 - Invasion of our Attentional Space
• 19:42 - Graffiti & Pokemon Go
• 21:08 - The Cathedral: Security, protecting patrimony and limited access
• 21:33 - What happened to the wild dogs?
22:15-23:38 - Changes related to Internet Age. Tech is a tool but not a neutral tool.
23:38-26:44 - Pilgrimage/Camino is a Rite of Passage with three stages: Prep, During, Return. “While the physical component has remained relatively the same, for most people the mental component has changed dramatically…” The Camino in the Cloud.
26:44 – 35:47 - Stage 1: Preparation for the Camino in the Internet Age. Anxiety is normal. Information overload, we overly complicate the Camino, developing pilgrim identity pre-Camino
• 33:12 - What to take and packing lists
35:52 – 1:02:15 - Stage 2: Being on the Camino
• 35:52 - Outcomes of preparation and spectrum of mobile tech usage
• 38:45 - Experience of time and place impacted, Incorporation of “Tech time”; bracketed time away disrupted, stay inside comfort zone
• 42:56 - Internet age pilgrims have new needs and new neediness; my sacred tech time; increase virtual connections and decrease face-to-face connections
• 47:10 - Impact on Camino community and social relations
• 49:53 - Relationship to Home; the importance of “missing” and “longing”; collaborative pilgrimages
• 53:48 - Digital Detox pilgrimages
• 56:25 - Shift in thinking and expectations about “what is the Camino?”; controlling the Camino and fear management; “not having a bed” anxiety; having a “Trip Advisor” Camino; dilution of the power of our experiences
• 1:00:30 - Tech industry encourages us to trust tech and not ourselves; WiFi App; Progressively outsourcing skills to phone and atrophying those abilities within ourselves.
1:02:15-1:05 - Reaching Santiago – transition point; experiences mediated by phones; losing trust in our memories; capturing moments vs contemplating moments
1:05-1:11 - Stage 3: The Return Home
1:11-1:14:59 - Conclusions
|Tour No.||Tour Name||Dates||Price||No. Days/Nights||Spaces Available
|Tour 1||Hiking Tenerife Island: Lava, Sea & Stars||15-21 Jan 2018||2325€||7||SOLD OUT!|
|Tour 2||Camino de Santiago (Pamplona to Santiago)||2-12 May 2018||3475€||11||2 Spaces Available|
|Tour 3||Camino de Santiago (Pamplona to Santiago)||6-16 June 2018||3475€||11||1 Spaces Available|
|Tour 4||Galicia: Hiking From Sea to Mountain||3-10 July 2018||1975€||8||2 Spaces Available|
|Tour 5||Galicia: Food & Wine Journey||3-9 Sept 2018||2625€||7||SOLD OUT!|
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Canadian photographer and blogger France Fehr joined us along the Camino de Santiago in June 2015. The Camino rarely fails to inspire the artistic eye and France was no exception. We are very happy to be able to share one of her entries from her blog FUN & LIFE. Enjoying life to the max. France blogged extensively about her 11 day Camino trip with us and this last entry "Camino in photography" captures well the whole journey.
Today, I will not post about Barcelona yet but I will share some photos taken on the Camino. (June 2015)
We were lucky to have Nancy and Jose as guides for this great adventure.
On Foot in Spain is the link if you ever are up to do a walking/hiking educational journey in Spain or Portugal. You would be having a good time .
Now , the photos with little description! But if you want to read and see more on our adventure with On Foot in Spain, I have written 11 more texts ( you can find them on this blog). It was a real pleasure to write our story and to share it here.
The shell, is the symbol on the Camino. We all received a shell to wear around our neck or put on our bag or just to bring home as a memory.
St-James. The history of the Camino de Santiago goes back at the beginning of the 9th century (year 814) moment of the discovery of the tomb of the evangelical apostle of the Iberian Peninsula. Since this discovery, Santiago de Compostela becomes a peregrination point of the entire European continent.
Pamplona is the first city where we met with our group. I really liked that city . We had time to walk and get a feel of the place. It has a nice square where people come and sit on benches and visit. Pamplona is very famous for the run of the bulls.
Alto del pardon. monument to the Pilgrim. A 14 iron figures of natural size.
This man had set up a table with little crafts and food. He is only asking for donation.
Our friend, David, took a photo of me at the Sta Maria La Real Monastery in Najera. David and I got along because he was taking as many photos as me.
Sometimes, my husband also took photos of me! Thanks, Stephen.
Food never tastes so delicious when you have walked a few km.
Walking “la meseta” on a beautiful day.
A snack … Little Bee is never too far .
Part of our group listening to Nancy while she explains history of the San Zoilo Monastery in Carrion de Los Condes . They were all happy to be sitting after 20 km walk.
Sam with the rock I brought with me. As I didn’t want to leave it at the “Cruz de Ferro”, I gave it to him as a souvenir. It was a rock I painted a few years ago.
Rainy day on the Camino…
Always a place to stop for coffee if we want to.
Cyclists on the Camino
David is taking photos … and I take a photo of him!
Nancy , our guide . With Jose , they have been leading those adventure for 17 years. The best guides for this experience. Great people with so much knowledge to share.
A monk at the Monastery in Samos.
Jose is mixing the salad for our picnic.
Some animals we saw while we were on the Camino…
On our last picnic, we enjoyed some cider !
Thanks to Saint-James, we had this wonderful walking experience.
and thanks to Nancy and Jose, this trip was a success.
Thanks for reading ! my next post will be about Barcelona. A unique experience. Maybe it will inspire you to do it.
There are some people you never forget! Virginia and George Havens traveled with us 12 years ago in May 2003 along the Camino de Santiago. They formed part of a special group that came together as strangers and ended up sharing many wonderful moments and developing friendships that still endure today. I have a photo of that memorable group taken at the Camino’s literal high point – la Cruz de Ferro (the Iron Cross). Looking at each face brings back a flood of memories. Some of them went on to travel with us two or even three times. Others we have kept in touch with via email and holiday cards.
One such special couple is Virginia and George. At the time they were a spry 78 and 79 and they are still going strong! Jose and I fondly remember how beautiful Ginnie was always lovingly cared for by George. Ginnie’s a birder and I can still remember hearing about her work with birds and building birdhouses. As we walked she’d point out birds I couldn’t even see. Many times over the years I have wished she were along on other walks to keep teaching me! On that trip we also discovered that Ginnie and I and another woman on the trip, Nancy Grandfield, are all Kappa Kappa Gamma sisters. That was a great coincidence! At the end of walk, during our final dinner at the Parador in Santiago de Compostela, George got up, ordered champagne for the group and gave a very special and meaningful toast! What a couple!
Over the years we have kept in touch and George sent me an email telling me about Ginnie’s continuing education through Case Western Reserve University. He wrote:
Her latest [class] was Sports History which required writing a short paper on an object related to some athletic activity (baseball bat, football, etc.). Ginnie chose her scallop shell and we thought you would enjoy seeing her report to which she attached a copy of the Camino certificate that you gave us.
We did enjoy seeing her report and asked if we could have permission to publish it here with a photo of Ginnie. We hope you enjoy this as much as we did! We greatly enjoy seeing how the Camino continues to evolve in people’s lives and can inspire projects such as these 12 years later! Buen Camino, Ginnie and George!
The Scallop Shell
By Virginia C. Havens
The symbol that evokes memories of achievement, endurance and adventure is the white scallop shell hanging on a cord at my desk. This type of shell was first worn on the hat of St. James, patron warrior saint of Spain, and today it signifies a completed pilgrimage walk on the Camino de Santiago across Spain.
First, a brief history of St. James, a disciple of Jesus, and this 500-mile trek to Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain. James came to Spain shortly after the crucifixion to spread Christianity. On returning to Jerusalem, he was beheaded by Herod and his body sent in a casket by the other disciples back to Spain for burial. After some 800 years, the burial spot was forgotten and unknown, but on a certain night the field was illuminated by the stars and with this guidance the burial casket of St. James was unearthed and discovered. This startling discovery resulted in a sacred pilgrimage to this holy site that drew pilgrims from all over Europe.
The Camino starts in eastern Spain in the Pyrenees Mountains that separate France and Spain. It descends through Roncesvalles (a historic location where Charlemagne once fought the infidel Moors) then on to Pamplona. Logrono, Burgos, Leon, Bierzo, Arzua to Santiago to be blessed in the great cathedral there. In the middle ages, pilgrims walked the 500 miles across Spain seeking redemption and a spiritual encounter with St. James, and receiving forgiveness for their sins. This walk along this ancient road became a venerated tradition and Santiago became a popular pilgrimage destination. Last year over a million individuals were reported to have traversed the Camino and then received the scallop shell to reward and verify their experience.
In my years of reading I would come across references to this famous “road” and I would think “Oh the experience of walking it...walking, thinking a and meditating” with all of Spain stretching out before me, all open, no restrictions, no time table...just me and the world.
In 2003 my husband and I decided to tackle the Camino, at least a part of it. We would do 100 miles in 12 days in an arrangement that extended across the entire road, but avoided the less interesting parts. It was for me a magnificent experience and the shell recreates memories of golden wheat fields filled with red poppies, impressive ancient buildings, bridges and churches, warm and kind mountain people, owls and great beech trees and exotic foods. And then the memory of walking 8 to 10 miles each day on weary, weary feet, then the last demanding push for 12 miles up an almost unending mountainside on a never-to-be-forgotten day.
What are the lasting, indelible effects of such an experience? First of all, I am always aware of having the gumption to do such a trek at a senior age. Then having the courage to cross the ocean, plant my feet on strange soil and move out on a 100-mile effort, and accomplish it. It was a singular decision in my life – that produced a bold, unique and highly satisfying experience that confirmed my commitment to an adventurous life. It reinforced my love and appreciation for Spain. It left me with regrets that we were not able to do the tough trek to the Everest base camp at 18,000 feet in Nepal (which we had planned) and on to the Antarctic in the footsteps of Shackleton.
Cultural anthropologist Nancy Frey PhD, and writer, mountaineer Jose Placer!
Both Nancy and Jose have always held both walking and learning close to their hearts.
Their paths crossed while Nancy was conducting her doctoral dissertation research on the Camino de Santiago in the hamlet of Roncesvalles (Navarre) and Jose was just beginning a 450 mile walk across Spain.
Their paths rejoined a month later in Santiago de Compostela and since then have not diverged.
Together they co-authored the chapters on Galicia, Cordillera Cantabrica (Picos de Europa) and the Camino de Santiago for Lonely Planet’s Walking in Spain (1999 and 2003) and co-authored Lonely Planet's 1st edition of Walking in Scotland (2001).
Nancy and Jose started On Foot In Spain Walking & Hiking Educational Adventures in 1999. They have three children, Jacob (8), Marina (3)and Sam (born 11/27/06), and live on the Galician coast.
Nancy L. Frey, PhD
Nancy’s love of hiking grew from annual summer trips to Yosemite led by a Dad who always knew the name of every tree and who reveled in leading his children to inspirational points. Thus it wasn’t too surprising that when she selected her subject material for her doctoral dissertation in cultural anthropology (UC Berkeley) one very attractive element of it was the prospect of traversing the north of Spain on foot.
Since her first walk in 1993, Nancy has walked the Camino de Santiago numerous times and cycled it as well. In her book on the modern day journey, Pilgrim Stories: On and Off the Road to Santiago (UC Press, 1998), Nancy brings to life the contemporary way by discussing pilgrims' motivations, mishaps and discoveries while walking as well as providing insights into why the route is so popular today.
Nancy has also lectured for ElderHostel and Smithsonian Institution on their educational tours in Spain, Portugal and France. She has also taught a course on the Camino de Santiago at the University of Santiago and is currently researching the relationship between landscape and experience.
In her free time she enjoys reading, swimming, SCUBA diving, kayaking, tending her flower garden and cooking savory pies and tarts.
Jose Daniel Placer
A native of Santiago de Compostela, Jose received his law degree from the University of Santiago and then made a 180 degree turn away from lawyering and back to his real passion: children and the outdoors.
He has taught outdoor education and coaches soccer, basketball and volleyball.
With Europe as his backyard, Jose has hiked extensively both within and beyond Spain since he was a teenager.
Despite having enjoyed the Italian Dolomites, and hiking in the Alps while studying law at the University of Passau in Germany, his favorite stomping ground continues to be Spain’s Picos de Europa.
Jose especially enjoys writing short stories, carpentry, restoring furniture, working his garden, kayaking and mountain biking.
Each time we set out on a trail we go with the idea that to walk is to learn. Slowing down to the rhythm of your feet inevitably brings more to your immediate attention and consequently allows for greater speculation and wonder.
On our journeys into northern Spain’s exceptionally beautiful back roads we want to give you the opportunity to challenge yourself physically (without overdoing) and at the same time pique your curiosity by pointing out the not so obvious as well as providing insights into the wonders of the everyday.
Art, architecture, anthropology, folklore, history, Spanish fiestas, cuisine - we interlace them all into each day of your tour. Our carefully designed walks, combining charming accommodations in rural inns, monasteries, and hotels with the finest in local cuisine, will immerse you in the riches of northern Spain’s culture life and landscapes.
…the helping hands when the going got tough…
Such a special time! … The sights, the sounds; the misty morning light and starry sky at night at Axpe; the picnics, and idyllic settings; the going up and the going down of the trails; the enchanting forests and the panoramic rural and coastal views; the history, the myths, the saints, the culture and even the jokes!; the storytelling, the card games and the camaraderie of the group; and the helping hands when the going got tough. And so much more!
Lesley, Melbourne, Australia (4th time On Foot in Spain traveler!)
Sept 2014, Basque Country
this Pilgrim’s journey was deeper, fuller and richer from the gift of On Foot in Spain
I will write something down the road on Facebook or the website for On Foot in Spain because I want others to know the gift of this journey from Nancy’s & Jose’s incredible knowledge shared about the special places on the Camino and the hikes designed to bring the Camino alive for each of us. Who could forget the wonderful picnic lunches each day unique to each region we traveled through (how I missed the picnic the day after I left you). All in all this Pilgrim’s journey was deeper, fuller and richer from the gift of On Foot in Spain and the love and commitment of Nancy and Jose to the El Camino de Santiago and to each of us on our pilgrimages shared.
Pat, Shingle Springs, California, USA
Sept 2014, Camino de Santiago
the group’s collective experience was enriched by the expert facilitation…
Nancy and Jose possess this wonderful talent of bringing people together in their trademark and subtle and gentle way. Meeting and getting to know this fantastic group of people was one of the many highlights of the walk. I am convinced that the group’s collective experience was enriched by the expert facilitation of Nancy, Jose and Sam. Thank you for making this such a fantastic experience …and for your skill and thoughtfulness.
Lisa, Sparta, Michigan, USA
Sept 2014, Basque Country
the warmth and friendship of your wonderful family
We not only survived your well planned walk through the beautiful Basque country but also really enjoyed every minute of it.
What did we enjoy the most? The trails were wonderful, the accommodation in the comfort bracket and sometimes really interesting, the universally proclaimed lunches, (carted and prepared by Jose,) the history and culture of this amazing Basque country and its friendly people and its special food and wine (especially Pinchos) the unforgettable lunch at Etxebarri and even your jokes all bring back great memories. However it was the warmth and friendship of your wonderful family and the amazing camaraderie of an eclectic walking group that stood out.
Suffice to say we had a wonderful time!
Barry & Maureen, Melbourne, Australia
Sept 2014, Basque Country
It was magical.
What a beautiful note, Nancy. It sums up well the tremendous experience of sharing the Camino with this very special group of people.
We all have much to look back on. You provided us with a marvellous, varied, and rich experience. Even without the small miracle of a highly compatible group of merry folk, it would have been a wonderful trip. WITH them -- and you and Jose -- it was magical.
Dale, Toronto, Canada
May 2014, Camino de Santiago Tour
Your love for this magical walk shows in everything you do...
I can’t thank you both enough for the wonderful time you gave me in showing me your Camino. Your love for this magical walk certainly shows in everything you do, and it is something that I will always remember and draw strength from.
Maureen, Sydney, Australia
June 2014, Camino de Santiago
Taken to the next level!
There's a saying in San Diego: "You can't have a bad day at the beach!" I would suggest that you can't have a bad Camino. I believe that anyone who travels the Camino will be positively changed either physically, mentally and/or spiritually.
However, if you are able to travel the Camino with Nancy and Jose that experience will be taken to the next level. You will come away with a much deeper understanding of what the Camino is truly all about. Nancy and Jose LIVE the Camino. It is their life's passion to instill in each of us their love of the unique history, the beauty of the natural surroundings, the fabulous foods, the vintage wines, the authentic culture and the genuine people who make up the Camino.
I have been taken to the next level, and would highly recommend this journey to you.
Joan, San Diego, CA , USA
Compostela, April 2014
You brought the best out in everybody and allowed us to be ourselves.
The tour had many dimensions for me – not in any order. Weather was fabulous, loved all the local wines and food. The variation of accomodationn. It was phyiscal, it had spirituality and history, we had a great group, it was fun ,relaxed and organised without being too structured_- congratulations to you both, you brought the best out in everybody and allowed us to be ourselves.
Jillian, Queensland, Australia
May 2014, Camino de Santiago
….warmth, kindness and generosity of spirit….
On a personal note, thank you for guiding us through this remarkable journey. It was a privilege for us to have you accompany us and share in your warmth, kindness and generosity of spirit along the Camino.
S & B, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
June 2014, Camino de Santiago
There are not enough thanks in the world!!!
Even after being home for only two weeks I am still processing the entire experience. It was more spiritual than I had expected, and I can see some potential long-term effects in how I view "Life" and my place in it. How wonderful that you are conduits for providing such experiences! Northern Spain was even more breathtaking than I had expected; the scenery, food, and most of all people! We had an exceptional group (your best, remember?) led by two dynamic and passionate human beings. There are not enough thanks in the world!!!
Colleen, Newburyport, Massachusetts, USA
Sept 2014, Camino de Santiago Tour
Set the bar very high….
Nancy, we are reminiscing of our happy holiday with you ALL the time. You have set the bar very high for any future tour guides. It was the best.
Mary-Anne and David, South Australia, Australia
May 2014, Camino de Santiago Tour
In December 2013 the BBC aired a three part pilgrimage documentary with adventure traveler and writer Simon Reeve as the presenter. I was consulted by the BBC for their film preparation as an expert on the Camino de Santiago and then interviewed by Simon Reeve in Santiago de Compostela in June 2013. A small part of that interview appears in Episode 2 of Pilgrimage with Simon Reeve in which Simon covers pilgrimage in northern France, along the Camino de Santiago, and then, finally, in Rome. In this clip from Pilgrimage with Simon Reeve, Episode 2, I answer Simon’s questions about Santiago de Compostela as a pilgrimage city, about Santiago or St James as a multi-faceted figure (Apostle, Pilgrim and Warrior) and about the sticky issue of whether or not the bones of the Apostle James are really in Santiago de Compostela or not.
For more information about the full episode, please see the BBC website. This segment in which Nancy Frey appears with Simon Reeve is reproduced with permission from the BBC.
Here is the direct link: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01kqjg3/episodes/guide.
Brazilian photographer Marina de Almeida Prado joined us in June 2012 along the Camino de Santiago.
Here she shares with us and comments on some of her favorite photos from her pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago. To see more of her work, please visit her website.
Marina de Almeida Prado's Photo Essay on the Camino (2012)
In September 2010, exactly on the 14th, I woke up thinking about the Camino. I knew absolutely nothing about the Camino. I only heard of a few people who had already done it. I eagerly started researching. But a few days later I was completely discouraged, because in my current life with a son, husband, job and home, the thought of leaving everything for 40 days off was just impossible.
One day, just because I couldn’t get it out of my mind, I posted the word "CAMINO" on Facebook and immediately a friend asked: Did you do it? I said no and that I would love to do it but 40 days was not feasible. And she told me, there were other ways to do the Camino and told me about the website www.onfootinspain.com.
She told me: “Choose which way and how many days you want to do it. I recommend it!”
My contact with Nancy began on the same day, but due to lack of vacancies, I waited until June 2012.
And on June 3 I left for Spain. This would be my first trip all alone after 12 years. A very special moment. I chose the route "On Glory Roads," The Camino de Santiago From Roncesvalles to Santiago de Compostela in 12 days.
I’m a photographer and I took all my equipment with me. But I wanted to photograph every second of the journey and by the third day I opted to take pictures with my Iphone 4S so I could use the effects of Instagram and immediately post all my emotions to the world.
There were places and people during my journey that touched me so much. During my time on the path, away from my daily life, I realize what a very privileged person I am. What a great life I have and that I am a truly blessed human being.
One thing I can say for sure: after 12 days in the company of 11 wonderful Australians, 1 American (Nancy), and 2 Spanish guys (Jose and Sam), something very special was born inside of me. Unforgettable!
I’ve attached some of my favorite photos. Click here to follow the link to the gallery. Here are my comments about some of the photos:
I couldn’t believe how gorgeous this bridge was. The water reflection was just amazing! The most beautiful bridge I’ve ever seen!
The second most beautiful view of my path. I felt like standing there, time stopped.
This moment was my favorite, because this view is the winner! I could feel the immensity, the liberty. My freedom!!
On the path, lots of stones piled up. These really impressed me.
The picnics were always a pleasant surprise, with different kinds of cheese, cold cuts and salad every day. A moment we all look forward to! And,the pilgrim bar, long-awaited throughout the path by all of us!
Another very special moment in my path...The deepest blue sunset of my journey. The view from my bedroom window. I think I could grasp the meaning of blue.
I was very touched when I arrived at the Iron Cross. One of the simplest and most meaningful moments of the Camino.
For a moment, this iron bucket made me go back to my childhood at the farm.
Close to Cebreiro. A very special place.
The mass, the smell, the people and the place. Pure emotion.
Marina de Almeida Prado
Fotógrafa - MAP . PHOTO
+ 55 11 999102932
First blog. First day of the new year 2010. A good day for firsts. Today the Holy Door of the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, Spain was reopened ritually marking the beginning of the 2010 Holy Year (An/~o Santo). Holy Years occur in a cyclical pattern of every 11, 6, 5, 6 years when the feast day of Santiago/St James the Greater, July 25th, falls on a Sunday. The last Holy Year was in 2004 and the next one will not occur until 2021. Pilgrims from all over the world will walk the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage this year and end their journey by passing through the Holy Door.
The first time I walked through the Holy Door was in 1993 after I finished my first pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago/Road of St James. Little did I know how much would transpire between walking through that door the first time and this latest passage 17 years later. In 1993 I entered with my pilgrim companions on a very hot July afternoon after waiting in line to enter for nearly an hour. The cathedral was packed and I felt overwhelmed with the emotion of the arrival. Today, I also, unexpectedly, found myself overwhelmed with emotion by the journey through that doorway. This time I was accompanied by my partner of 16 years and our three children. Gratitude was the prominent feeling. As we walked through the door and got on line to ‘dar un abrazo al santo’, ie, give a hug to the saint, all those years, and how much I have to be thankful for, came rushing through me. It was an ideal way to start this new year.
On this blog I hope to tell part of this story – what led to that first initial crossing and what transpired in between. Little by little.