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
“…but having traversed the banks of the Orinoco, the Cordilleras of Peru, and the most beautiful valleys of Mexico, I own that I have never beheld a prospect more varied, more attractive, more harmonious in the distribution of the masses of verdure and rocks, than the western coast of Teneriffe.”
---Alexander von Humboldt, 1799, German naturalist and explorer
Do you feel like a winter getaway? Jose and Nancy have enjoyed traveling to Tenerife, part of the Canary Island archipelago, over the years as a family and a couple. We would love to share this spectacular island with you. We have created a unique tour designed to bring you into contact with the remarkable variety of landscapes on this special island that once was an essential stepping stone for all New World journeys and exploration of the Americas and beyond. Located 100km off the coast of Morocco, Tenerife enjoys a privileged climate making hiking and walking a pleasurable year round activity.
Tenerife rises out of the ocean and climbs to an impressive 3718m (12,198ft) at its summit, the volcano Mt. Teide, which dominates views of the island no matter where you are. Mt Teide is the highest volcano that rises out of the ocean floor outside of the Hawaiian islands. Jose and I have planned walks in the vast range of microclimates and landscapes including the steep, lush semi-tropical laurel forests of the Anaga Peninsula where the variety of flora make it a botanist’s paradise; the barren, lunar landscapes encircling the base of Mt Teide remarkable for their colors and habitats where the toughest flora and fauna eke out an existence; coastal walks through black volcanic "aa" (malpais in Spanish) rock and flower-laden, cliff paths that give stunning views to the azure waters below. We will also enter the great volcano’s innards and become cavers for an afternoon as we explore the famed Cueva del Viento (Cave of the Wind).
As always Nancy and Jose will weave the history of the island into our walks to understand the aboriginal inhabitants of the islands (the "Guanches"), their conquest at the hands of the Spanish on path to the new world and the remarkable economy of wine and sugar that resulted from the conquest. We will also enjoy the unique Canarian cuisine and their wines which once were the pride of European tables and referenced by Shakespeare himself. Due to Tenerife's unique conditions, the national park around Teide contains one of the world's most important astronomical observation centers. As part of the tour we will explore the heavens from our privileged vantage point with a local expert. January in Tenerife, depending on where you are on the island, can have highly varying temperatures. We will also be going, over the course of the week, from sea level to the summit of Teide (mostly via cable car!). In January it often snows on Teide but at the coast you can be in shorts and swimming in the ocean. Consequently, it's a fun tour with great variety in which you'll want to prepare for several seasons.
Tour duration: 7 days & 7 nights
Walking Level: Medium to Medium Hard. We have tried to select walks suitable for a medium level ability but it is important to keep in mind that the island is volcanic which makes for steep, irregular landscapes that will require stamina, stability, confidence on uneven terrain and, on one walk, control of vertigo. We will be walking between 3km and 11km (1.8mi to 6.8mi) on a daily basis Walking poles are highly recommended for this tour.
Walking Days: 7 total
Tour Start/End Point: La Laguna, Tenerife. The Tenerife Norte airport (TFN) is located very conveniently to the small town of La Laguna where we start and end the tour. Daily direct flights are available from Madrid (MAD).
Group Size: This inaugural tour will be limited to a total of 7 people.
Tour Price: 2325E per person in double accommodation
Single Supplement: The single supplement fee is €215 for this tour.
Departure Dates 2018
15-21 January 2018
BOOK NOW FOR 2018
What is and isn’t included: Trip price includes accommodations (double occupancy), all meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) each day except 2 dinners (Days 3 & 5), pre-departure information, all transportation during the trip, entrance fees to museums and activities as designated in the itinerary is included and Jose and Nancy will accompany the group.
Tour does not include: Airfare to Spain or Tenerife is not included nor is required health/travel insurance or transportation to and from the starting and end point (San Cristobal de la Laguna, Tenerife, Spain). Personal amenities such as drinks and snacks at end of walks or in free time are not included.
Tenerife Island: Lava, Sea & Stars
Day 1 - La Laguna - 6.2km/3.8mi
We’ll meet at our hotel in the town of San Cristobál de la Laguna located 10 minutes from the Tenerife Norte Airport. After our orientation we’ll shuttle east to the coastal loop walk of the Malpaís de Güimar and get our first exposure to different types of lava including “malpaís” or “aa” for its rough, irregular surfaces as we ascend the Montaña de Mar and loop around the Montaña Grande, two young (10,000 year old) volcanoes. We will also enjoy the rich flora that ekes out an existence in these harsh yet beautiful habitats. We return to La Laguna for dinner enjoying Canarian cuisine. (6.2km/3.8mi)
Day 2 - La Orotava - 7.7km/4.8mi
The day starts with a guided visit of the beautiful colonial town founded by the Spanish when they conquered the Canary Islands and Tenerife at the end of the 15th C. Designed on a grid-plan La Laguna (550m) became the model for future colonial architecture in the New World and became an UNESCO World Heritage City in 1999. (1km/.6mi). We then shuttle to the Anaga Natural Park and we will hike from Cruz de Carmen (1018m) to Chinamada (663m) descending through the special laurisilva (laurel forest) characteristic of the lush, humid sub-tropical climate of the northern part of the island.(6.6km/4.2mi) In Chinamada we’ll have lunch at one of the cave houses and then shuttle to the Casa del Vino (House of Wine) in El Sauzal. The Spaniards brought wine culture to the Canary Islands and became major producers and exporters of wine to European tables and the New World. The islands still have a strong wine tradition and we will enjoy the history and a tasting on this visit. We spend the next two nights in the lovely town of La Orotava. Tonight we’ll have dinner together here in a local restaurant.
Day 3 - La Orotava - 7.9km/4.9mi
In the morning we’ll shuttle to the hamlet of Afur (270m) also in the Anaga Peninsula.
Today we do a spectacular, yet hard, hike from Afur down to the Tamadiste beach and then to the village of Taganana. From Afur we descend a beautiful, fragrant canyon full of native plants (cacti, flowering plants, wildflowers) to the beach. We enjoy the beautiful views of the dramatic coastline at Tamadiste and then make a steep ascent back to the cliffs and then progressively ascend along the high cliffs (342m) and then drops into the village of Taganana (226m) affording constant stunning views of the coast. The old terraced vineyards surprise for their location and variety. (7.9km/4.9mi) In Taganana we’ll have lunch at Canarian restaurant and then shuttle back to La Orotava. In La Orotava we’ll visit The Teide National Park visitor center. Afterwards you’ll have free time to explore La Orotava on your own and to have dinner.
Day 4 - Santiago del Teide - 5.1km/3.1mi
After breakfast we shuttle down to Puerto de la Cruz where we’ll do a lovely cliff-walk to the Mirador de San Pedro (172m). This paved walkway connects two points along the coast weaving in and out of small settlements and seeking always to give you stunning views of the coast and the pounding deep blue sea below. The walk ends in an original Canarian palm grove surrounded by banana plantations. (4.1km/2.5mi) After our walk and a refreshment, we’ll shuttle to the spectacular Cueva del Viento (Cave of the Wind) to learn about the volcanic island from the inside. On the visit we’ll become cavers and wear special equipment to descend into the bowels of the earth and this large lava tube. (1km/.6mi) After lunch we’ll visit the coastal town of Garachico, once the major port in the north, but whose fate changed when a volcanic lava flow destroyed part of the town and its port in 1706. Shuttle to the high small town, Santiago del Teide (1000m), and the hotel where we’ll spend two nights.
Day 5 - Santiago del Teide - 10.7km/8.2mi
From the hotel we’ll shuttle to our trailhead that starts at the small agricultural town of San Jose de los Llanos. This wonderful loop hike combines a very interesting array of landscapes from the cultivated fields outside of San Jose de los Llanos, to the lapilli (small lava stone gravel) paths within the peaceful Canarian Pine forest and then opens up to the black ‘aa’ (malpaís) lava flows of the 1909 Chinyero eruption, the last one to trouble Tenerife. Meanwhile we get great views of Teide imposing above it all before we loop back through the forest and the fields to San Jose. (10.7km/8.2mi) We’ll have our picnic at the end of the walk and the return to the hotel where you have the option to have a free afternoon or take a boating excursion to see the famed Gigantes cliffs and hopefully spot the whales and dolphins that thrive in the waters around the Canary Islands. The waters off the southwest corner of Tenerife are an internationally well-known cetacean observation area.
Day 6 - Parador de las Cañadas – Teide National Park - (2.8km/1.7mi)
From Santiago de Teide we shuttle to the Teide National Park and the lower cable car (teleférico) station (2356m/7729ft).*** The cable car will whisk us up to the station (3555m/11663ft) near the top of the Teide Peak crater (3718m/12198ft). According to Guanche beliefs, Guayota, the god of evil and darkness inhabited Teide, one of the gateways to hell and the underworld. We will we ascend to the crater as well as Pico Viejo. (2.8km/1.7mi). After we return back down by cable car we’ll shuttle to the Parador located at the foot of Teide and set in the midst of this high, open and desolate lunar landscape. Today we’ll dine in the Parador and then enjoy a look at the heavens with a local expert from this privileged viewing area. Tenerife’s unique conditions as an island with relatively little light pollution and a latitude favorable for seeing much of the visible sky, has made it a mecca for astronomers and has important international observatories.
Day 7 - La Laguna - 4.3km/2.7mi
After breakfast we’ll walk from the Parador to the wonderful Roques de García (2160m/7086ft) rock formations on a loop walk through the native flora and volcanic rocks which then steeply descends through different types of lava as we encircle these monumental formations left behind after eons of erosion wore down the softer surrounding rocks. (4.3km/2.7mi) Shuttle to the Montaña Blanca to see the lunar landscapes and white lapilli lava stones. We leave behind the lunar landscapes of highland Tenerife and descend back through corona forestal (belt of dense pine woodland) to La Laguna. We’ll have our farewell dinner in La Laguna and spend the night there.
The Camino is Life Affirming
Nancy L. Frey
25 October 2016
Life affirming. That was how one woman described what the Camino had meant to her. Looking at this photo of our hands held together upon arrival in the Plaza de Obradoiro, I feel that sense of affirmation strongly. Each person comes to the Camino at a different age, stage and place in his or her life and this is clearly shown through how different our hands are. Some are smooth and unblemished. Others appear wise with age and work. Some come adorned and others plain. A week ago most of those hands had little relation to one another. Now, though, by the end of the week those hands created, as one person put it, a quilt of experience together that will endure and give warmth for a long time to come. Many people claim that the Camino changes you. It can but I think that’s a very big expectation to have before starting. More often I see the Camino opening eyes and doors to possibilities. Challenging people in a good way physically, emotionally and psychologically. Creating opportunities to question attitudes, beliefs and actions. It can be a doorway to the self, others, nature, something higher and/or deeper. People feel good on the Camino. They also feel exhausted, worn-out, and sometimes struggle to get through each day. Sometimes it’s precisely that adversity paired with simplifying one’s life, as you do when on the Camino, that makes people feel vibrant and connected with something fundamental about the human experience. The Camino often gives the pilgrim the gift of clarity and insight into what is most important in life. Time and reflection, though, are necessary to bring those gifts home and into one’s heart and actions. Our hands together in common purpose are witness to the life affirming reality of the Camino and the continuing possibility of what is yet to come once we return home.
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.
Walking with Focused Awareness
By Nancy L. Frey
In a previous article I reviewed Thom Hartmann’s book Walking your Blues Away and outlined his technique for problem solving when walking. It’s a very useful technique and applies a type of focused thinking while walking which often helps to resolve questions you put forth to yourself and even past trauma. When stumped or blocked mentally, it’s often helpful to get up out of your chair, breathe deeply and go outside ‘to clear your mind’. Many times you return feeling refreshed, renewed and even sometimes with a problem solved or a new perspective.
Rather than practice ‘focused thinking’, I’d like to encourage you to try another type of mental activity while walking which I’ll call ‘focused awareness’. The idea gets back to the idea of ‘clearing your mind’, not to create blankness but to clear your mind of unwanted thoughts and focus on your present moment (your body, surroundings, sights, sounds, sensations). It is very common for people to be plagued with a non-stop internal dialogue of random thoughts about past issues or future business/worries to deal with. It’s so normal that you may not even be aware of it. I know this is true of me. When I’m out walking I will be surrounded by great natural beauty but my mind puts on mental blinders that buffer me from hearing, seeing and appreciating what is in my immediate present unless I make a conscious effort to focus on the present. I’ll find myself playing a rerun of a conversation with a teacher from my kid’s school, thinking about the things I have to get done later in the day, debate with myself about whether or not to do this or that, etc, etc, etc. It’s a lot of mental noise and when you’re paying attention to it, you’re not paying attention to the present and what’s happening in the moment. You’re there physically but mentally you are off in some other place. When you think about it, the mental tapes frequently play boring reruns of themes you’ve been over many times or push you to focus your thinking on future events thereby taking away from your enjoyment of the moment you are in. Typically these ‘problems’ don’t get resolved, they just follow you around like a bad odor.
I feel deeply connected to nature. It is something I am aware of feeling from my earliest memories: the power and beauty of the natural world. Consequently, at the same time when I’m walking and thinking, I also find myself pausing, breathing deeply and really focusing on something that captures my eye or fills me with wonder. It feels good. I look around, focus and appreciate. Then, another thought pops into my head and the mental noise brings me back inside of my mind and I lose that sense of the present as I float around somewhere between the past and future.
When I became aware that I was doing this (because most of the time we do not realize that we are doing this unless we stop to observe ourselves), I decided to consciously focus on being aware of the present and my surroundings rather than listen to the noise in my head. Essentially this is ‘walking meditation,’ an ancient practice with many contemporary practitioners. As the Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh explains: “When you walk, arrive with every step. That is walking meditation. There’s nothing else to it.” It sounds so simple and it is for a practiced Buddhist but if you have a typically over-active mind, trained to think and do constantly (like me), it is very, very hard. For me the missing piece to make sense of the simplicity of this concept was “awareness” - awareness of how my mind focuses on the past and future and keeps me from the present. You become aware of these thought patterns by observing yourself and how you think. When you start the internal dialogue, take a mental step backwards and observe your mind. I found Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now to be very insightful and helpful in this regard.
Getting back to the idea of ‘walking with focused awareness’, the point is to spend more time while walking focusing on the now and less time focusing on the internal, mental dialogue. Your mind will probably try to intrude on your awareness of the present periodically as you are walking. When you realize that you are thinking about picking up the dry cleaning or how irritated you are that so and so didn’t answer your email, bring yourself back to the present moment by focusing on what your senses perceive in your surroundings. You will find that when you focus on your present, you will feel more alive and more connected with what is around you. You will see your surroundings differently and perhaps make new, enriching observations because you are attuned to the present moment. You may also find that with practice the barrage of thoughts will recede as you walk and will leave you feeling more peaceful and relaxed by the time you are done.
How to do this? For example, the other day I took a walk while my kids were at music class through a village, down to the beach and along the shore. I decided to focus on as many different sensual experiences as possible. When I arrived in the village there was a funeral service taking place in the parish church. Bells continue to play an important role in Spanish villages and towns to call the faithful and to mark the hours. When there are funerals there is a special, very somber, deep two-beat bell tone that is played over and over during certain moments of the service. As I walked along the shore I heard the bells and decided to focus my attention on the sound of the tolling floating over the water and to listen to the entire length of each note as they faded away and then repeated over and over – strongly and then fading. In normal circumstances, my mind would have blotted out extraneous noise like the bells and I don’t think I would have even been aware of them. In giving my attention to the bells, I felt more connected to the ritual taking place in the village and the passing of that soul and the families involved. It also filled me with a sense of discovery: when the bell tolling went from being background noise to the center of my attention, I deepened my understanding and appreciation of them and their role in community life.
My mind wandered, many times, but I would bring it back and focus on something else – my breathing, the pattern of sound my feet were making on the different surfaces where I walked– sand, boardwalk, pavement, different randomly barking dogs from houses on the fringes of the area. As I walked back along the beach I started to focus on the sound of the tiny waves breaking on the shore and listen, like the bells, for the source, where they stopped, where they started, was the sound coming from the left or right? I lay down on the beach for a few minutes, closed my eyes and listened to the waves. I was aware of patterns I had not paid attention to before even though I’ve spent a lot of time at the shore over the years. It felt good, peaceful. The mental noise took a back seat to the vibrant and alive present rather than vice versa. I focused my awareness on the rocks, the colors of the kelp, the plastic on the beach. The latter set me off on a frustrating internal dialogue about pollution but I brought myself back to the patterns in the water, the gulls flying overhead, the color of the sky as the sun set behind the village….I breathed in deeply and felt the cool, salt air fill my lungs. Further on I wrinkled my noise at the smell of kelp rotting under the sand where I stepped deeply. All of these things helped me enjoy and feel more connected to that moment and made the walk an entirely different experience than if I had just let the tapes play as usual. The walk was about just being – not thinking, analyzing or doing – just enjoying it for what it was. I felt grateful for all the beauty both large and small surrounding me constantly. As I say, my mind would wander off frequently but that’s okay. As you become more aware of how your mind wanders, it becomes easier to sense sooner and then you can refocus to something in your immediate surroundings – the birds singing, the way the leaves rustle in the wind, how the breeze feels on your skin, the smell of the damp earth. Awareness in the present is liberating. You can’t change the past nor can you can make the future happen sooner but you can enjoy the gift of the now and this is an access point to it.
Our cookbook is finally a reality! After 16 years of running our walking tours company On Foot in Spain we decided to self-publish a cookbook focusing on Jose's salad recipes called On Foot in Spain Picnic Salads. It's a great trip down memory lane of fantastic company, beautiful places and the delicious foods that bring us together. Buen provecho!
You can order it direct through Blurb following the link below. The price listed via Blurb is "at cost" for a limited time (the rest of 2015) - we've not added in any profit margin - as our gift and thanks to you for making On Foot in Spain possible all of these years. We hope you enjoy these recipes and the memories that they bring back of good times shared in great company in beautiful places. Happy Thanksgiving wherever you may be!