ONGOING concerns over travellers safety on the traditional Camino de Santiago route through the north of Spain have led to the Guardia Civil posting a mounted police patrol along stretches which are difficult to access by car.
The Camino is an ancient trail that has been walked for centuries by pilgrims on their way to the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. Modern pilgrims complete the hike for many different reasons these days, some spiritual and some for the stunning scenery and the opportunity to get back to nature, but most speak of the camaraderie they encounter en route, sharing simple meals and tips on blister care in dedicated hostels.
However, this year, darker stories have emerged from the Camino. In April, an American woman, Denise Thiem, disappeared while walking the route, and she has not yet been found.
Recently senator John McCain supported Thiem’s family’s campaign to highlight her case, writing to Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy asking him to consider involving the FBI in the case.
There have been numerous other reports of harassment, particularly of women walkers. In June, two women, one Dutch and one American, went to the police after a man attacked them, and tried to pull one of them into his car. The pair were able to fight him off with their walking sticks.
In the meantime, the Guardia Civil is looking for further ways to step up safety and their accessibility to walkers who wish to report incidents.