[Carnet de bord #6] First days of following the path

Week 6: From Monday 26 to Sunday 2 October: first days of walking in Spain.

Every week, in partnership with Reporters d’espoirs, Thierry and Martin share their experience with us: the encounters they make, the economic and social challenges of the rural areas they cross, the joys but also the difficulties they experience. .

End clap this Monday, September 26 for our ESS 750 project. As planned, we finished the French part of the route with a magnificent stage under a superb sun. The emotion is strong. We are therefore stopping our meetings with the actors of the social and solidarity economy, but the march continues until Santiago de Compostela, which we will reach on Saturday 29 October.

It is therefore time for a “first assessment” but also for what we call our “surprise report” after this week spent in Spain.

The social and solidarity economy and the sense of commitment

During this month of hiking in France, we therefore traveled these 750 km with favorable weather and more than generous sunshine. We have not stopped over the miles to meet diverse personalities, rich and, sometimes, very endearing. Deep bonds have been created that will not remain without a future, that’s for sure. The same goes for the many players in the social and solidarity economy who have shared with us the meaning of their commitment.

Among them, we will particularly remember Carole de Blic, for the wool center of Saugues, in Haute-Loire, Jean Baptiste Bouloc for the cooperative Young Mountain in Aubrac, and brother Paul Adrien, the hotelier of Conques, in Aveyron.

But also, Laurent and Sylvie Remes, organic market gardeners in the Lot valley, Bertrand Delpuech and Bernard Bonnet, founder of CeleWatt who works for solar and citizen energy, Alain Jean, founder of the company Rezo thumb to promote solidarity mobility in Moissac, in Tarn-et-Garonne.

And of course, our longest-standing Gers friends, Remi Roux, manager of the cooperative Ethiquable, leader in fair trade chocolate, and Thibault Renaudin, managing director, founder of the association InSitewhich works to promote rurality.

Without drawing definitive conclusions, one thing is certain: we have been able to observe some very fine social and economic successes. Here are their commonalities.

  • The love of the territory, the concern for others and relationships imbued with great authenticity.
  • The desire to preserve traditions, while remaining resolutely in line with modernity. As the saying goes: “Modernity without tradition is blind, tradition without modernity is sterile.”
  • The will to serve the environment and the nature which they consider as a treasure.

But these actors are confronted with a lack of coordination between the various local actors and a lack of means but also of skills, in particular to respond to the challenge of national development.

Now let’s move on to our “astonishment report” at the end of our week in Spain. We hear in France that the Spanish part, and especially the traditional route, the Camino Frances, would be less beautiful, too crowded and that the Spaniards would not be welcoming. It is not so.

The landscapes are also superb. Admittedly, these are different, but wouldn’t that be a matter of personal appreciation? The walkers and walkers are more numerous but the space is wide! Their international profile (we met 18 different nationalities) is remarkable. Thus, we met a large number of Americans but also Koreans and Asians. One wonders why the Americans start the path at Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. Wouldn’t there be a potential there for France to exploit?

Hosts and Spaniards are particularly welcoming and very concerned about the Camino, considered a tourist, cultural and economic asset… The signage is excellent, symbolized by the shell.

We understood that the negative opinions on the Spanish part were finally peddled by those who could not, did not want or did not dare to venture into Spain. This first week, despite three days of rain, has been a very good experience, in line with what we have been experiencing since leaving Puy-en-Velay forty days ago. We look forward to the remaining twenty-seven stages to reach Santiago and Finisterre. And as we say on the way: Ultreïa!

[Carnet de bord #6] First days of following the path