Pilgrims are being lead into temptation along the Camino de Santiago, as unscrupulous bar owners switch signs and tamper with markings to divert them to their establishments.
Spanish tourism authorities say that yellow scallop signs, the symbol marking out the route, are being tampered with to deliberately lead pilgrims astray.
In some cases, yellow arrows have been sprayed on roads that take some of the hundreds of thousands of pilgrims walkers off the strait and narrow and onto long detours that may get them lost.
The worst “black spot” is in Ponferrada, in northwest Spain near the end of the route in Santiago de Compostela.
At one junction on the outskirts of the city, yellow arrow marks and fake scallop paintings have been found directing walkers away from the official route and into the path of bars.
“The problem is the bad image that this gives to the pilgrimage as well as the city of Ponferrada,” Roger de la Cruz, president of the Friends of the Camino de Santiago, said. “The signs on the Camino are sacred and they cannot modify it for commercial or personal interests.”
Efforts are being made by cities on the route to bring in a standard yellow symbol to stop walkers being tricked. At present there is a scallop symbol but in some areas arrows direct walkers.
Every year hundreds of thousands of people cross northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela, where the remains of the apostle St James are said be.
The route has grown in popularity thanks to a publicity push by the Galician regional government — the number of participants has grown from 99,000 in 1993 to 301,000 last year.
(Story courtesy The Times of London July 16th, 2018)