Friday, August 24, 2012

The Internet has revolutionised the way people travel and work.

I am currently in Spain walking part of the Camino and working as a volunteer in a hostel (albergue) where pilgrims (people) stay who are doing the 800 km Camino. We have between 80 and 180 people staying every night. They arrive by bike or foot, never car. At the moment they mainly come from Spain, France, Germany and Italy. We have had pilgrims from the US, Canada, Bolivia, Chile, Brazil, Cuba, Argentina, South Korea, Japan, Australia, Bosnia, Croatia, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Algeria, Finland, Norway, Sweden, the UK, South Africa, etc. They arrive carrying all the goods necessary for a 35 day walk, except food, in their rucksacks.

All of the people seem to have a mobile phone of some or other kind. All the beds in this modern hostel have 2 power plugs per bunk/bed suitable for charging the phones. Many of the people ask if we have wifi, which we do not, but every bar/restaurant in the town has free wifi. Our hostel as Internet abled computers – 1 hour costs 1 euro (+- R10).

On leaving South Africa I organised ´Roam on´on my mobile phone so I was only able to get SMSs and not use the Internet features (and save costs). On arrival in Spain I removed my South African sim card in my iPad and replaced it with a Spanish one with a one month data bundle. When I go to bars I use their free wifi, other times the data bundle. Local people can use their mobile phones to the fullest with Internet, etc. When I did my 100 km walk to the hostel I carried my iPad in my rucksack but it was so heavy! And when I continue with my walk I will have to carry it plus all the wornderful things I bought in the town where I am volunteering.

The pilgrims carry and use different kinds of electronic devices. I have seen the following being used - mp3s, Internet-enabled computers, digital cameras, ipads/tablets, ebook readers and laptops.

  • Mp3 players are often seen being used by young people as they try to get to sleep. Some walk with them.
  • The Internet-enabled computers in the hostel have been used for the usual, i.e. Facebook, email, and looking up buses, planes and other transport matters. With my Internet skills I have had to help people get bus transport to Germany.
  • Digital cameras are used by young and old. I have not seen many people using the mobile phone for photographs. I saw one guy with a video camera but they are not common as they are just too heavy to carry in a rucksack.
  • My iPad is much in use. I used it for Facebook, email, keeping a diary, reading the South African newspapers, reading books and special things for this stay. Before I came I did web searches on buses and transport from this town and saved those bus time tables in Favourites, so that now when people ask about bus times I just whip out the iPad and open the web page for them – so impressive. I used to use the Ipad for photographs for myself, but now I wander around the hostel in the evening, take photographs of pilgrims and then email them to their homes – they love this. The most used feature of the iPad is the app Translate. The other volunteers currently here only speak German and a little Spanish. I speak two languages and understand two others, but they are not really useful here with these pilgrims. The iPad translate features are not perfect, but are so useful. I have seen some of the pilgrims watching movies on their iPads and listenng to music. A French lady had problems with her tablet with regard to charging.
  • I have had great fun getting the following translated with Google Translate, having it checked into all the languages of the pilgrims, and made into a poster. I/we discovered that Google Translate is not perfect. 
"In the countryside on The Way do not leave anything that smells, fertilizes or pollutes. Use bars, restaurants and albergues for your needs. Please keep The Way clean."
  • Kindles can be seen at night, with different font sizes and their special lights.





  • One Brazilian guy arrived by bike which he had brought all the way from Brazil. He then unpacked (his office) and started working on his laptop in the lounge. One day we had two guys with their laptops which they had carried on their backpacks, seen in the kitchen.
  • Cell phones with alarm features are used by the volunteers to wake up in the morning to open the doors .

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great to hear that you are having a great time and being Pam and helping everybody. Can you imagine life without an Ipad or mobile even though it is heavy? Enjoy and keep us updated. A Google map showing where you are?

Stanley Le Fleur said...

Awesome, really awesome! Keep up the good work! Stan in Pretoria