Pilgrims asked not to defecate on Spanish pilgrimage route
A village on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route has asked visitors to stop defecating in its vicinity as they pass through on route to the believed burial spot of apostle Saint James.
Based in Galicia, in north-western Spain, the village of Lastres has put up signs showing a red-circled and barred squatting figure.
Resident Antonio Fernández told the EFE news agency that the signs appeared this week but no one in the village seemed to know who had put them up.
"A lot of pilgrims pass this way each year and naturally they have to see to their needs; you can't stop that," Mr Fernández said.
According to the Pilgrims Office in Santiago cathedral, 238,000 people followed the Way of St James in 2014, starting in various parts of Spain, France or elsewhere in Europe.
A spokesman for the Federation of Friends of the Camino de Santiago said that the organisation had not received any specific complaints from anyone in Lastres, but did say that farmers from other points along the route had called in to say that a field of their was being used as an open-air lavatory by a large number of pilgrims.
"Some olive groves or other fields just seem to be strategically positioned and offer the right kind of cover," the spokesman said.
"When you are out walking and you have that problem, you have to find a solution. What we can't control is how each pilgrim deals with the mess. Obviously, we hope people won't be beasts and leave it all there in full view," she explained.
"Maybe that's what some pilgrims lack: a little bit of care and conscientiousness. But there's no way we can put a toilet every two miles along the route."