August 11, 2022

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The planet is warming: Deaths and heat on the way to Compostela

LEDIGOS, Spain | The extreme heat wave that suffocates Spain also suffocates and sometimes kills pilgrims crossing the route to Compostela.

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“This is the sixth time I’ve done it, but I think it will be the last, because this year it was really painful,” says Marie-Ave Lesart, a 43-year-old Quebec pilgrim met in Ledigos. In Spain.

“The heat is really unpleasant, some access is blocked because of the fire. »

Now it is difficult to walk during the day. Many accidents happen on the way, supports Mme younger

Since the start of summer, at least two people have died on the way to Santiago de Compostela due to the heat.

On July 7, a Dutch newspaper reported that the 47-year-old Dutch professor died.

In June, during the first wave of extreme heat, the heat also killed a 69-year-old German pilgrim, Iberian media wrote. El Pierso.

“A lot of people decide to give up. There are especially difficult days,” says the person who travels twenty kilometers a day on average.

Embrace

To protect himself from heatstroke and successfully complete a total walk of over 800 km, Mme Lessard had no choice but to adapt.

“We have to leave early in the morning as it is 16 degrees Celsius. So at 5:30 a.m., we’re with headlamps, and at 10:00 a.m., 10:30 a.m. we start to feel the heat, and after this hour, it gets tough and can’t wait to stop,” says Montreal. translator.

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At the Amis du Chemin Saint-Jacques association, located in the village of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France, volunteers try to better prepare the 150 travelers who start their daily journey from the city at this time.

“When people go out here, they should take a lot of water, stock up well, wear a hat, and leave early in the morning to have cooler temperatures,” explains association member Henry Prisciano.

Lots of walkers

Every year, nearly 200,000 people from all over the world undertake this historic Catholic pilgrimage, the aim of which is to reach the tomb of Saint James the Greater, located in Galicia, in the city of Santiago de Compostela.

One thing is for sure, Marie-Ave Lessard has clearly seen climate change since she made her first pilgrimage.

“Between 2007 and today, you can really see the difference! The heat is not really that intense,” he observes.

Beer, apple and foot cream

LEDIGOS, SPAIN | It was still 33°C when the evening started Register A one-hour departure on a short stretch of the popular pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela in Letigos, in the Valencia region of Spain.

The sun was still beating down. For an hour there was no shade except for a few trees along the road.

The ground also seemed to burn the feet.

“The hard part is sometimes when the water runs out, you can’t find anything along the way. This happened to me, I had to go 17 kilometers without water,” explains Marie-Anne Jean, a 48-year-old French woman who met yesterday afternoon when she arrived in Letikos.

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rest

After several hours of walking, devotees turn around directly Albergues (hotels) to relax, especially after drinking a beer and eating, before taking a shower and going to bed.

A mural honoring the pilgrims in Ledigos, Spain, welcomes them

Photo by Clara Loiseau

A mural honoring the pilgrims in Ledigos, Spain, painted in one of the “albergues” (hostels) that welcomed them.

“With heat and fatigue, there’s nothing better than a siesta to recover strength, because it’s often hot at night and you don’t necessarily sleep well in the shelters,” laughs 43-year-old Marie-Ave Lessard. Quebecer is 800 km.

Marie-Eve Lessard

Photo by Clara Loiseau

Marie-Eve Lessard

“But sometimes you want to sleep peacefully, without anyone snoring next to you,” laughs M.me Gin

It is in these places that hikers meet or find fellow travelers.

“There are actually a lot of Italians, Germans, Canadians and Koreans,” Ms.me Jean is a nurse in the south of France.

And in hostels, pilgrims are often entitled to some small gift from the owners: tapas, a beer, an apple or even… foot cream.

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