Last updated: 12:30 PM ET, Tue April 21 2015

'No Pooping' Signs Cropping Up Along Spain's Camino de Santiago Routes

Destination & Tourism | Patrick Clarke | April 21, 2015

'No Pooping' Signs Cropping Up Along Spain's Camino de Santiago Routes

Each year, hundreds of thousands of travelers hike Western Europe's Camino de Santiago, a series of routes leading to the shrine of St. James the Great in northwestern Spain. But unfortunately for local residents and unsuspecting hikers, some leave behind more than just their footprints.

According to multiple Spanish news outlets, signs prohibiting defecation along the trails, similar to the one below in the Spanish village of Lastres, have been popping up rapidly in an effort to deter hikers from relieving themselves.

However, the signs highlight a much bigger issue, which is the lack of public toilets along the Camino de Santiago. That problem is compounded by the fact the pilgramage can take several weeks to complete. 

Plus, more and more people are visiting the spiritual route year after year. 

According to La Voz de Galicia, roughly 240,000 people visited one of the eight Jacobean routes in 2014, an increase of 20,000 from the previous year. What's more, half of those visitors were foreigners, meaning that they are more likely to be unfamiliar with the surrounding areas and thus less likely to successfully seek out a toilet. 

"It makes no sense that ... a place with a rating of BIC does not have any public infrastructure (for) the pilgrims during such a long journey," said Samos Mayor Julio Gallego via La Voz de Galicia

It seems unlikely that the warnings will eliminate unwelcome leavings; after all, when you've got to go, you've got go. Nonetheless, by becoming their own tourist attraction, the signs will undoubtedly raise awareness for the routes' toilet shortage.

But until then, hikers or pilgrims looking to tackle the Camino de Santiago would be wise to take care of business before they reach the trail.

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