Australian pilgrim loved the Camino, but finds it "not homophobic enough"

We all love meeting pligrims and hearing about their experience on the Way so when we ran into Joe from Australia who had just arrived in Santiago we were keen to hear his story.

We caught up with Joe as he enjoyed a beer or two in the warm sunshine outside a bar on Rua do Franco.

Joe started in Saint-Jean.

"I'm from Queensland so naturally I wasn't too worried about the heat."

And indeed, in his khaki shorts and Crocadile Dundee hat Joe had clearly come prepared.

"I've wanted to walk the Camino for donkeys years, I'm a Catholic so I wanted to do a Catholic pilgrimage to, ya know, where one of the apostles is buried, even if it isn't a very important apostle, but all the other ones are in, ya know, enemy territory."

Perhaps sensing our confusion Joe explains in more detail.

"Ya know, the Jews and the Arabs..."

Notwithstanding the problems in the world Joe had a great time on his Camino.

"Yeah? I really enjoyed the walking, I really enjoyed the masses although they could do it in English like every place else, I enjoyed the wine too although Ozzie wine is miles better, and the tucker wasn't bad either but I'd kill for a proper barbie at this stage!"

Proper food

Joe licks his lips at the thought of "proper food" and clearly warming to his subject he continues.

"Yeah? I had a great time. The only thing I didn't really like was all the bummers."

Perhaps sensing our confusion again Joe explains in more detail.

"Bummers, ya know, gayboys, woofters, arse bandits. They were everywhere! Every bar I went into there'd be a couple of them hanging around looking for sex. They'd give me that look, that 'come here big boy' look. I was frankly surprised to see so much of it in rural Spain. I thought this was a Catholic country. Some of the barmen were bummers too, they were all winking and making lurid comments in their barbarian language, I know they speak English, everybody has to, it was disgusting."

This topic was clearly upsetting Joe so we tried to steer him back to the positive things he experienced.

"Yeah? The churches were great but they were full of bummers too! Every one I went into there'd be some fella in a dress trying to touch me up, get me to go into the confessional with him. It was disgusting!"

The waiter delivers another 'cerveza grande' to Joe who give him an extremely dirty look before leaning forward conspiritorially and whispering to us, "There's another one! Did you see the way he looked at me? Total come on!"

This reported protested that the waiter had seemed more surly and indifferent than, ya know, 'randy'. Joe insists however.

h3 'He left his phone number'

"He was totally blantant about it. Look he left his phone number!"

Joe indicates the receipt indicating the business' VAT number. We point this out to Joe but he doesn't seem convinced. Putting the receipt in his pocket he says.

"I'll call it later and make sure."

Asked to tell us more about the beautiful churches he saw Joe continues.

"I'm a Catholic on a Catholic pilgrimage. We all know that the Roman Catholic Church considers homosexuality to be a deadly sin punishable by an eternity in the deepest pit of hell, and proper order too! So why isn't this proud Catholic tradition reflected on the Camino? The bummers were everywhere I'm telling you! Even in the albergues! I mean, you put forty or more men in a cramped dorm with little or no supervision, it's practically bummer heaven!"

As we sat there it became apparent that Joe was something of a Camino legend and that not all pilgrims took his theories about the prevalence of homosexual behaviour on the Camino 100% seriously.

A group of passing French pilgrims greeted him warmly and loudly and interrogated him amid much derisory French laughter with questions such as, "Ozzie Joe, today you see the 'omos?" "Ozzie Joe, the 'omos they are following you?"

Ozzie Joe seemed not to wish to engage with them and they soon got bored and left saying something about the quality of the snails in a nearby bar.

Almost immediately a passing German pilgrim also recognised Ozzie Joe. She was a robust woman of some advanced years but notwithstanding she took the time to slap Ozzie Joe violently on the back and, despite apparently not speaking a word of English, proceeded to entertain all and sundry for several minutes with groaning and moaning while doing a grotesque imitation of the sexual act by thrusting her hips in Ozzie Joe's direction all the time making lurid gestures with her hands. She then continued with a performance clearly inspired by the great Burlesque traditions of inter-war Berlin, demonstrating in the processes a surprising repitoire of erotic symbolism and a natural talent for the obscene.

By the time she finished some ten minutes later she had an audience of a couple of hundred people who applauded riotously while she bowed deeply and took her leave saying something about not wanting to miss mass.

By now this reporter's jaw was hanging off with astonishment and Ozzie Joe's face was purple.

Clearly annoyed he quickly finished his drink and stood up to leave. But before he went he leaned in close and in an urgent breathless whisper told us, "You've got to warn people!"

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